Comparing Notes

The BBC is one of the most respected news organs in the world is it not? But why?
I’ve compared two reports about the recent activity in Israel. (Reuters and the BBC.)

I’ve divided them both roughly into three categories. Facts, Background and Analysis.

Reuters is the longer report. Perhaps the BBC is pushed for space, time or some other constraint, such as ‘dumbing down’ so let’s make allowances for that.
The BBC devotes about one hundred words to the ‘Facts’, but some are more emotive than essential, such as:
The BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza City says warplanes could be heard over the Gaza Strip for more than an hour.
Never mind. Straight to the casualty toll. The BBC has:
“At least 17 people have been injured… Palestinian medics say” whereas Reuters has
…wounding at least 19 people….witnesses and militant groups said”
So who is telling us about the casualties? The BBC wants us to know that medics have told them, whereas Reuters call the informants “witnesses and militant groups.”
Mustn’t read too much into that though, I mean medics and militants are not mutually exclusive. Medics are back again in the BBC’s report, to say that seven children were wounded.
Reuters says: “including four militants, seven children and two women.” The BBC is not quite so interested in wounded adults for some reason.

The Background category is completely different. The BBC has 22 words of background (excluding 11 gratuitous words of the off topic Cast Lead body count) The BBC’s ‘background’ extends as far back as Saturday: “On Saturday, Palestinian militants fired dozens of mortars into southern Israel in what was reportedly their heaviest such barrage in two years.” We’ve heard that ‘dozens’ phrase somewhere before.
Reuters has much more, for example:
About 130 such attacks had been made on Israel this year, 56 of them since Saturday, a military spokesman said.”
That sort of background is deemed too intellectually challenging for the BBC’s audience, probably.

As for Analysis, the BBC’s 30 word contribution is a platitudinous irrelevance, whereas Reuters 73 word effort would at least inspire the curious to find out more.
Anyone feeling manipulated, or is it only me?
I’m putting my ‘categorisations’ into the comments field. See if you agree.

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14 Responses to Comparing Notes

  1. sue says:

    This is how I categorised the reports.
    At least 17 people have been injured by a series of Israeli air strikes in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian medics say.

    There were reports of up to nine explosions in Gaza City, and in the north and south of the territory.

    Witnesses say militant training camps operated by Hamas were targeted, as well as a workshop and cement factory.

    Among those wounded in Monday’s air strikes were seven children, Palestinian medical officials said.

    The BBC’s Jon Donnison in Gaza City says warplanes could be heard over the Gaza Strip for more than an hour.

    Many buildings belonging to Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza, had been evacuated in anticipation of strikes, he says.

    On Saturday, Palestinian militants fired dozens of mortars into southern Israel in what was reportedly their heaviest such barrage in two years.

    More than 1,300 Palestinians as well as 13 Israelis were killed.

    Air strikes in Gaza are not uncommon, but this seems to be one of the heaviest since Israel’s major military offensive between December 2008 and January 2009, our correspondent adds.



  2. sue says:

    Israel launched air strikes in the Gaza Strip on Monday, wounding at least 19 people, after militants fired mortar shells and rockets into the Jewish state, witnesses and militant groups said.

    The Israeli military said its warplanes fired at six targets on Monday in response to a rise in rocket and mortar attacks on Israel.
    He said the military held Hamas “solely responsible for terrorist activity in the Gaza Strip and warns Hamas not to continue its aggression.”

    Hamas medical officials said 19 people were wounded in the Israeli air strikes, including four militants, seven children and two women.

    The number of raids and casualties in one evening showed the rising tension between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist group that controls Gaza.
     About 130 such attacks had been made on Israel this year, 56 of them since Saturday, a military spokesman said.

    Hamas has stepped up rocket salvoes into Israel after a hiatus since the two sides fought a war two years ago, claiming responsibility for firing more than two dozen mortar shells and rockets at the weekend.

    Palestinian analysts linked the growing violence to calls for President Mahmoud Abbas to heal a four-year rift with Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in a bloody 2007 struggle with Abbas’s Western-backed Fatah movement.

    Militants in Gaza often fire rockets at Israel but Hamas itself had avoided doing so or claiming responsibility for such attacks in recent months.
    Abbas said last week he was willing to visit Gaza for talks designed to reunify Palestinian ranks.

    Some Hamas officials fear a reconciliation with Fatah could threaten the Islamists’ hegemony in Gaza. Israel has signaled it would see such reconciliation as a threat, given Hamas’s refusal to recognize its existence and join peace talks.

    “I think the escalation from the Hamas side is calculated,” Talal Okal, a Palestinian expert, said in an interview, adding that he believed Israel had similar motives, although both sides may try to avoid a wider conflagration.


