Obsession in numbers: comparing BBC coverage of elections in Israel and Jordan

The day after the elections in Israel on January 22nd 2013, a no less important (and some would say, much more consequential) election was held in the country next door – Jordan. Comparing the BBC’s coverage of the two elections we see some very interesting trends and phenomena. 

The Jordanian elections were the subject of a total of five reports on the BBC News website. Two of those articles were published the day before the election: a Q&A item and an article entitled “Jordan election: Risks of not changing“. On the day of the election itself – January 23rd – two items appeared on the BBC News website: one filmed report and one written item. The day after the election, one report was published. 

In none of those reports do any of the following words or phrases appear: Right-wing, far-right, ultra-nationalist, hardline. The main opposition movement in Jordan – the Muslim Brotherhood’s ‘Islamic Action Front’ – is described as having a “moderate tone”. One adjective used to describe some candidates in the election is “socially-conservative”. 

“As in previous elections, most of the 1,500 candidates are nominally independent but tend to be socially-conservative government loyalists. Their campaign material is long on family heritage – important in a traditional society like Jordan – and short on campaign pledges.”

By comparison, the BBC’s coverage of the Israeli elections began long before the day prior to the vote. In the days and weeks before the elections, the BBC News website published eight  articles – see herehere, here, here, here, here, here and here.  The BBC World programme ‘Hardtalk‘ also addressed the subject of the elections. 

The day before the Israeli elections, the BBC News website published six reports – see here, here, here, here, here and here

On the day of the elections themselves (January 22nd) six new articles appeared on the BBC News website – see here, here, here, here, here and here. One additional report by Jon Donnison was published and then later scrapped. The BBC also created and promoted a designated Twitter list of its correspondents Tweeting about the Israeli elections. 

The BBC News website produced 12 reports on the day after the election (January 23rd) – see here, here, here, here,here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here

So – to compare the numbers – in the days and weeks before both elections, the BBC News website produced no articles on Jordan and nine on Israel. On the respective days prior to the elections, the BBC News website produced two articles about Jordan and six about Israel. On the respective days of elections themselves, the BBC News website produced two articles about Jordan and seven about Israel, with a designated Twitter list created only for the latter. On the respective days following the elections, the BBC News website produced one article about Jordan and twelve about Israel. 

The total number of articles about the Jordanian election was five, whilst the total number of articles about the Israeli election was thirty-four, along with a dedicated Twitter list. 

Can routine elections in a vibrant democracy really be said to justify seven times more coverage than elections held in a monarchy as part of efforts to contain local manifestations of a region-wide wave of public dissent?

 

5 comments on “Obsession in numbers: comparing BBC coverage of elections in Israel and Jordan

  1. Great compilation of easily verifiable FACTS.

    I really hope that this post is read by people who have a say on the future of the Biased BBC.

  2. “Can routine elections in a vibrant democracy really be said to justify seven times more coverage than elections held in a monarchy as part of efforts to contain local manifestations of a region-wide wave of public dissent?”

    YES

    next you’ll be saying that coverage of elections in france, or germany or the USA should have less coverage.

    • NO
      Number 1, the total population of Israel is less than 1/8 that of France, less than 1/10 that of Germany, and about 1/40 that of the US. Libero-fascists try to make it more significant than it is because of the peace process. Thus, they continue to delude themselves into thinking that if Israel were to meet all of the Arabs’ demands, then there would be peace.

      Dream on.

  3. This is a great and well researched post (unlike what appears in much of the MSM) that shows the relative importance of Jordan in world affairs compared to Israel as well as the obsessive coverage of every dog and cat in Israel.

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