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Balance over time

Jerry Timmins | 09:13 UK time, Thursday, 19 April 2007

Last month I wrote on this blog about claims that BBC Arabic was "anti-Western". Thank you for all the comments - perhaps it's time for for me to chip in once more. Inevitably many of the responses were from people who do not listen to BBC Arabic nor see translations of it; so inevitably the debate developed into a broader discussion about whether the BBC is biased.

World Service logoPerhaps all judgments about this are bound to be relative to each person's experience and perspective. I know from personal experience that my colleagues inside this organisation put considerable effort and reflection in to trying to ensure that the output is impartial but - as some commenters point out - such assertions count for little.

Some questions might help.

Does the BBC have a proprietor defining an editorial line which journalists are expected to stick to?

No. Unlike many organisations the BBC has no such person. Instead it publishes its own guidelines so that the public can judge whether we abide by them or not.

When we say we try and be impartial - what do we mean?

We don’t mean that we never make mistakes. We are by no means perfect. Mistakes do get made and we are not always able to get access to every piece of information or every view but we strive hard to be accurate, balanced and fair - and audience research suggests that most people who use BBC services greatly appreciate those efforts.

Do you hear views you disagree with on the media you use?

I certainly hope so. Personally I hear all kinds of views on the BBC I do not agree with and hear interviews with all kinds of people I would prefer my children not to meet, including some contributions from those on published lists of "terrorists". I disagree with what some of these people say and if I hate what someone stands for that does not mean their views should not be heard; nor does it mean that I should not spend some time in trying to understand where they are coming from.

f Protestant or Catholic leaders had held to a view that "terrorists" should not be given opportunities to air their views publicly there would be no power sharing or reconciliation in Northern Ireland - and peace (which is surely what most people want) would remain elusive. Very few commenters suggested that views should be suppressed. Most are essentially discussing the concept of balance. That can be impossible to achieve within single reports, especially when one side has a more efficient press machine than another. However, it can be achieved over time. One thing that is very difficult in this is the sheer impact of a picture. If a bomb hits a civilian area and you see pictures of children dying - that is going to stay in the mind longer than a reasoned argument from a politician. Different people - depending on their own personal experience - will react very differently to the same piece of information.

An example: you see a picture of a policeman beating up a man in civilian clothes on the street of some foreign country. If you are British you might think immediately that a great offence is being committed. If you are from that country you might think the same thing. But if you are someone in that country who spends their lives constantly in fear for your safety on the streets from thugs and cronies in civilian clothes - you might well feel that someone in authority is on the street battling on your behalf. Your own experience can change or distort the meaning of something that at first appears quite straight forward.

I think what the BBC can and should continue to strive to do is report over time and in detail what is actually happening so that over time people are in a better position to make up their own minds about what is going on. It’s not our job to push a line or push a "BBC" point of view. It is our job to enable many others of very diverse views to air their own - as has been done here so you can make up your own minds.

When you listen to the BBC do you hear a consistent view pushed continuously?

I suggest that anyone - academic or not - would find that very hard to prove unless you quote only highly selectively - always ignoring anything that does not fit the case you are trying to prove. I do see some things on the BBC that make me wince as a piece of individual journalism. But I can quickly point to something else that counters the concern I have. And encouragingly I find my colleagues are open to criticism and indeed criticise my work - so we try and keep each other on our toes (and of course our audiences are constantly in contact!)

The point I am making is that impartiality is partly dependent on balance and it is not possible to internally balance every piece. If we waited to do that we would be very slow on stories and our credibility would diminish. That kind of balance is only achieved over time and if you are going to be as highly critical as Professor Frank Stewart was in the original attack which started this debate, you ought really to take a broader look at the output than I believe he has done.

But of course he is entitled to his view!


What annoys many of us - and rightly so - is the appallingly, poorly researched output that many News items include.

In the past 7 days one News24 reporter berated Rhodri Morgan when he said Labour might get a narrow majority in Wales - the reported opined that this wasn't very good, clearly unaware tha the electoral system was designed not to allow any one party to secure a majority.

Earlier this week another News24 reporter claimed Labour has led the Assembly since 2000 when they were in a coalition with the LibDems in the first term.

Only yesterday one BBC report stated "Classic sitcom Dad’s Army is to be revived on stage with its first major theatrical production."

That of course is only true if one ignores 1975/1976 West End musical adaptation.

  • 2.
  • At 01:32 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Peter Galbavy wrote:

The problem about bias, and the way people view it in the media, is related to how extreme a view either the publisher or the reader has. If a publisher is actually balanced when compared to the demographic of the society or culture they are publishing to, it is very easy for someone reading with extreme views to cry "foul!" and call for a more, in their view, balanced ouput where that balance is centred on their viewpoint. This is nothing new.

