The wonderfully balanced British public broadcaster has some problems:
A study (pdf) I wrote, published by Arab Media Watch on 10 June 2009, confirms that the BBC’s coverage favours Israel. This comes as no surprise, as its findings echo those of numerous previous studies by AMW, universities and others, including the major, independent impartiality review commissioned by the BBC a few years ago.
What is surprising, given the review’s findings, is the continued extent of this one-sidedness, a sign that little has been learned from past mistakes.
AMW monitored BBC Online news articles about violence between Israelis and Palestinians over four months (February-May 2009). This aspect was chosen because it is one of the most reported in a conflict that is almost always in the news, and thus shapes public attitudes towards the peoples involved.
AMW analysed the prominence of each side’s viewpoint and version of events by monitoring how many words were devoted to quoting and paraphrasing Israeli and Palestinian sources, and in what order they were reported. AMW also analysed the prevalence with which each side were portrayed as instigating or responding to violence.
While every BBC article included Israeli sources, 35% had no Palestinian sources. Some of those articles omitted Palestinian statements and viewpoints that were available in other respected news outlets, such as reactions to Israeli violence or explaining why Palestinian violence took place. Of the 65% of articles containing Palestinian sources, 82% devoted more words to Israeli sources. This, as the study says, is “a woeful imbalance”.