Wednesday, July 25, 2007

July 19 Media Critique: "6 Month Analysis of the BBC: The Subtle Bias"

Anything has to be better than the last couple of miserable efforts (even by their low standards) from HonestReporting.

This time we are treated to a “long-term analysis”. I’m almost excited.

It doesn’t start too well. HR sets the scene by telling us that the BBC is at its “lowest ebb” and gives a series of horrifying examples; a commenter on a Radio Five blog says that the Talmud permits Jews to lie to non-Jews, a phone-in competition was not above board, and the Queen was unfairly edited. I don’t know about you, but my trust in journalism has just hit rock-bottom.

And HR sum it up perfectly,

If the organization [BBC] is capable of showing such little respect for the British monarch ………….. is it any surprise that it consistently treats Israel with utter disdain?

Indeed! Israel…the Queen.....they’re both royalty and expect to be treated as such. Mess with us and we’ll set the corgi’s on you!

This is HRs overall point,

What we saw was a clear pattern of showcasing the Palestinian perspective, at the expense of Israeli voices.

Ok, let’s put aside their history of outrageous dishonesty and strident pro-Israel partisanship and give HR a chance to show that they have done some serious media analysis.

“Headlines and Grammatical Style in "Hard News" Articles”

Finding: BBC headlines and text tend to use a style that describes Palestinian violence ambiguously (only naming the aggressor 15% of the time) while being much more direct in cases where the Israeli military is involved (Israel is mentioned in 60% of these cases.)

We aren’t given the whole sample so there is no way of checking their 15% figure. But we can look at the examples they provide. First, it’s a story about an Israeli airstrike (“Israeli Airstrike Hits North Gaza”) in Gaza that injures 1 Palestinian. HR says this is an “active” headline, and complain that the Qassam launch that “precipitated” it (according to HR) wasn’t mentioned till the forth paragraph. Funnily enough, the killing of 3 IJ members in the West Bank a few days earlier that 'precipitated' the 11 Qassam launches wasn’t mentioned till the 6th paragraph, but HR fail to notice a detail like that.

But, as HR ask “Is there consistency”?

Rather than a headline similar to the one from May 7, the BBC employed a softer approach….

Oh, really? HR are referring to this story “Eight killed in ‘ambush by Hamas’”. Well, that’s the “hard”, “active” headline – Hamas kill eight. Bizarrely, HR try to argue that this is “softer” than the first example! Let’s just try to understand this HR logic; ‘Hamas kill eight’ is “softer” than ‘Israel hits north Gaza’??

In isolation, the use of the active tense does not indicate any sort of bias….
No, but ignoring its use in a story about Hamas to try to falsely criticize the BBC screams bias long and loud.

Well, I gave them a chance, but it’s the same old distortions and lies.

HR goes on to claim that stories on Palestinian violence are “either written without naming the aggressor at all, or written in the passive tense” and gives 4 links as examples, 25% of which (ie 1) HR manage to get completely wrong. In the story titled “Fresh Violence hits the Gaza strip”, the primary violence in the story is the killing of 8 Palestinians in Israeli air-strikes. The Palestinian violence for that day was 1 Palestinian injured in a gun battle. So yes, that was the use of the passive voice but it was precisely the opposite of what HR were claiming.

As you can see, HR make some rather convenient ‘errors’ in constructing their media “analysis”, which is why it’s best to take HR’s claims with a very large dose of salt.

“Selection of Perspectives in "Soft" News”

HR think they are on to something,

Finding: The BBC consistently highlights Palestinian perspectives at the expense of Israeli voices. In twenty-three articles containing pictures and interviews of random subject, nineteen were of Palestinians.

HR have conveniently short memories. Last May the BBC released its’ report of the review of it’s Israel-Palestine coverage, a review that groups like HR had long demanded. HR were quick to note this part of the report,

In summary, the finding is that BBC coverage does not consistently constitute a full and fair account of the conflict but rather, in important respects, presents an incomplete and in that sense misleading picture.

But completely ignored the detail of the finding as to which “important aspects” where missing,

  • there was little reporting of the difficulties faced by Palestinians in their daily lives…
  • failure to convey adequately the disparity in the Israeli and Palestinian experience, reflecting the fact that one side is in control and the other lives under occupation…

So, HR is right that it there has been a greater number of Palestinian voices in this “soft news” category, but this is in response to an identified problem in BBC reporting.

More Palestinians being able to speak for themselves. No wonder HR don’t like it.

Friday, July 13, 2007

July 11 Media Critique: “LA Times: Giving a Voice to Hamas”

More extreme intolerance from HonestReporting.

And again it brazenly asserts its anti-free speech credentials, suggesting that the LA Times be prosecuted for reporting the views of a member of Hamas, Mousa Abu Marzook.

It’s also full of the usual distortions we’ve come to expect from ‘Honest'Reporting. One example will do.

Marzook claims the right of resistence from the Generva Conventions. HR say,

However, even Human Rights Watch, an organization not regarded as friendly towards Israel, clearly stated: "Hamas has repeatedly failed to respect a fundamental rule of international humanitarian law by attacking civilians and civilian objects."

Yes, HRW did say that regarding specific Palestinian actions, but that does not magically negate IHL.

It’s a bizarre situation where anyone would suggest that truly honest reporting would be served by media organizations self-censoring views that some might not like to hear.

But that is HonestReporting for you. They’ve moved on from simply making hysterical claims of anti-Israel bias, to demanding that views and opinions they don’t like should not be reported.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

July 6 Media Critique: "Barghouti is no Mandela"

The relentless anti-Israel media bias conspiracy is a little slow at the moment, so HonestReporting need to borrow from HR-Canada for this weeks dose of stupidity.

A Toronto Star article simply puts forth the fact that some consider Barghouti the “Palestinian Mandela”, and also the fact that some don’t.

Another example of how HRs' perspective is distorted by its’ strident pro-Israel partisanship (ie. bias). An article that simply reports the fact of the existence of particular views about Marwan Barghouti and notes a few specific similarities is attacked as if it has endorsed the view that Barghouti is exactly like Mandela. Yet further proof of the intolerance of differing opinions that is the underlying motivator for all of HonestReportings’ mendacious and mean-spirited rubbish.