What journalism students should know when reporting on Israel

A view of the old city from our neighborhood in Baka, West Jerusalem. Taken June 13, 2016. (Madeline Ackley/Cronkite Mideast).

This summer I had the opportunity to visit a place that had long been the object of fascination for me: Israel and Palestine. I’m a second year journalism student at the Walter Cronkite school in Phoenix. In my first semester at the school I heard an announcement that the Cronkite School was for the first time taking a study abroad trip to the Middle East.

Without regard for cost or the potential risks I signed up immediately. This was my dream, and for a significant fee (plus airfare and a variety of personal items) and after attempting unsuccessfully to convince my family of the unlikelihood of me being killed in a terrorist attack, I was finally able to go.

The first-ever Cronkite Mideast study abroad group in front of Al-Aqsa Mosque in the Old City of Jerusalem. Take June 14, 2016. (Dr. Bill Silcock/ Cronkite Mideast).

I was educated about Israel and it’s longstanding conflict, the contention with it’s neighbors,its basic geography and religious significance. But none of that prepared me for seeing it with my own eyes.

As a first-year American journalism student in a land so newsworthy and volatile it has one of the largest populations of journalists in the world, I felt out of my league.

Part listical, part personal account, here is what I wish I knew before reporting on the nuanced and bewildering land of Israel.

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