The Los Angeles Times has banned more than three dozen reporters and editors from covering the war in Gaza after they signed an open letter condemning Israel’s response to the Oct. 7 massacre, according to a report.
The letter sent on Nov. 9 blasted Israel for killing journalists and called on newsrooms to refer to Israel’s military response as a “genocide,” Semafor reported on Thursday.
“Staffers who signed the letter have been told by the paper’s management that they will not be allowed to cover the conflict in any way for at least three months,” the outlet reported, citing anonymous sources.
The letter also called on newsrooms to use language including “apartheid,” “ethnic cleansing,” and “genocide” when referring to the Israeli incursion into Gaza — terms that critics say are biased and do not accurately depict the conflict.
Semafor said that roughly a dozen current LA Times staffers signed the letter, but Mediaite reported that LA Times reporter Suhauna Hussain claimed the number was actually closer to “more than three dozen.”
“Yes it’s true we’ve been taken off coverage, which in effect removes a great many Muslim journalists and most if not all Palestinians at the LA Times from coverage,” she wrote on X, adding that it was “not true or at least not clear signing letter is a violation of LA Times ethics policy.”
LA Times, owned by bio-tech billionaire Patrick Soon-Shiong, did not respond to a request for comment.
The pubication’s top editor, Kevin Merida, had sent a memo to staff last week reminding them of the company’s ethics and fairness policy, Semafor reported.
“A fair-minded reader of the Times news coverage should not be able to discern the private opinions of those who contributed to that coverage, or to infer that the organization is promoting any agenda,” the memo reportedly said.
Hussain said the open letter — which was signed by over 750 current and former journalists — was “straightforward” with its call for an end to the “killing of journalists” and “for fair, accurate, non-racist coverage of Palestinians.”
“If anything, it reinforces policy by calling for unbiased coverage — no language prohibits signing letters & policy has not previously been used to discipline in this way to my knowledge,” she tweeted.
At least 35 journalists have reportedly been killed during Israel’s bombing campaign in Gaza and war with Hamas.
The letter provided an estimate of the number of journalists and their families who had been killed in the conflict, saying Israel’s military actions “show wide scale suppression of speech.”
Additionally, it slammed mainstream news organizations over their coverage of the war, noting that newsroom leaders often “undermined Palestinian, Arab and Muslim perspectives, dismissing them as unreliable and have invoked inflammatory language that reinforces Islamophobic and racist tropes.”
This week, the International Federation of Journalists also condemned “the killings and continued attacks on journalists,” and called for “an immediate investigation into their deaths.”
On Thursday, the Committee to Protect Journalists said the conflict had been “the deadliest month for journalists” since it “began gathering data in 1992.”