  3. Moise Pippic says:

    The BBC is an ideologically driven leftist propoganda organisation paid for by an unwilling British taxpayer. Its  news and opinion programmes should be privatised and uncoupled from the remaining (taxpayer funded) cultural broadcasts.


  4. Phil says:

    Reuters doesn’t specialise in manufacturing downmarket TV programmes like Eastenders and Casualty.

    It’s a news organisation and its expertise shows.


  5. Craig says:

    Sue, I think your careful analysis has again shown that the BBC News website isn’t the place to go to get the full story. (Though it’s possibly the best place to find out what ‘Palestinian medics’ are saying).

    As Andrew said the other day, it really comes to something when you have to google around to fill in the major gaps in pretty much every story they publish from Israel. A corporation that likes to boast that it’s “the world’s largest news organisation” doesn’t deserve to be seen as “the world’s most trusted” (which it keeps saying it aspires to be). They refuse to report too many stories, they cut out too many crucial details, if they do report stories they didn’t want to report they do it much later than anyone else (and often tuck it away), they frequently refuse to update when new information comes to light that changes the essence of the story…

    That article on the “two Palestinians killed at Gaza-Israel border” (published two days ago) still hasn’t been updated to report that the men were “known to be gunmen“, not innocent civilians (as readers of the BBC would likely assume).

    BTW Jon Donnison has now got round to reporting on the violence directed at protestors and journalists by Hamas over the last week or so (better late than never). He goes into some detail, but the article itself is called Gaza Strip residents seek to join the ‘Arab spring’, which is not quite where you would expect to find the story (if you were looking for it).


  6. Daphne Anson says:

    Thanks for another masterly analysis!
    Jon Donnison, who I always think of as Jezza’s Apprentice, has a fulsome tribute to Gazans today, even their cats…


  7. David Preiser (USA) says:

    I agree with your categorizations, sue.  Well put.  My only quibble is that the BBC’s ghoulish Body Count Narrative for the Cast Lead is “context”, not off-topic (although at least they didn’t take the further foul step of demarcating Israel military casualties while never being honest about the Gazans).  Of course, the BBC refuses to provide similar context when discussing why Israel advanced over what we now call the West Bank in 1967.  There’s never any context provided in that case.  And even here the BBC’s “context” is skewed to support their agenda.

    It’s all very manipulative, not the least of which is the way the BBC’s style guide allows them to water down 130 to “dozens”.  Funny how they never play down anything Israel does like that.

    Stuck record time:  The BBC’s editorial policy is biased so as to deliberately demonize Israel at every opportunity, although the BBC disputes this.


  8. Craig says:

    The BBC’s Israel obsession keeps cropping up all over the place.

    On the question of “Is the right to intervene in Libya?” (last Sunday’s The Big Questions) Nicky Campbell asked this to Davis Lewin of the Henry Jackson Society in relation to Gaddafi’s attacks on his rebels: 

    It’s the muddy moral waters here. For example, some people have cited this, you know. The shelling of Gaza. Lots of innocent people died there, yet that was supported by the previous prime minist..the previous previous prime minister Tony Blair?

    A brief defence by Mr Lewin was interrupted with this remark from Nicky, “Well innocent people were dying..are dying on both occasions.”

    Then on last night’s Newsnight Jeremy Paxman asked Bernard-Henri Levy, when M. Levy was justifying the military action against Gaddafi on humanitarian grounds:
    Did it worry…you didn’t have similar thoughts about, for example, what happened in Gaza when the Israelis laid siege to it?”


  9. George R says:

    For INBBC:

    “Hamas protests UN plans to teach Gazans about the Holocaust”


  10. John says:

    I have to say until I started reading your posts I never realised how blatantly biased the BBC reporting of this conflict actually was.

    Now I am aware, it’s incredible to see how at every opportunity they symathise with Palestine, regardless of what has actually happened.

    Have you seen the headline now on the BBC front page? It’s not exactly the whole story is it….

    Strikes on Gaza ‘kill children’


    • David Preiser (USA) says:

      No children mentioned in any headline (or, hell, even in the first couple of paragraphs) of any BBC report about the cold-blooded murder of the Fogel family.  You can’t get any more biased than that.


    • pounce_uk says:

      I see the bBC has taken note of how its bias has been exposed ref the children article. Which explains why they have removed lock,stock and barrel the article from the net. Damn I should have screen captrued that page.


  11. sue says:

    “I never realised…”

    Yippee! Result!
    Makes my job worthwhile.


  12. George R says:

    We can expect INBBC to become even more anti-Sarah Palin now:

    “‘Why is Israel apologising all the time’: Sarah Palin shows her solidarity to the country on whistlestop tour of Jerusalem”

    Read more: