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Your comments on the reporting of the Middle East crisis

Peter van Dyk | 19:03 UK time, Tuesday, 25 July 2006

We had another busy programme today, you obviously have a lot to say about the reporting of crisis in the middle east. Here's are just some of the email messages, texts and comments we've received...

Pat in New Jersey
Everyone brings their own biases and baggage when watching network television. In the US, I turn to different channels to gain more perspectives. The war thus far has been presented in a balanced fashion with reporters on both sides of the line reporting about the human element in all of this.

Steven, Virginia, USA
I think BBC news coverage is mostly fair, but on the BBC website, on the Have your Say sections, the moderated discussions will publish very anti-Semitic comments such as "the bloody jews control America" or "it's in the Jews' nature to.." and my responses don't get published, which makes me think.

Jo, an American Jew.
Lebanon has disproportionately suffered but you would not know from the coverage in the US. I do trust the bbc more than the American news sources.. esp the guardian and the independent too. Americans really do not know. The NY Times showed the bombed train station in Haifa on the front page above the fold on the day they bombed civilian neighbourhoods in Beirut. The horror in Lebanon is not portrayed.

Madeleine in Somerset.
You cut off the man from hisbolah radio who was trying to tell you that israel started the fighting by kidnapping two hizbbola members that has not been reported. The BBC is seriously biased.

There seems to be no world news other than about Israel. How 4 million Jews can capture worlds media? Of course all western media are pro Israel. Have we heard from Lebanese spokesmen? No but lots of Israeli ministers and generals. .

Khaled from Bangladesh.
My friend, who lives in usa. When i said her that hundred of innocent people died in Lebanon. She was stunned ! what’s going on USA ?

That the journalist guests on your show have differing views of one another's reporting methods speaks for itself: THAT MEDIA IS BIASED & NONE ISN'T. Every human being, from the time he's able to think, is biased. Only the degree of bias differs. So let's be honest here - audiences go for media that broadcast their own biased views! Personally I prefer British - a people known collectively for their sense of fair play - and specifically, the BBC. Sure, it is biased - who isn't? - but it's biased IN MY FAVOUR in that we both root for the underdog;-)! Reason I've been a faithful listener since age 13:-)

Adib in USA
As a US citizen, I am absolutely sure that if the US public sees the victims and the children being slaughtered in Lebanon, there would be no War what so ever. US media is absolutely Biased against Israel.

Ona, a Nigerian in Holland
When i want news about the middle east i talk to my Arab and Jewish friends. Their perspective usually differs from what i hear on CNN or al-jazeera.

Jaguraga from the Gambia
I am proud of BBC for honesty and commitment in reporting. The American is proving the information to the citizens.

Even reporters are human beings so are biased, but bravo BBC and CNN you give us what I think is reality.Israel and Arabic media are too biased.

Tekla, Burbank, CA
Why are the lives of 400 Lebanese of greater news value than all of the Iraqi civilians being killed by Sunni and Shia and terrorists in Iraq?

Javad in London
Whenever i criticize Israel the Jewish people I know accuse me of being anti-Semitic. People in the western media have this in the back of their mind and are always careful about what they say about Israel. As for the arabs, well everybody is pretty free to say what they want. The israeli PR machine is almost as strong as its army.

Mike, London

Serena, St. Paul, MN, USA
As a former Journalism major in college and a Native American I quickly learned that if you do not trust the AP wire news feed than you are considered a "conspiracy theorist" and that is frowned upon. I do not trust American journalism anymore and when I want to know the truth I look to various sources....none of them American.

Emmanuel, Washington, D.C.
Listen to everyone, trust no one.

Ray in Brooklyn, New York
The general press hardly ever delves into the true causes of geopolitical events. This current crisis is the result of failed diplomacy by major powers. This is a proxy war, the war itself is not the issue, it's the relationships between Iraq, Iran, Syria and Palestine, and the U.S and of course, oil. Israel and Hezbollah are the pawns involved, they will be used until the parties are brought back to the bargaining table. These are the stories that should be reported, the behind the scenes interactions of these major actors, not the "sexy" stories of death and destruction. I do think that the BBC does a better Job than most on being impartial, and showing the whole story.

Oren, Montana, USA
The vast majority of the major news organizations are essentially one sided and guilty of insisting fear rather than simply reporting. However, the responsibility lies with the audience to get as diverse a perspective as possible. NPR, BBC, NY TImes online, and aljazeera are on my daily list and i still feel inadequately informed. Neither reporting nor listening are an easy job.

Saul in Toronto, Canada
We are so stupid. Of course everything is biased. We are all biased in some way or another. It's natural and it's human. But unlike most of the Arab states, we westerners can watch what we want, read what we want, listen to what we want, and surf what we want. After that, we decide for ourselves how we want to process the information - it's a great system. And don't forget - Israel's media is completely free - just like Britain and the US and Canada - all have a myriad of points of view.

Chilowa from Zambia
Yes the BBC & CNN can report but sometimes You are bias towards certain races

Elton, Liberia
I trust BBC reports but apparently in order to balance the news BBC is disproportionately focusing on impact on israel.

David, a Canadian living in Reigate, UK
It seems to me if there is a bias in BBC and media coverage it is a right wing, pro-Israel bias. I cannot count how many times Hamas and Hezbollah were referred to either by BBC presenters or by the Israeli/American propagandists being interviewed as 'terrrorists.' BBC presenters have clearly been complicit in allowing Israel and its US allies to set the agenda and control the language. Every time the Israelis use that term it should be challenged by the presenter/interviewer. BBC needs to get a comprehensive and critical perspective on Israel's occupation of Palestine and provide information--not US/Israeli propaganda!

William in Istanbul
How fortunate we all are to have the BBC - for decades before the "digital age" the world could rely on the World Service for an accurate, unbiased, and informed window on the world ........ now that we are in the global village with the current plurality of media available, we have choices unimaginable in the not-so-distance past. Serious reflection, however, must show most listeners - and viewers - that the BBC plays one of the most important roles in this plethora of international media.

Hein van Vliet, The Netherlands
Funny to hear about reporting about the Middle East. Did the BBC not have recently an internal report criticizing BBC-news for being biased and one-sided? I think that any carefull listener to BBC World Service will notice this for oneself. Can the BBC just refrain itself and stick to reporting without PERSONAL COMMENTS!

Bias is sometimes very subtle which is precisely why I think it is very dangerous. For instance the use of the word "disproportionate" illustrates a bias, however subtle, against Israel. While the term may have originated in the dialogue through the statement of some soveriegn state the repeated use of the term in the media only serves to perpetuate the bias of the state actors who are clearly acting in their own interest.

I've noticed that when people disagree with what they hear in the media they claim there is a bias leaning toward the opposition viewpoint. This isn't a problem in reporting, it's a problem in hearing things you'd rather not hear. But as Stephen Colbert quipped in the White House Press Corespondents dinner: "Facts have a liberal bias."

Gary in Memphis, Tennessee
How can we trust any medium that relies on commercial revenue for its existence? Sensationalism, controversy and desruction take priority over facts which, however dynamic, don't catch the imagination of a desensitised world.I choose the less of 2 evils: publicly funded broadcasting everytime. As an Englishman living in the United States for the last 3 years - I recognised the difference when I moved here after a lifetime of relying on the BBC to help me form my view of the world.


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