Beeb bias?

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An analysis of coverage between July and December 2007 by HonestReporting, released on Monday, criticised the corporation’s use of images, headlines and balance.

Discuss the report here

It follows similar conclusions of a report taken between January and June 2007.
The report, which analysed 129 articles, claimed the BBC ignored stories on rocket attacks, publishing only two articles at the end of last year, making six in total during 2007. The IDF has recorded around 1,500 separate rocket attacks in 2007.

During the same period, 56 articles concerning Israeli military operations against Gaza were published, according to the study.

The document claims the BBC’s headline selection favoured the Palestinians, “Stories about Palestinian attacks never directly named the aggressors. Instead, headlines such as ‘Rocket injures dozens in Israel’ were used. On the other hand, in 63% of articles addressing Israeli military operations, the headline was much more clear and direct, regardless of whether the action was a responsive or defensive measure such as ‘Israel strikes kill six in Gaza’”.

Images were found to be more sympathetic to the Palestinian side, “In 23 photos, 17 either portrayed the Palestinians as victims or the IDF as the aggressors. Only 6 images could be described in any way as slightly sympathetic to the Israeli perspective,” the report said.

HonestReporting’s Managing Editor Simon Plosker said: “These findings quantify what most of us knew already – the BBC’s reporting on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is highly skewed against Israel and flies in the face of the BBC’s dubious claims to be balanced.

“It is high time that the BBC stops ignoring the credible evidence presented by concerned groups and individuals on this issue and starts to acknowledge a genuine and serious problem with its Middle East reporting.”

Commenting on the report, Board of Deputies Chief Executive, Jon Benjamin, said: “This report will certainly resonate with many in our community. As a public service broadcaster, watched around the world, the BBC should work to a higher standard of impartiality than print or other media, where a more partisan approach might be expected. Too often they fall short of this expectation and the effect on perceptions of Israel and even of our community is compounded because of the reputation of the BBC.

But the BBC rejected the findings. A spokesperson said: “Honestreporting has a particular view of the conflict and cannot be seen as an independent arbiter of our output.

“BBC News is committed to impartial reporting of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and an independent panel of inquiry into the impartiality of the BBC’s coverage of the Middle East in 2006 found that there was ‘no deliberate or systematic bias is our coverage of the conflict.’”

Meanwhile, BICOM will take its largest ever delegations of journalists from the BBC, Sky, The Times, The Sun and The Independent, to Israel next week to show them events from Israel’s perspective.

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