Bad press, complaints lodged over BBC’s Lions Gate terror attack headline

The egregious headline which appeared on the BBC News website on the evening of October 3rd following the murders of two Israelis and the wounding of two more by a Palestinian terrorist – “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two” – has been the topic of broader media attention (see for example herehere, here and here) as well as the subject of official complaints lodged by the Government Press Office in Jerusalem and the Israeli embassy in London, which have in turn prompted further reports on the story.Pigua Lions Gate art vers 1

“According to a GPO official, Israel expects an official apology from the network, and said the office was considering annulling the press cards of BBC journalists, a decision that if implemented would not allow the network to continue operating in Israel.”

The Israeli website NRG reported that an unofficial BBC response stated that:

“It seems to have been about […] the mistake of a junior editor at the desk ‘and not about a clear agenda’…..”

This of course would not be the first time that the BBC has used the ‘shin gimmel formula’ to deflect criticism concerning its failure to adhere to its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. Similar strategies employed to divert criticism of the frequently seen failure to report terror attacks on Israeli civilians at all include the “very busy news period” and “smaller operation at the weekend” formulae. 

Obviously, BBC editorial guidelines apply to all content produced by the corporation, regardless of whether the person manning the desk at the time happens to be a “junior” employee or not and it is worth recalling that the BBC’s guidelines on reporting War, Terror and Emergencies stress that:

“At such times, when there may be conflicting information and opinions, and with reliable information hard to come by, we need to be scrupulous in applying our principles of accuracy and impartiality.”

So if, perchance, the head of the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau or his superiors would like to carry out a serious examination of the question of whether “a clear (political) agenda” might have played a role in the creation of that miserable headline, all he has to do is search the archives of this site – particularly under the tag ‘terrorism’.

Related Articles:

BBC News coverage of terrorism – August 2015

BBC News coverage of terrorism – July 2015

BBC News coverage of terrorism in Israel – June 2015 & Q2 2015

A worldwide platform for incitement from BBC Arabic’s Nawal Assad

BBC’s Jon Donnison summoned to Government Press Office hearing

BBC Watch can now confirm that a report (Hebrew) which appeared on the Israeli website ‘Walla!’ on November 25th2012 is correct. 

An article on the same subject in English also appeared at The Algemeiner.  

The BBC’s Jon Donnison, together with the head of the BBC Jerusalem Bureau and head of the Foreign Press Association, Paul Danahar, has been summoned by the Government Press Office in Israel to a hearing this coming Wednesday (November 28th) on the subject of Donnison’s Tweet of a picture of a child casualty from Syria as though it were from Gaza – as first publicised by BBC Watch on November 19th 2012. 

Potentially, this exceptional and unusual step on the part of the GPO could lead to Donnison’s Press Credentials being revoked, which would make it very difficult indeed for him to work in the region.  

BBC Watch’s Managing Editor Hadar Sela said:

“It is unfortunate that Donnison has jeopardised his career in such a manner, through his failure to adhere to the BBC’s own Editorial Guidelines on accuracy and impartiality and its existing guidance on the use of social media.

The BBC’s funding British public, as well as millions of people around the world who rely on the BBC for trustworthy information, no doubt also await the results of a BBC investigation into Donnison’s breach of his organisation’s Editorial Guidelines.”