Former foreign editor John Felton conducts quarterly, independent, reviews of NPR's Israeli-Palestinian coverage. His second-quarter 2013 report is now available online.
Felton reviewed the 51 radio stories, interviews and other reports that aired on NPR's daily radio shows from April through June, as well as 25 blogs, news stories and other reports carried exclusively on NPR's website.
Twenty-six of the stories and interviews focused on various regional aspects of the civil war in Syria — for example the role of Lebanon and its Hezbollah militia, and Israel's concerns about the upheaval near its border.
NPR also gave limited coverage, on-air and online, to Secretary of State John Kerry's five trips to the region, during which he tried to restart peace talks between the Israelis and the Palestinians.
In his assessment, Felton found that NPR gave its listeners and readers accurate and generally fair coverage of these and other events.
The review analyzed in some detail a controversial May 30 story on Morning Edition, by Emily Harris, NPR's new Jerusalem correspondent, that profiled a Palestinian youth briefly jailed for throwing stones at Israeli soldiers. The story also described the case of a three-year-old Israeli girl who had been severely injured when her mother crashed the family car after it was hit by rocks thrown by other Palestinian protesters. Some pro-Israel groups and listeners said Harris's piece was biased in favor of the Palestinians and romanticized the stone-throwers. Felton rejected that charge but said the piece would have been clearer had it been structured differently.
John Felton prepares the quarterly evaluations. He has covered international affairs and U.S. foreign policy for 35 years. His book, The Contemporary Middle East: A Documentary History, was published by CQ Press in 2007. A former foreign affairs reporter for Congressional Quarterly and foreign editor at NPR, he has been a freelance writer and editor since 1995.