The BBC is one of the more politically slanted reporting agencies in the world. It hides behind its squeaky clean reputation and relative lack of accountability - it is under less pressure to vie for ratings than many privately owned networks.

Just one small anecdote to illustrate my point (I'm sure those in the know can furnish many more). In the late 80's, at the height of the Intifada in the occupied territories of Palestine, the BBC did a heart rending piece about a hospital in East Jerusalem which was being denied life saving equipment by the heartless and malicious Israeli establishment. There was an interview with an earnest looking and agitated doctor, with lots of shots of him wringing his hands in would-be despair.

There was an uproar. The international community demanded reparations from the heartless Israeli opressors on behalf of the downtrodden Palestinians. An ambassador or two decided to take sudden trips abroad. A couple of minor dignitaries cancelled their visits to Israel. And of course, the fighting between the Israeli armed forces and the Palestinian Shabab - youth - on the streets in Gaza and the West Bank got worse.

Now, assuming that we all know the news can't be 100% true, what do you think was the extent of the exaggeration in this reportage? Perhaps the Israeli authorities haven't been refusing passage to the lorries carrying the machinery for quite as long as they were making out, right? Or perhaps they had some sort of good reason to delay the equipment for legal reasons. Or perhaps taxes haven't been paid on it in full. Any amount of possible little vindications for the inhumane Israeli occupying forces, right?

Well guess what: it never happened. None of it. There was a delay in shipment of some medical equipment to a hospital in East Jerusalem that had nothing to do with Israel, but rather with the manufacturers in Germany. There was an interview made with a doctor about the difficulties this was causing his department. There was another interview, made months earlier, with the same doctor but on an unrelated subject, in which he expressed his dissatisfaction with the Israely authorities. The two had been doctored together to create a news story that never was. All those cuts to the doctor wringing his hands were put in to cover the fact that he wasn't actually saying what the soundrack said he was saying (they couldn't use the images from the older interview, obviously, because it would have been in a different room, from a different angle etc.).

The BBC were penalised by whatever body it is regulates international truth in reportage, and other networks were forbidden to buy footage from them for a space of two years - quite a sizeable dent in income for the beeb.

I have been following the BBC and other UK and Irish coverage of the Middle East avidly since I've been here. It's disgraceful. I am not a nationalist by any means, but the extent to which the local media misrepresents the incredibly complex reality of Israel's involvement in the conflict is enough to teach the Enquirer some tricks.

For a background on the subject of this node, and for the orginal writeup from which the title was borrowed, please refer to why the news media suck.

The BBC is only politically impartial within the UK, Since that is the limit of its public service charter.

It is quite free to be biased on political issues outside the country.

However, that doesn't excuse deliberate misrepresentation of the facts, but it does allow it to choose which side of an argument it's going support.

I cannot argue about the case you have made, as I can find no evidence of it (note: I am no calling you a liar, or saying it didn't happen. I'm just not going to comment on something I have no knowledge on :). But calling the BBC racist? I'm not sure I agree with that.

If the incident above did happen (and I'm not calling you a liar! :), then surely they have learned from their mistakes? I cannot see where you are coming from when you call them racist (the papers would leap all over them if that were so). And one of the more politically slanted? Rubbish. American news organisations (which happen to be the world's largest) are far more politically slanted, using biased rhetoric to influence public opinion because the more interesting news service will get the higher ratings. I watch the BBC news every day, and I have always found their news to be fair and unbiased. Perhaps you can back up your statements with more evidence than an event which happened 10-15 years ago?
TheLady far be it from me to accuse someone I don't know much about of bias, but I get the impression that if the situation had been reversed, and you had seen and heard a strongly pro-Israel, anti-Palestine report on the BBC, you would not have produced such a vitriolic writeup. However be that as it may, the fact remains that the BBC occupies a unique status in the world of news reporting. It is not funded by private capital so has no proprietor to kowtow to. It does not carry advertisements so never needs to keep its advertisers sweet. It isn't funded exclusively by the Government so doesn't need to bow down to the current political orthodoxy of whichever party is currently in power over at Westminster. It's funded by every person in the UK who owns a radio or television set, through a compulsory taxation system (the TV licence).

So what's the implication of all this? Well, with no single body or organisation controlling its money the BBC (theoretically at least) has the freedom to report the complete truth. In reality the very nature of journalism and editors will mean that there is always a political choice made as to what appears on the BBC News and what doesn't; whether there is political bias is another question. However assuming that TheLady is correct, you have to ask yourself why. What purpose would be gained by the BBC in attacking Israel in such a way: is Greg Dyke (current controller of the BBC) a closet Palestinian nationalist? Are the journalists hoping to get out into western Jerusalem and start shooting at Israeli troops? I think it's unlikely.

I would like to suggest that if the BBC is reporting things from a different angle to most of the western media it is not an indication of bias on the part of the BBC, but rather an indication that much of the rest of the media feels a need to justify US foreign policy in the Middle East, whereas the BBC can try to offer just a glimpse of things from another point of view.

Personally, I believe the BBC is an admirable public service, and also a world-leader in broadcasting. It's one of a select few things which the British people can still hold up as a model for the rest of the world.

