Friday, August 25, 2006

August 22: "Covering the Conflict in the North."

This is a bit like a game. See how many ‘errors’ HonestReporting makes in it’s sermons to the faithful.

HR has done us the favour of a “review some of the worst cases of media bias”.

It’s heady stuff. Just look at this,

Hezbollah manipulation of Journalists
The problem, supposedly, is that CNNs Nic Robertson “simply accepts” the claims of the Hizballah press officer who appears on the segment. HR quotes Robertson as saying “No evidence of military equipment here”.

But true to HR form, this isn’t exactly what he said. This was Robertson’s comment, as they surveyed the rubble,

No evidence apparent of military equipment
A perfectly accurate summation of what the viewer could see on the screen. HR manipulates Robertson words by removing the important qualifier “apparent”.

Just the usual “manipulation” and “bias” that we expect from oh-so HonestReporting.

HonestReporting is to honesty, what Orwells ‘Ministry of Truth’ was to truth.

Disproportionate Reporting
This is no more than a demand for more coverage of damage in northern Israel, without the slightest hint as to why the coverage might have been “disproportionate”. My guess is that it’s because the much greater damage in Lebanon received greater coverage. That’s disproportionate for HR.

They make reference to a HonestReporting UK story that purports to show the BBC exaggerating damage, but it’s just another example of HR distorting items of media coverage to fabricate its claims.

Inflated Accounts of Lebanese Casualties
What do we call this? Studied stupidity, deliberate obtuseness?

HRs example is an AFP story that reports the claim by the Lebanese PM of the death of 40 civilians in Hula. Only one person was actually killed. HR says that AFP “simply accepted Siniora's accusation at face value:

No, you idiots – AFP reported them. Just as it endlessly reported Israel claims that it never targeted civilians despite evidence to the contrary. This is what reporters do, they report.

This is an old favourite of HRs – to conflate reporting with endorsing. Reporting is ‘x said 20 people died’, while endorsing is ‘20 people died’.

Basic stuff that any half serious media critic knows.

Manipulated and Staged Photographs
I always enjoy it when HR shoot themselves in the foot, a rather frequent event.

They revisit the digitally altered image of Beirut, then present a pair of photos, one with a young man lying in the rubble and then another with the same man up and walking around. Apparently he was injured while helping clear the rubble. For HR this is some kind of evidence of media bias – he wasn’t injured in the actual bombing, just the aftermath. That does raise an interesting point – any civilians killed or injured when buildings collapse due to earlier Israeli bombing are not, according to HR, victims of Israeli bombing.

Next, HR fulminate over staged photos. In one scene a body is being put into an ambulance. This is re-done, presumable to get a ‘better’ shot. There is no suggestion that the body isn’t real, just that it was “posed” for the benefit of the camera which is “manipulation”, and hence part of anti-Israel bias, according to HR.

HR is deeply concerned that “numerous photographs have been …….deliberately staged”.

Shocking isn’t it? But just how principled is HR’s stance over “deliberately staged” photos? As we’d expect from HR – not at all.

Remember this photo from just a few weeks back?

And remember how HR stated that these were “damning photos’?

As is immediately obvious to anyone, this is a “staged” photo. The driver casually leaning on the open door, looking to camera, the crowd on the back of the truck, which they wouldn’t be if it was actually in use. It’s as spontaneous a photo as you might get at a birthday party.

Since HR acknowledges the “need for factual, impartial and fair reporting”, I’m sure they won’t mind if people send them an email ( asking to explain their manipulation of quotes and their endorsement of “posed” and “deliberately staged" photos.