Selective PSC outrage over BBC impartiality and integrity

This article was originally published at the British political blog Harry’s Place.  

The Palestine Solidarity Campaign needs no introduction and neither does its recently accelerated campaign to try to persuade the British public that the BBC suffers from pro-Israel bias. At her usual Electronic Intifada gig on August 3rd, PSC activist Amena Saleem wrote:EG

“Pro-Israeli broadcasters are finding it ever harder to defend Israel in the face of the large-scale massacres and destruction in Gaza, but the BBC is determined to do its best, sacrificing all claims to impartiality and journalistic integrity in the process.

In addition to flooding its radio and television programs with Israeli spokespeople, while keeping Palestinian voices to a minimum, the BBC, as it did during Israel’s 2012 assault on Gaza, has taken to presenting pro-Israel commentators as independent.

BBC audiences are, therefore, given strong doses of pro-Israeli propaganda — being told that Hamas is using civilians as human shields, that Israel has shown nothing but restraint in the face of constant rocket attacks, that it is defending its citizens and so on — while under the impression that they are hearing neutral, independent comment.

These key Israeli messages are, of course, more likely to be believed by viewers and listeners if they think they are impartial observations, rather than the opinions of pro-Israeli spokespeople.”

Saleem goes on to produce a list of examples of what she claims were inadequate introductions on the part of the BBC which failed to clarify the supposedly pro-Israel stance of contributors and recounts that in one case:

“The Palestine Solidarity Campaign wrote to the BBC to remind it of its own editorial guidelines, which include this: “We should normally identify on-air and online sources of information and significant contributors, and provide their credentials, so that our audiences can judge their status.”

For once, the BBC was quick to write back, sending this by email: “We apologize for this and would like to assure you that the matter has been raised with the relevant editorial staff at the BBC News Channel, who have been reminded of the need to clearly describe the ideology of such organizations in our coverage.” “

BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality do indeed relate to the issue of clarification of the viewpoint of interviewees in section 4.4.14 and in October of last year the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit recommitted to the practice of “summarising the standpoint” of contributors after the Palestine Solidarity Campaign made a complaint based on similar claims to those appearing in Saleem’s above article.

However, the selective nature of Amena Saleem’s interest in this matter indicates that it does not stem from genuine concerns about BBC impartiality and journalistic integrity but is a tactic employed in the broader PSC public relations strategy.

Read the rest of the article here

4 comments on “Selective PSC outrage over BBC impartiality and integrity

  1. I find it outrageous that PSC is hosting a debate right now, with live stream, high profile speakers such as film director Ken Loach, on a subject that is the complete opposite to which they propose to discuss. BBC biased against Gaza coverage?? What planet have these people been on for the last how many weeks? I have sometimes wanted to resort to tears watching the anti-Israel rhetoric pouring from every orifice by Jon Snow, Newsnight, and so on. How is it that the PSC can be this powerful? Should we, the Jewish and pro-Israel community, be organising our own forum?

  2. Just looked on the PSC website whilst watching above live stream discussion and their ‘Upcoming Events’ notifications just leave me gobsmacked. Practically every other week there is an event campaigning against Israel, be it outside Sainsbury’s, at a school fete, mass lobby of Parliament for Gaza…and so it goes on.

    Why are so many Brits obsessed by Israel? I feel overwhelmed by the multitude of anti-Israel groups that one can join in each London Borough, let alone each town and city in the UK.

  3. Pingback: BBC R4 promotes unchallenged anti-Israel propaganda and warped histories of Jerusalem | BBC Watch

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