Friday, 1 May 2009

# War 029 - BBC reporter bias.

BBC Middle East editor criticised

Jeremy Bowen's article looked at the legacy of the 1967 Arab-Israeli War
The body which oversees the BBC on behalf of its audiences has criticised an article by the BBC's Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen.
The BBC Trust said a piece in 2007 for the News website on the 1967 war broke the corporation's rules on accuracy.
It also partially upheld a complaint that the article breached guidelines on impartiality.
In reply, BBC News said Jeremy Bowen had been exercising his professional judgement on history.
The Trust also took issue with a suggestion by Jeremy Bowen in a piece on Radio 4's From Our Own Correspondent that the Har Homa settlement was considered illegal by the United States.
The committee found that he should have sourced his comment, or stated that it was what officials felt privately but couldn't say.
At the same time, the Trust accepted that he had been informed of the American position by an authoritative source, whom he wished to protect.
Other Interpretations
The website article, headlined How 1967 defined the Middle East, was part of the coverage of the 40th anniversary of the Middle East war.
The Trust said the language used by Jeremy Bowen in the article had in three instances not been sufficiently clear and precise to meet the corporation's standards on accuracy.
It also partially upheld a complaint that the article breached guidelines on impartiality for failing to reflect that there were other interpretations of the causes and effects of the war.
The Trust's editorial standards committee upheld a complaint that the phrase "the Israeli generals... had been training to finish the unfinished business of Israel's independence war of 1948 for most of their careers" was inaccurate.
The committee said the phrase had not been specific enough and should have made reference to the capture of East Jerusalem.
The Trust also said a reference to Zionism's "innate instinct to push out the frontier" should have been qualified to make it precise and clear.
The article's suggestion that the settlement of land occupied by Israel in 1967 was in defiance of 'everyone's interpretation of international law except its own' was also criticised as for not being clear enough.
The committee noted that Jeremy Bowen had said that, in the context of the piece, "everyone" referred to states and international organisations, not to individual academics.
In its defence of the web article, BBC News said the Trust's conclusion was "a single, partially upheld finding related to one piece of output about events that took place over 40 years ago.
"Jeremy Bowen was simply exercising his professional judgement on history. Clearly there is no consensus view of history and it is self evident that there are others who have a different analysis."
The BBC also stated that an independent inquiry in 2006 had found little to suggest deliberate or systematic bias in BBC reporting of Israel and the Palestinians and that there was evidence of a commitment to be fair, accurate and impartial.
Full details are posted here.

No comments:

Post a Comment