BBC Newsround apologise for ‘inaccurate’ Gaza film


10:20 am - December 10th 2012

by Newswire    


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BBC Newsround has apologised to the London-based Council for Arab-British Understanding (Caabu) after it submitted a complaint highlighting severe factual inaccuracies in a video report broadcast on 21 November.

The video report has now been edited.

Caabu’s complaint stated:

The piece argues that in the 1948 war “Israel lost land to Egypt and Jordan.” This is inaccurate. In fact, by the end of the 1948 war Israel had expanded well beyond the borders set out in the United Nations partition plan of 1947. Under this plan, neither the West Bank or Gaza were ever in jurisdiction of the new Israeli state and so it is incorrect to say that Israel ‘lost’ this land.

The video says that in the war of 1967 Israel found itself “back in control” of the West Bank and Gaza. This is factually inaccurate, since Israel had never been in control of these areas.

The piece refers to “Muslim Palestinians”. This is factually inaccurate. It ignores the existence of many Christian and Jewish Palestinians who also inhabited the area of Palestine for many centuries.

In response, Owenna Griffiths, Editor of Newsround, responded with an apology.

Let me first respond to what I see as the key aspect of your complaint – the factual inaccuracy you described in your points 3 & 7 when we said in our report that “Israel lost land to Egypt and Jordan.”

This was a factual mistake for which we apologise.

Our report has now been amended. Similarly, we have altered the piece with reference to point 7 so that it says “In 1967 another war left Israel in control of Gaza and the West Bank. To this day Israel remains in control of the West Bank. And although they left Gaza in 2005, they still remain in control of who and what goes in and out.”

On reflection we have also altered the original phrase ‘Muslim Palestinians’ to ‘Palestinian Arabs’ (your point 2).

Caabu said they were grateful for the response and acknowledgement that there were factual inaccuracies, which have now been corrected.

Read the original complaint in full here.
Read the BBC response in full here.

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Reader comments


This is astonishing.

Has Mark Regev taken to attending Newsround editorial meetings? Was this the arrangement Mark Thompson (ex-DG, now of the NYT) acceded to when he was summoned to Israel by Ariel Sharon?

The question has to be asked, how did Newsround end up constructing this narrative? Far more important than an apology, given Newsround is aimed at children.

Michael Gove should be pushed to make enquiries, our children need education not brainwashing.

This wasn’t sloppiness or anything like it. It was an ideological decision taken by the producers of Newsround, to run a piece of propaganda in the hope that no one would question it.

Shameful.

It is against a background of having many Arab and Jewish friends that I say I reckon these two small countries must hold the world record for media coverage. Probably as many words as there are grains of sand in their lands. Fascinating of course, but will they get an exaggerated opinion of their importance in our world? Or do they have it already? Do we wish to encourage that?

Yeah, the Palestinians never got their state in 1948 partly because Jordan and Egypt invaded and occupied land which belonged, according to the UN, to the Palestinians. I say “partly” because Israel also took more land than it was entitled to. But I’m not sure covering up the fact that neighbouring Arab states played their own part in screwing over the Palestinians is the evil Zionist propaganda some of you seem to think it is.

I’m not an expert, but 4 seems more plausible than 1 and 2…

@2. buddyhell: “This wasn’t sloppiness or anything like it. It was an ideological decision taken by the producers of Newsround, to run a piece of propaganda in the hope that no one would question it.”

Run for your tin foil helmet!

I agree completely with the complainant that the piece was inaccurate. When facts are wrong, they are just wrong. But whilst it may be construed that a couple of writers tried to put an angle onto a story, and journalists are as human as most of us, I avoid conspiracy theory.

Cock up and incompetence determine how we live our lives. The N in SNAFU is for Normal.

In the example above, journalists and editors got it wrong. To identify the problems prior to broadcast, they only needed to show the clip to a couple of independently minded experts. They didn’t. Bluntly, they didn’t do their jobs properly.

Newsround has a viewership of, say, 300,000 children. The children have open minds but adults watching the programme have a bit more about them. To suggest that editors determined to sneak propaganda into children’s TV is too conspiratorial for me.

7. Churm Rincewind

@ 6 Charlieman: Hat tip to you.

8. Dick the Prick

@6 – yup, sounds about right. I wouldn’t be surprised if the producer had a jolly good evening before and cribbed Israel’s history in 10 minutes. It ain’t Newsnight but still, fail.

In my humble, this amount of incompetent reporting in what was supposed to be a factual documentary justifies some senior staff changes to restore confidence. If not, the reasons for retentions should be made public.

10. Chaise Guevara

@ 6 Charlieman

“The N in SNAFU is for Normal.”

I’m stealing that line. Stealing as in even if you object, I’m gonna use it. Way too good to be left in the hands of one individual.

But of course if the Arab nations had accepted the UN partition plan then Israel would have been smaller that it was after the first war was over. The Arab League declared war and soundly defeated.

This wasn’t sloppiness or anything like it. It was an ideological decision taken by the producers of Newsround, to run a piece of propaganda in the hope that no one would question it.

Cos if the story is about Israel there’s gotta be someone pulling the strings, eh?

The N in SNAFU is for Normal.

That really ought to be on a t-shirt!

13. So Much for Subtlety

2. buddyhell

This wasn’t sloppiness or anything like it. It was an ideological decision taken by the producers of Newsround, to run a piece of propaganda in the hope that no one would question it. Shameful.

Actually virtually all those mistakes look like the sort of mistakes the work experience intern would make. Not malicious but stupid and ill education.

Which, frankly, I find more objectionable than simple bias. Even the BBC can’t find people who know f**k all about anything. How many years of Comprehensive education are were celebrating now?


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