Friday, June 26, 2009

BBC anti-Israel bias is a myth

The broadcaster favours Israeli over Palestinian sources in its news reports – as does al-Jazeera, a new study shows

Sharif Nashashibi, Friday 26 June 2009

".....A study (pdf) I wrote, published by Arab Media Watch on 10 June 2009, confirms that the BBC's coverage favours Israel. This comes as no surprise, as its findings echo those of numerous previous studies by AMW, universities and others, including the major, independent impartiality review commissioned by the BBC a few years ago.

What is surprising, given the review's findings, is the continued extent of this one-sidedness, a sign that little has been learned from past mistakes......

But arguably the most startling aspect of the study is the performance of al-Jazeera's English website. Having concluded my findings for the BBC, I decided to monitor al-Jazeera in the same way as a comparative exercise. I had expected the world-renowned Arab station to be an example for the BBC, but in fact, it fared little better.

While every al-Jazeera article had Israeli sources, 11% had no Palestinian sources. Of the 89% that did, 69% devoted more words to Israeli sources. "A further breakdown raises more concern," the study says. "The articles in question are either attributed to 'agencies', or 'al-Jazeera and agencies'. Of the articles attributed solely to agencies, 57% devoted more words to Israeli sources. However, the figure jumped to 78% for articles attributed to 'al-Jazeera and agencies'.".....

The bad news continues. The BBC and al-Jazeera both unequivocally portrayed Israeli violence as a direct response to Palestinian violence, in the use of words such as "responded", "responds", "fired back", "in response", "in retaliation" and "deterrent against". On no occasion did either portray Palestinian violence as a direct response to Israeli violence.......

I talked to several Arab journalists and media analysts about these results. None were surprised at the BBC's performance. In fact, some were not even surprised at how poorly al-Jazeera fared. Others believed that this is a result of its English-language section overshooting in its attempts to differentiate itself from its Arabic-language counterpart. Whatever the reason, this study should be a wake-up call for both news organisations."

No comments: