Wednesday, January 06, 2016

06-Jan-16: Perceptions and realities at the BBC

Inside the BBC newsroom in Broadcasting House, London
[Image Source: BBC]
The BBC ("the largest broadcaster in the world"; "the World's Radio Station"; home to a close-to-incredible 22,000 employeeshas much for which to answer in relation to how it systematically fails to call terror "terror". 

It's a painful subject not only because of the damage the BBC's resort to aggressive euphemisms does to people's understanding of terror, but also because of the blatant hypocrisy inherent in the way it adheres to the policy sometimes and ignores it other times. To deeply concerned observers like us, it's plain that the BBC's rule book [BBC Editorial Guideline: Language when Reporting Terrorismprovides a fig-leaf for journalistic values that do no credit to BBC management.

The estimable BBC Watch today posted the kind of well-written and penetrating article that makes its work so valuable. We're referring to "More evidence of BBC News double standards on use of the word terror". There, the writers remind us of what the BBC itself and the laws under which it operates say it's supposed to do, and then expands on
the BBC's inconsistent application of those editorial guidelines and the resulting two-tier system of reporting is evidence of precisely the type of “value judgement” it supposedly seeks to avoid and indicates that the choice of language when reporting acts of terror is subject to political considerations which undermine the BBC’s claim of impartiality. If further evidence of those double standards were needed, it could be found in an article published on the BBC News website on January 3rd under the title “Israelis charged over fatal West Bankfamily arson attack”.
Those are obviously serious allegations. The chronic, systemic issues to which they relate are among the most weighty and consequential that an organization with the mission
to ensure that the BBC gives information about, and increases understanding of, the world through accurate and impartial news, other information, and analysis of current events and ideas.
ever faces.

In its reporting of arrests made this past week following the deaths of three members of a single family in a house fire in Duma, a Palestinian Arab village, the BBC's news reporters and editors used
the words “Jewish terrorists” not in quotation marks and not as quoted text. This was the BBC speaking in its own voice.

Calling the Jewish Israelis who were taken into custody over the Duma deaths “suspected terrorists” is unexceptionable. Israel's government has referred to the lethal fire at the Duma home as terror from the outset. See, as an illustration, "PM condemns ‘horrific, heinous terror attack’ on Palestinians" in Times of Israel on July 31, 2015.

BBC newsroom [Image Source: BBC]
BBC Watch reminds us that other terror attacks, some of them among the most horrifying this country has ever known, stunningly failed to reach the BBC's call-it-terror threshold:
BBC Watch says, and we certainly agree, that in deciding not to call these acts of murder "terror", while using "terrorist" to describe the unconvicted Israeli Jews arrested in the Duma case, the BBC ought to be required to tell its funding public why. 

Its management should also be called on to justify their engaging (as we say they are) in highly-politicized decision-making whose contours are influenced more by unspoken policy considerations than by the obligations imposed on the BBC by the laws under which it operates.

Here's some further reading from past posts of ours dealing with the BBC and its terror strategy:

Finally, on a more generous note, let's a take a moment to offer congratulations to BBC management for having just won a well-deserved major award from Honest Reporting. The prize and the attainments that earned it for them are detailed here.

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