Having said that...

The news on BBC suffers from the same disease as almost every other news medium in Britain: reporting facts coldly and impartially seems to be anathema. The correspondent is expected not only to tell you what's happening, but also how you should feel about the situation. In a typical example, the newsreader will introduce the story with a bland statement, along the lines of "100 people are feared dead after a plane crash in X", and then pass over to the filmed report, which will begin, "Words cannot describe the feelings of loss and devestation felt by the relatives... etc. etc."

This riles me no end. I know how I feel about this event! I just need to be told the facts, embellished of course with some colour, or the reporter's personal style, but my emotional response is my own.

At the extreme end of this spectrum, of course, are the tabloid newspapers, who have no hesitation in branding a criminal "evil", or otherwise directly informing their readers how they should feel. However, even The Guardian, which I would regard as the most sensible of British newspapers (probably only because it errs on the side closest to my political opinion), cannot resist emotionalising every single news story.

I can only really compare it to the Irish media, so perhaps this doesn't seem so unusual to others. I'd actually be quite interested to hear what other people perceive the job of the media to be.

The remit of the BBC is to be impartial in reporting on local and national politics and events.

As far as the rest of the world is concerned, they really don't have any duty to report anything impartially except where it impacts on British interests, foreign or domestic. I'm sure they try to do so impartially, although everyone's definition of impartial seems to be different to everyone else's.

I have no comment on the story above although it does seem more than a little fantastic to the outside observer. One wonders who Auntie Beeb first bought that story from and who was actually responsible for filming and reporting it.

If there is any domestic problem with the BBC's news reportage, it is a massive tendency toward sensationalist, tabloidesque stories and scaremongering.

Remember all the hysteria over BSE? We were all going to die, they had experts predicting mass epidemics of new variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. This was, of course, a huge lie.

Going on further, we have the BBC whipping up a revolting grief-frenzy over Princess Diana and declaring her the People's Princess along with all that other frankly disgusting self-indulgent crap.

Tabloid Television is the only way to describe it, and it's probably what was responsible for the gross misrepresentation detailed in the writeup above.

See also: Checkbook Journalism, Rupert Murdoch.

Addendum:I dont see how the Israeli episode above can be called racially slanted. Politically slanted, yes, but I see no evidence of racism in the story. Given that Jews and Palestinians are all Semites, a racial motivation seems, to say the least, unlikely.

I do remember that the Glasgow Media Group, a media monitoring organisation associated with Glasgow University, published a report in the Eighties, updated in the Nineties, detailing their evidence that the BBC tended to take the side of employers in industrial disputes

This often came about through unthinking assumptions, i.e. a strike was "a bad thing" rather than "refreshing evidence that the working class are willing to struggle for economic justice".

I think this remains the most valid critique of the BBC - I don't think they go out of their way to bend the facts, and especially living here in China where the media is a whole other thing, I appreciate the breadth and range of differing viewpoints they give space to, but they have their worldview and assumptions and it colours what they tell you - as in the example above, as in the reporting of the Balkans conflict, as in their reporting of Islam, and so forth

The BBC is not politically impartial

Perhaps one reason the BBC feels compelled to represent the "other view" regarding the Palestinian-Israeli conflict (as opposed to US foreign policy ceaselessly promulgated by the American media) is that Britain suffers from a guilt complex. After all, it was partially their failure to secure for the Palestinians any form of guarantee for self-government after their mandate passed away that led to some 900 000 achieving refugee status by 1948. While most of the shame-ridden "West" sought to recompense the Holocaust survivors in any way they could, two million Palestinians were displaced in the process from British Mandate Palestine. When the BBC presents the suffering of the Palestinian, it is attempting to tip the balance slightly in their favour, and rightly so.

On the other hand, their recent coverage of the Zimbabwe land issue was completely biased. I couldn't get over the lingering "imperialist" mindset, but then you've got to repress certain memories otherwise you might completely lose any sense of patriotism. Not half a century ago, the British had done to Zimbabwe's land owners what Israel had done (and still is) to Palestinians.

There is not one single news source that could, or should , be completely trusted. If everyone was interested in "The Truth" the world would be a different place. Such is the difficulty for one person to be politically impartial, so much more a whole organization.

I used to subscribe to the good old 'impartial BBC' theory, where everyone has a fair opportunity to state their side of the story, and you can trust what you see or hear.

Living in Israel for 9 years has disabused me of that. Their reports are heavily slanted towards the Palestinians (and I speak as someone who regards the occupation as being brutal and inhumane).

Just one small example - Hilary Anderson reported from Gaza in mid-February 2001 and showed a clip of two Palestinians writhing in agony in hospital - evidently as a result of what the Israelis had done to them. Later it transpired that this was a setup - the PNA were claiming that Israel had been using some new form of nerve gas. Likewise, the reports of Israel using uranium-tipped ammunition are unfounded.

Much blood has been spilt here since this node was originally written in 2001 in the first few months of the second (Al-Aqsa) Intifada.

Since then the BBC has paid considerably more attention to telling both sides of the story.

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