- Pro-Palestine media workers protested Western news outlets’ coverage of the conflict in Gaza.
- The protestors gathered at a press freedom gala in Manhattan Thursday night.
- They rallied around a letter that calls for the media to no longer “enable” Israel’s military.
Dozens of Pro-Palestinian media workers gathered outside a press freedom gala in Midtown Manhattan Thursday evening, protesting what they described as a failure by Western news outlets — and the New York Times in particular — to advocate for the safety of Palestinian journalists amid the war in Gaza.
Dressed in formal attire, the protesters arrived en masse outside the venue just after 9:45 p.m. ET, chanting and handing out a mock newspaper printed in the style of the Times and titled “The New York War Crimes.”
The goal of the night was to to shame the organization behind the gala, the Committee to Protect Journalists, for selecting Meredith Kopit Levien, the CEO and president of the paper’s parent company, as chair of its annual Press Freedom Awards.
Speaking with Business Insider ahead of the protest, journalist and organizer Harron Walker said the group singled out the Times in part because of its respected status as the “paper of record,” but organizers were also incensed by a November 3 op-ed by the paper’s editorial board that argued against a ceasefire in Gaza, citing Israeli concerns that such a move would only allow Hamas to re-arm and reinforce its positions.
“We don’t want them to go about with business as usual and even celebrating themselves as protectors of journalists,” Walker said.
Representatives of the Committee to Protect Journalists and the Times did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The group at the center of Thursday’s protest, Writers Against the War on Gaza, or WAWOG, coalesced around an open letter issued on October 26. The letter — which labels Israel an apartheid state and accuses it of committing genocide in Gaza and the West Bank — the coalition declares solidarity with Palestinians and demands that media outlets no longer “enable” Israel’s military.
The group led chants including, “From the river to the sea, no IDF, no NYT,” and “NYT, blood on your hands!”
As they left the venue, most attendees ignored the protesters or quietly accepted a copy of the mock newspaper. Some, however, spoke their minds.
“I wish you knew what you were talking about,” muttered Michael Golden, a businessman who served until 2016 as vice-chairman of the New York Times Company.
When a Business Insider reporter caught up with Golden, he said the protester’s accusations don’t square with the newspaper he knows.
“I know how the New York Times works, and they don’t,” he said, as a woman accompanying him urged him to stop talking.
As the demonstration wrapped up just before 11 p.m. ET, protesters spread posters of slain journalists on the ground and began to gradually disperse.
In the weeks since the letter was first published, the number of journalists killed in the war has risen from 24 to 42, according to a CPJ analysis, a figure that includes 37 Palestinians, four Israelis, and one Lebanese cameraman.
In the wake of a surprise attack on southern Israel on October 7 in which Hamas gunmen killed approximately 1,200 Israelis, including around 800 civilians gunned down at bus stops, in their homes, and at a rave, Israel’s campaign against the militant group has spawned a brutal humanitarian crisis and killed more than 11,000 people, per Gaza health authorities, a majority of them women and children.
The Gaza Ministry of Health, which is led by Hamas, stopped updating the death toll on Friday, citing crumbling communications infrastructure.
Thursday night was the group’s second protest against the Times in the past week. On November 9, a large group of protesters led by signatories of the open letter converged on the lobby of the newspaper’s flagship office in Manhattan, where they handed out mockups in the precise style of the Grey Lady titled “New York Crimes,” and began to read out the names of Palestinians killed in Israel’s invasion of Gaza.
According to an organizer present at the protest, the reading of names from youngest to oldest lasted around an hour; by the time the protesters decamped, they had only named infants and one year olds.