BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part five

In the first four installments of this post (see ‘related articles’ below) we documented BBC News website coverage of the first forty days of Operation Protective Edge. Part five relates to the final ten days of the conflict and the day after the ceasefire agreement was reached: August 17th to August 27th 2014 inclusive.

Content on the website included written news reports and written ‘Features and Analysis’ articles as well as filmed items presented as stand-alone reports and additionally often embedded into the written articles. Those filmed items also appeared on BBC television news programmes and hence give us an idea of what worldwide audiences were being shown and to what extent the BBC lived up to its claims of “equal coverage” of the two sides to the conflict.

A small amount of content which appeared on the BBC News website at the time has since become unavailable, but below are the vast majority of the reports offered to the website’s visitors. We are not including here the many reports concerning demonstrations relating to the conflict in Europe and elsewhere which appeared on the Middle East page: that topic will be covered separately.

August 17th:Chart Aug 17

Written:

Gaza conflict: Peace talks resume in Cairo  (discussed here)

Features:

Gaza: What does the future hold for the children?  Kevin Connolly (discussed here)

August 18th:

Written:Chart Aug 18

Arrests at protests against Israeli mixed wedding

Gaza conflict: Peace talks continue as deadline looms

Filmed:

Interfaith wedding: ‘It’s time the Muslims leave Israel’

August 19th:

Written:Chart Aug 19

Gaza ceasefire ‘extended by a day’ after Cairo talks  (discussed here)

Features:

Gaza’s infrastructure crippled by conflict  Yolande Knell 

Filmed:

Strikes hit Gaza after rockets fired  Yolande Knell in Gaza & Kevin Connolly in Israel

Gaza conflict: Israel hits Gaza after rockets fired  Kevin Connolly

Israel-Gaza crisis: Palestinians downbeat on Cairo talks   Azzam al Ahmed

Israel: Ceasefire in Gaza ‘a two-way street’  Mark Regev

Bristol doctor Rachael Craven treats wounded in Gaza  Gaza

August 20th:Chart Aug 20

Written:

Gaza conflict: Truce ends amid fresh fighting (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Israel ‘targets Hamas leader Deif’ (discussed here)  

Filmed:

Daniel Barenboim: ‘No one winning Middle East conflict’

Gaza conflict: Operation ‘not finished’ – Benjamin Netanyahu

Gaza conflict: Israel ‘targets Hamas leader Deif’   Yolande Knell in Gaza

Gaza conflict: Israel ‘targets Hamas leader Deif’  Yolande Knell in Gaza

August 21st:Chart Aug 21

Written:

Gaza crisis: Israel kills three top Hamas commanders  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Hamas: Palestinians ‘will continue to resist’  Ihab Al-Ghussin

Gaza crisis: Israel kills three top Hamas commanders  Yolande Knell in Gaza

Gaza: Thousands rally for Hamas leaders’ funerals  Shahdi Alkashif in Gaza

August 22nd:Chart Aug 22

Written:

Gaza: Hamas says 18 suspected informants executed   (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Israeli boy’s death ‘will intensify ops’  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Suspected informants killed in Gaza  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza (discussed here)

Israeli child ‘killed by rocket fired from Gaza’  Mark Lobel in Israel (discussed here)

August 23rd:Chart Aug 23

Written:

Gaza conflict: Mahmoud Abbas urges fresh talks in Egypt  (discussed here)

Holocaust families criticise Israel over Gaza  later amended and date changed (discussed here)

Filmed:

Israel continues air strikes on Gaza targets  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza (discussed here)

August 24th:Chart Aug 24

Written:

Gaza conflict: Erez crossing ‘attacked’ amid Israel raids  (discussed here)

Filmed:

Gaza residences targeted in Israel air strikes  Alpa Patel  (discussed here)

Apartment block destroyed after Israeli air strike   Quentin Sommerville in Gaza

August 25th:Chart Aug 25

Written:

Gaza: Eight die in Israeli strikes as ‘new truce floated’

August 26th:

Features:

Gaza-Israel conflict: Is the fighting over?

