Context. Relevance. These are two very important words I always keep in mind when I watch television news: and I’m disappointed more often than I would like when see so many stories that are reported solely because the pictures are easy to come by (accidents, fires, press conferences) or the story can incite a sought after reaction, even if it really has little or no relevance to our lives.
BBC World is the largest world-wide news service, offering radio, internet and television news coverage around the world in several different languages. It has millions upon millions of followers … so packs a major punch in shaping public opinion on issues. And in most of its coverage, it does a highly credible job of reporting … both from the points of view of context and relevance.
Until it turns to coverage of the Middle East.
I don’t know if the BBC is controlled editorially by a cabal of far-left ideologues or militant pro-Arab activists, but readers of this blog know I have pointed out several examples of what I see as a terrible anti-Israel bias in what BBC World reports and especially in how they cannot seem to report any story involving Israel, except in a negative way. And as a journalist with 38 years experience and having won many national and regional awards, I think I can tell bias when I see it ..and I see it often on BBC World in reporting Mid East issues.
Their one-sided biased coverage hurts the BBC’s once proud reputation of fairness and insults the intelligence of viewers … and this week they hit a new low that I believe provides a perfect example of a totally irrelevant story that could only elicit a negative reaction and denigrate Israel (once again) amongst it’s worldwide audience.
The “story” surrounded an Orthodox chief rabbi in the small Israeli town of Tzvat (ever even heard of it?) who had issued a decree ordering a Jewish landlord NOT to rent a suite to Arabs … a story that would no doubt cause discussion among Israelis ….Jews, Muslims and Christians. But this was one rabbi, in a small town, in a society that is largely secular. Worthy of worldwide news coverage?
Apparently so, to BBC World News. And they would no doubt argue that it made a good “human interest” piece.
However, anyone who is interested in rooting out slanted journalism should take a hard look at BBC World’s decision to run …not just a voice-over note about this one radical rabbi …but do a full news piece on a newscast that tries to cover the entre world in under 25 minutes.
And here’s where I see the bias: I’d bet that, for every radical Israeli rabbi that told the landlord not to rent to Arabs… there are dozens …maybe even hundreds … of radical mullahs and imams in the Arab states and Palestinian lands surrounding Israel who openly preach much worse: that Israel must be obliterated, that Jews and Christians are infidel pigs and snakes worthy of destruction and death. Not to mention all those textbooks given to children in Arab countries, spewing rabid racial anti-Israeli and anti-Jewish hate on almost page.
Seems to me that’s worse thn some racist rabbi (I’m not defending him in any way) urging a landlord not to rent to someone.
Where are …or have been …the BBC World stories exposing these much more horrible Islamic Arab transgressions? Have I missed them? I’d bet BBC World could come with a new nutty imam every day: why just the loony rabbi?
Because, I suspect, the BBC World editorial philosophy is to report ONLY stories like that, which embarrass and denigrate Israel …but NEVER the Arab world. This is their bias .. clearly shown.
In fact, there was an even more serious case of what I view as BBC World selective reporting just recently: the terrific story broken by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation about a secret UN investigation report attributing the assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Hariri to Hesbollah.
That story…huge news considering the report came freom the UN itself…. made major news right around the world: but though I looked, I could not find it highlighted on BBC World News. Did I miss it? The story did make it ot the BBC website…but even though I looked in many times over several days, I never saw it covered on BBC World television.
In fact, as the CBC ably reported, there were MANY angles here worth noting: not just that evidence indicates Hesbollah killed Hariri; but that the UN..five years after the murder… has still not released or acted upon its own report. All it has done is demand CBC return its leaked documents.
I can just imagine how BBC World would have headlined to story for days had the UN investigation concluded Israel was behind the assassination of Hariri!!!! We would be hearing stories on that for weeks on BBC World. Clearly a double standard …almost complicity …by BBC World …. in how it has almost ignored the Hesbollah/Hariri murder link.
We all saw how the BBC World, for days and days, was all over the UN critical report into Israel’s attacks on Gaza after being shelled for more than a year; we all saw how BBC World, for weeks, was all over the UN critical report into Israel’s barring of aid ships bound for Gaza. No problem with that ..IF BBC World treated the UN report into Hariri’s murder by Hesbollah the same way …but clearly THEY DID NOT! Why? Why? Why?
I believe it’s BBC World anti-Israel bias…pure and simple …over and over again, and we all have a duty to expose and stand up against such inequal treatment of a country and a people by a major world news network.
The same bias,by the way as I have blogged about before, that still has no Israeli cities regularly listed on BBC World’s Mid-East weather maps or drop down menus of Mid East cities … only Arab ones. Why?
The same bias that I believe explains why I have only seen ONE story from Israel on BBC World’s Mid East Business Report … and that was only a story about an Arab businessman working in Israel. Apparently, from BBC World’s point of view, there are almost no Israeli businesses or ventures or economic accomplishments worth noting … just Arab ones.
It is absolutely disgraceful discrimination in my view and I will continue to expose it whenever I can.
And by the way, this blog is about BBC World’s journalistic ethics ..or lack thereof. As always, I welcome comments on the topic. But it is not about the Israeli/Palestinian conflict itself … pro or con either side…so I won’t publish diatribes on that issue…just the journalistic questions raised here.
Happy Chanuka to all my Jewish readers ..and the Israeli people.