The June 23rd edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included an item (from 45:10 here) by the Jerusalem bureau’s Kevin Connolly on the topic of the Dead Sea.
As readers may recall, six days earlier Connolly had produced a long written report on the same topic for the BBC News website. In this audio report Connolly focused largely on the effects of the declining level of the Dead Sea on tourism in the area and his superficial portrayal of the reasons behind that process was as follows:
“The sea is dying because the countries of the Middle East are tapping into the waters of the River Jordan that once fed it.”
As far as this writer is aware, the River Jordan still flows into the Dead Sea.
Earlier, in his introduction to the report, presenter Julian Marshall had displayed an equally bizarre understanding of the geographical term ‘Middle East’:
“…for years there’s been a fear that the sea might live up to its name and die, as the countries of the Middle East drain the river system for precious drinking water.”
As was the case in his written report, Connolly refrained from providing his audience with more meaningful portrayal of the relevant issues of water agreements, irrigation practices, water recycling and water use efficiency. In what may perhaps be a first for the BBC, both of Connolly’s reports also ignored the topic of the influence of climate change on the River Jordan’s catchment area.
Connolly’s portrayal of the project intended to rehabilitate the Dead Sea was as follows in this audio report:
“A fix is possible: a grand scheme to build a pipeline across the desert from the Red Sea far to the south.”
In his earlier written report, Connolly had encouraged readers to view that project with scepticism:
“But the technical, financial and political difficulties are forbidding and the pipeline is unlikely to be built soon, if indeed at all.”
No such declarations were heard in this audio report – perhaps because just two days after Connolly published the above words, the Jordanian government announced that no fewer than seventeen international companies had made bids to carry out the work.