Filmed:Chart Aug 26

Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree new truce  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree long-term truce  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza (discussed here)

Gaza conflict: Abbas declares acceptance of truce

Ceasefire ‘good for Gaza, good for Israel’ – Mark Regev

August 27th:Chart Aug 27

Written:

Gaza conflict: Israel and Palestinians agree long-term truce (discussed here)

Gaza ceasefire: Thousands return home as calm returns

Gaza conflict: Israeli PM Netanyahu says war was ‘victory’ (discussed here)

Features:

Indecisive end to Gaza conflict  Kevin Connolly

Filmed:

Gaza ceasefire: ‘It feels like normal life’  Quentin Sommerville in Gaza

Steinitz: Israel paid heavy price over Gaza  Yuval Steinitz

Military reoccupation of Gaza ‘was seriously considered’  Yuval Steinitz

Gaza-Israel ceasefire: Scepticism on Jerusalem streets

As was also the case in the previous ten days of the conflict, the period between August 17th and August 27th showed a drop in the amount of content produced by the BBC in comparison with its coverage of the first thirty days of hostilities after the number of journalists working in the Gaza Strip was reduced and media attentions shifted somewhat to the ISIS-related events in Iraq and Syria.

However, BBC audiences still saw over four times as much filmed content depicting the situation in the Gaza Strip as they did concerning the situation in Israel.

Graph Aug 17 to 27

BBC promotion of Hamas’ demands to lift border restrictions remained a prominent theme in the final days of coverage. The theme of Gaza’s damaged infrastructure – also a popular topic in the weeks since the conflict’s end – also continued to be promoted.

The BBC continued to misrepresent the terrorists’ breaches of truce agreements and bizarrely and misleadingly portrayed the ceasefire negotiations held in Cairo as “peace talks”. Missile fire into Israel was again severely under-reported. 

Graph Jul 8 to Aug 27

In the period between July 8th and August 27th, four hundred and sixteen separate items of content (not including the exceptions noted above) appeared on the BBC News website’s Middle East page; an average of over eight items a day. The predominant type of report presented was written news reports – 121 in total. Over a quarter of the content made available to visitors to the BBC News website came in the form of filmed reports depicting the situation in the Gaza Strip (also shown on BBC television news programmes). Throughout the entire 51 days of coverage, BBC audiences saw nearly three times more filmed reports from the Gaza Strip than they did comparative filmed reports from Israel.

Another interesting aspect of BBC coverage is to be found in the wording of the headlines used to present reports. The most frequently appearing wording for headlines included the categorization of their topic as the “Gaza conflict” (85 reports) with that term being employed from day one of the hostilities. The categorization “Gaza crisis” first appeared on the conflict’s fourth day and was to be found in 38 headlines. Day two of the conflict saw the appearance of the term “Middle East crisis” and that description was used in the titles to twenty reports. Headlines reflecting the fact that the conflict was also taking place in Israel – using the terms “Israel-Gaza conflict”, “Israel-Gaza crisis” or “Gaza –Israel” – appeared in only 22 reports in total.

Thus, as we see, both in the signposting to audiences by means of headline composition and in the proportion of filmed reports from the Gaza Strip compared to those depicting the situation in Israel, the BBC’s presentation of the conflict was heavily tipped towards focus on its effects upon the civilian population of the in the Gaza Strip, indicating that the corporation’s claims of “equal coverage” and “fair balance”of the two sides of the conflict do not stand up to scrutiny.

Related articles:

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part one

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part two

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part three

BBC News website coverage of Operation Protective Edge: part four

BBC WS ‘Newshour’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’

The BBC’s pictorial portrayal of conflict in Israel and the Gaza Strip

‘From Our Own Correspondent’: a test case for BBC claims of ‘equal coverage’