Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Classic BBC: excuses, denial and closure

Remember the start of Israel's mass assult on Gaza one year ago (27 December)? Remember the ways in which the BBC helped misrepresent Cast Lead as a supposedly 'defensive' exercise? Rememer how they refused to allow a basic humanitarian appeal on behalf of suffering Gazans?

Well, as another valiant Viva Palestina convoy endeavours to deliver a little comfort to Gaza, here's a very timely reminder of the BBC bolting the door to news that blames and shames Israel.


Dear Tim Franks

Today's BBC Online report, "World 'failed Gaza over Israeli blockade' - aid groups" offers some useful, if still nominal, lines on the dire situation and failure of international responses.

But where is your reporting of the major UK aid convoy currently headed for Gaza? Surely this would have been an obvious place to inform readers about such an impressive humanitarian intervention.

Can you offer any credible explanation for this glaring omission?

Perhaps you could headline another piece on the general absence of such coverage with:

"BBC 'failed Gaza over reporting convoy efforts to break Israeli blockade' - Palestine support groups."

Wouldn't that be a truthful addition to your present article?


John Hilley



Thanks for your email. We had this news story, recently, on the internet

and there has also been some coverage on World Service radio.

As the convoy nears Gaza, we'd be happy to keep abreast of any developments.

Best wishes

Tim Franks


Thanks Tim

I had a look at the linked story - the word "nominal" again coming to mind.

I'd still like some explanation about the particular absence of the convoy story.

And why the need to await "developments" when the actual departure of the convoy and its aims should be a newsworthy item in its own right?

Perhaps you'd like to elaborate on the BBC's continued failure to cover the Viva Palestina project.

(As standard practice, I will post this and any further exchanges at the Media Lens message board.)

Best wishes




We receive a lot of requests to cover events managed by pressure groups and NGOs, often with the aim of highlighting some very important issues. It's up to us, then, to decide which we will cover in their own right, as part of another story, or not at all. We have, in the past, covered attempts to break the Israeli blockade. We are likely to do so again in the future. In the meantime, we frequently investigate the fundamental issue of conditions for Gazans in the territory across TV, radio and the internet. As I said before, we are happy to keep across developments with your convoy.

Best wishes


Dear Tim,

Thanks for getting back.

I'm afraid that "pressure group" defence won't really wash. The fact is that a very significant convoy is attempting, once again, to break the illegal blockade. You shouldn't need soliciting to think about whether to go out and cover it. It's news, and newsworthy in its own right.

Note also that the convoy marks Israel's murderous assault precisely one year on. There's an obvious context to 'hang' the story on.

You are entirely right, the un/reporting of such is your decision. And the decision not to cover it indicates very clearly the trusted subjective nature of your selective judgement. For it seems to fit very neatly with a wider BBC consensus on the non-reporting of Viva Palestina activity.

Can you explain why that is?

Also, what is meant by "your convoy"? This is a broadly-supported public and humanitarian effort to assist broken and demoralised people. Why portray it as the work of some narrow interest group? Would you describe Children in Need-type aid in such a way?

Best wishes




I'm sorry you weren't satisfied with my response. If you want to take the matter further, please do so through this link



Thanks Tim

As ever, the default silent sign-off.

Anyway, thanks for your replies - always helpful to keep on record as illustrations of BBC closure.

Best wishes.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

What exactly is it that you want, John? You seem to persist in a rather bullying manner in an attempt to get the answer you want to hear, regardless of whether it's the "truth" or otherwise.

Working in the media, I've had the opportunity to view similar extended correspondence to yours on many, many occasions. It seems to me that your addiction to writing e-mails and letters is getting in the way of you having any kind of perspective on the situation in the Middle East.

Looking to blame the BBC, trying to get the BBC to admit some kind of culpability in the reporting from the area, is overtaking any wish you have to help the people of Gaza, Lebanon etc etc.

I'd take a long hard look at your own blinkered bias before continuing down the path you're on. It's for your own good.