Will ex-BBC Gunness tell the Frontline Club how he got a BBC article rewritten?

On July 29th the Frontline Club in London will hold the event described below.

frontline club event 1

So who is scheduled to be on that “panel of journalists”? At the moment it appears to consist of two people.

frontline club event 2

Readers considering attending the event and seeking advance insight into what they might hear from the generously portrayed Mr Blumenthal can find information collated by our colleagues at UK Media Watch here and at CAMERA here. A particularly useful research paper on Blumenthal’s book ‘Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel’ by Petra Marquardt-Bigman can be found here.

Those participating in the event might of course take the opportunity to ask Chris Gunness about his apparent role in instigating the politically motivated rewrite of the August 8th 2014 BBC article titled “Caution needed with Gaza casualty figures“. Licence fee payers in the audience and further afield would, after all, probably be very interested to learn about the potential for outside influence on BBC editorial decisions. 

The event will also be available live on the Frontline Club’s Youtube channel.

Related Articles:

BBC College of Journalism “associations”

An upcoming event with the BBC’s Middle East editor

On September 3rd the Frontline Club – with which the BBC frequently collaborates – will be hosting an event titled “Reporting the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict – Emotion, Bias and Objectivity” which we are informed is already fully booked.

The topic of discussion is promoted as follows:

“The latest chapter in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has again highlighted the difficulties of covering this complex and deep-rooted conflict that provokes such a strong emotional response from the general public.

The BBC has faced accusation that it is not critical enough of Israel’s actions and that its reporting is one-sided, whereas Channel 4 News has been accused of crossing the line between journalism and campaigning. Is there a middle ground?

In the face of such devastation should we expect correspondents to offer an objective view devoid of emotion? If we encourage correspondents to show more emotion do we risk compromising the credibility and standard of journalism in this country?

Join us as we take a view of the coverage we have seen, talk to the journalists that have produced it and ask what we can learn.”

On the panel selected to provide answers to those questions are Jeremy ‘I see no human shields’ Bowen and Channel 4’s Jon Snow.Nelson

The discussion would doubtless be enhanced were Bowen  (along with his colleague Orla Guerin) to take the trouble to brush up beforehand on the topic of Hamas’ use of human shields and that policy’s role in causing so many of the civilian casualties which he graphically reported during his recent stint in the Gaza strip.

That, of course, is unlikely to happen but if any of our readers do intend to attend the event and would like to report on it afterwards, we would be interested in hearing from you.

In the meantime, what do readers think of the questions above? Is it really too much to ask journalists to report conflicts objectively and factually? Would we accept that other professions – say doctors or policemen – should have leeway to bend professional standards in light of emotionally difficult scenes or experiences? Is reporting based on journalists’ emotions of any value to the BBC’s funding public? Has the “credibility and standard of journalism” displayed by the BBC indeed been compromised by its coverage of the recent conflict and do readers identify any effects of the style and content of its coverage in broader society? Tell us in the comments below. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BBC’s Paul Danahar at the Frontline Club

As was mentioned in the comments on this thread, the former BBC Jerusalem Bureau chief Paul Danahar was at the Frontline Club in London on October 15th talking about his new book. 

Courtesy of the estimable Daphne Anson blog readers can now watch a video of Danahar’s talk, which was chaired by Sam Farah of the BBC Arabic Service. 

Both Daphne Anson and the contributor in our comments section who attended the talk noted being pleasantly surprised by Danahar’s comments on Israel. I personally would take issue with his claim that the focus of the Arab-Israeli conflict has shifted from being “about land” and “about borders” to “about God”. Whilst it may be easy to identify the religious inspirations of Salafists currently situated in the Sinai and Syria, as anyone familiar with the ideologies of Hamas, Hizballah and other organisations will be aware, border adjustments have never been the real issue behind their motivations.

I would also take issue with Danahar’s comparison between Israel and the surrounding countries with regard to women’s rights and their participation in society: the major point he ignores is that equal rights are protected under Israeli law and his description of Israel’s Orthodox community is painted with a homogenous and stereotypical brush which fails to distinguish nuances between different groups within that community.

In addition, the much-promoted myth of the Assad dynasty’s keeping the Syrian –Israeli border “kind of quiet” over the years neglects to take into account that the rule of thumb regarding that border has always been that when it was in the Syrian dictatorship’s interest for it to be quiet, it was – but when it wasn’t – it wasn’t. That myth also of course blurs the fact that Assad’s support for Hizballah and other terrorist organisations has to no small degree been based on a policy of ‘having your cake and eating it’: attacking Israel via a proxy in order to avoid direct retaliation.

Have a look at the video and tell us what you think in the comments below.

 

BBC College of Journalism “associations”

The BBC Academy’s College of Journalism was opened in 2005 in the wake of the Hutton Judicial Inquiry with the aim of providing “training for the entire BBC editorial staff”. Its website claims that it “focuses on best practice in core editorial skills, and offers an overview of specialist areas as well as legal and ethical issues”.

On that website one can find plenty of evidence of collaboration between the BBC College of Journalism and the Frontline Club in London, where events are frequently advertised as being “in association with the BBC College of Journalism” and BBC employees frequently appear. Whether or not that “association” has financial aspects is unclear. 

FLC 1

FLC 2

But not only mainstream media journalists appear at the Frontline Club. As the CST recently reminded us, some speakers with decidedly dubious connections are given a platform there too.

“Tonight [June 12th 2013], Ibrahim Hewitt (pro-Palestinian Islamist), David Hearst (senior Guardian writer) and Tim Llewellyn (ex-BBC Middle East correspondent), will be “critiquing the media’s approach to the Israel-Palestine conflict”. The venue is London journalist haunt, the Frontline Club. It will be chaired by Mark McDonald, a founder of Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.

Hewitt is central to this meeting. He is senior editor of Islamist news outfit, Middle East Monitor (MEMO) and runs Interpal, a pro-Palestinian charity. In 2010, CST stated that MEMO’s beliefs about “Zionist” control of media and politicians, made it “unsuitable for Labour MPs and senior Guardian personnel to work with”.”

As noted above, as well as being involved with MEMO, Ibrahim Hewitt is also a trustee of the Hamas-supporting ‘charity’ Interpal which is proscribed by the United States, Australia and Israel. He is seen in the picture below on the left, together with Essam Mustafa of Interpal, visiting Hamas PM Haniyeh in Gaza. 

“In July 2006, an investigation by BBC Panorama claimed that Interpal was providing funds to a number of charities in the  Palestinian territories that were affiliated with Hamas. Some of these charities were even run by senior Hamas members. The investigation uncovered video clips of young girls from the al Khalil al Rahman Girls’ Society, which had received money from Interpal. The children sang: “We all sacrifice ourselves for our country. We answer your call and make of our skulls a ladder to your glory, a ladder” … “Fasten your bomb belt, o would-be martyr and fill the square with blood so that we get back our homeland.” “

 So here’s a question for BBC licence fee payers: do they consider it appropriate for the BBC College of Journalism to maintain “associations” with an establishment which provides a platform (and even a MEMO organised book launch) for someone who belongs to what it knows itself to be a fundraiser for a terrorist organization