Friday, April 17, 2009

BBC report finds inaccuracy and impartiality in Israel coverage

From Ynet News, 16/4/09:

News agency's editorial standards committee finds Middle East Editor in breach of guidelines of accuracy and impartiality.

BBC's Middle East Editor, Jeremy Bowen, reported inaccurate information, an internal BBC committee found this week, suggesting an anti-Israel bias in the national new agency's reporting.

[no surpises there! - SL]

The BBC's Trust Editorial Standards Committee responded in a Wednesday report to complaints dealing with two articles: A radio show called "From Our Own Correspondent" aired on BBC Radio 4 in 2008 and a written piece entitled "How 1967 defined the Middle East" from 2007.

The panel reviewed the items following complaints by a member of the Zionist Federation of Great Britain and Ireland, regarding Bowen's inaccuracy and lack of impartiality.

In the episode of, "From Our Own Correspondent" on Israeli settlement of Har Homa, near Jerusalem, the internal committee found that Bowen had used imprecise wording to assert that the settlement was considered illegal by the United States. As such, they wrote, he had breached the guidelines of accuracy, but not impartiality.

They also found a number of phrases in his 2007 articles inappropriate, such as his reference to "Zionism's innate instinct to push out the frontier," his claim that Israeli generals felt that they were dealing with "unfinished business", left over from the 1948 War of Independence, and his assertion of Israel's "defiance of everyone's interpretation of international law except its own." In this article, the committee found Bowen had breached guidelines of both accuracy and impartiality.

The BBC said it had no intention of taking any disciplinary action against Bowen and rejected claims that Bowen's actions reflected any anti-Israel bias by the BBC, stating that the inaccuracies were found in a few sections of a few articles.

Nonetheless, according to British daily The Independent, the censure will cause great concern within the BBC newsroom. It reported that many sources within the BBC had expressed anger at the committee, claiming it was undermining the credibility of its news reporting.
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