In May, HonestReporting critiqued and sent a complaint to The Guardian concerning three articles that included the following references to the Western Wall:
The Guardian’s response was to dismiss the complaint. As HR’s Managing Editor Simon Plosker wrote in The Times of Israel:
The Guardian’s readers’ editor replied: “These are shorthand ways of describing the Western Wall, and in these three cases I believe them to be accurate and adequate in their contexts.”
The readers’ editor concluded:
“There may be occasions when the context would require that a fuller explanation be given of the fact that the Western Wall is a part remaining of the Second Temple which stood on the Temple Mount, and that because Jews are not allowed to pray on the Temple Mount they traditionally pray instead at the Western Wall, considered to be the closest point to the peak of Mount Moriah.
But in my view the three references you have raised, in their particular contexts, do not require that amount of detail.”
Despite further correspondence from HonestReporting, including a direct email to The Guardian’s Jerusalem correspondent Peter Beaumont, asking that he, in future, stop incorrectly referring to the Western Wall as Judaism’s holiest site, neither Beaumont nor the readers’ editor wished to engage further.
It is only too common for journalists to avoid acknowledging mistakes, particularly if it means giving a media watchdog some credit. But this is not the only kind of meaningful success. In this case it appears that HR’s complaints have not gone unnoticed.
On June 26, The Guardian’s religion correspondent, Harriet Sherwood, covering recent events surrounding the Western Wall, correctly referred to it as “the holiest place that Jews can pray” and “the last remnant of the retaining wall of the Temple Mount.”
Perhaps more significantly, Peter Beaumont, in a story on July 4, wrote that the site of the Temple Mount is “considered the holiest in Judaism,” marking a complete turnaround from his previously incorrect assertions that the Western Wall is the holiest site.
Has The Guardian begrudgingly and without acknowledgement, finally decided to report in a factually correct way when it comes to the Western Wall and Temple Mount?
If this is indeed the case, then it represents an important achievement by HonestReporting even if The Guardian is loathe to publicly own up to its own failings.