Where the BBC fails, in my own balanced view (add a pinch of sarcasm here), is that it's writers and editors labour under the delusion that they have full knowledge and expertise in the subject matter they report on. One area where I am certain that I have more experience and in-depth knowledge is in technology matters and I am constantly amazed by the shallow, inaccurate and what I like to refer to as "press-release-based" journalism in this area. If the BBC gets is this wrong in an area I am familiar with then what should I believe the BBC's accuracy and balance is like in those areas where I do not have the personal experience and knowledge ? Hmm.

It's about trust. If I find myself losing trust in the BBC in one area then I lose trust in all areas. I would think I am not alone.

I have been a listener of the BBC since I was eight years old in 1970. I had received a shortwave radio for Christmas and one of the first stations I heard was the BBC and RCI [Radio Canada International]. It was at a time when I felt lonely in Ohio [because of my Latin and Celtic Roots]. BBC has been with me in good times and bad [including the Hurricanes that visited us in Miami Florida in 2005]. I also signed the petition for Alan Johnson's release. For those who have a negative attitude of the BBC, my response is I like the BBC.

  • 4.
  • At 02:21 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

Its funny how everytime a editor does a blog claiming 'we are impartial' they are then flooded with proof of bias pointing out various articles. And they wait.

A month later they do another article saying 'we are impartial honest' and again fail to adress the previous blogs accusations.

Ok so how come the BBC has relentlessly pushed the following opinions in the last month:-

1. Smoking ban - BBC thinks its good.

2. Olympics - BBC thinks its a good thing.

3. The week the US had a surge of troops in Iraq creating relative peace - the BBC disagrees (with no basis for such a view) and instead fabricates a 'poll' full of loaded questions in order to attempt to reflect the BBC's view.

4. Jeremy vine this lunchtime talking about a church being turned in to a mosque - the BBC thinks its a good thing and brands the 900 people who complained to the council 'racists'.

The list goes on. The BBC is anti american anti israelies and shows a disproportionate number of pro muslim stories to any stories at all about other faiths.

The BBC constantly condemns Israel and the USA and ignores far worse acts but groups it likes ie: Hamas, Hezbollah etc.

I don't know why i'm bothering to comment afterall living with the BBC is a bit like living with the North Korean media, denial is king.

So keep denying it BBC afterall your sheltered by your ivory tower safe in the knowledge we are all forced to pay for you weather we like it or not whilst your tree hugging left wing colleagues assure you, you are impartial.

Peter Galbavy, I totally agree.

The recent BBC article on Google Checkout 'Google unveils UK payments system'

manages not to once mention the existence of the UK's own payment processor Nochex.

In fact poor old Nochex only returns two results for a search in BBC news items:

and a slightly better 7 across the whole BBC

versus pages worth of results for PayPal. Hardly a sign of impartiality or even specialist knowledge.

When the London Congestion Charge Zone expanded earlier this year they managed to write the two same opening paragraphs for the report as they wrote for the article announcing the start of the original scheme in 2003.

Recently a BBC report referred to Trevor Phillips as having Chair of the fictional Greater London Assembly despite linking to a BBC profile which gave the correct name for the body.

As you say, when errors are made in areas one knows well it does dent confidence in the reporting of subjects one has no particular knowledge of.

  • 6.
  • At 03:04 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Nick Miller wrote:

I agree with Sam wholeheartedly.

The BBC is a lying anti-semitic organisation bound to the delegitimisation of Israel. I have written several complaints regarding lies in your reporting (including one today regarding the number of Palestinian refugees who left Israel in '48 - printed number 4,000,000, actual number 700,000) and never received a response.

Similarly I have sent many postings to these blogs and never been printed.

Just too close to the truth I guess.

Release the Balen report, I'm sure you have spent hundreds of thousands of licence payers' money to keep it secret because it supports my view, but I'm willing to read it and discover I'm wrong, if you're willing to let me.

Disgusted as ever,

Nick Miller

And here's another example where some knowledge might be handy:

"A Sky spokesman...added that fears there would not be enough room for both providers in the market had not been realised."

Yes, but what's missing from the article is any mention of Sky's repeated attacks on the service and predictions that it would never amount to a major force in UK digital broadcasting.

  • 8.
  • At 04:14 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • David wrote:

Oh dear. In a piece on your supposed impartiality, you feel the need to put the word terrorist in scare quotes.

Point proven, I think.

  • 9.
  • At 06:13 AM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • John wrote:

I find it interesting that out of 50 comments on the previous editor's blog, Mr Timmins 'answers' four questions. Unfortunately none of these four questions were asked by any of the 50 comments, but by Mr Timmins himself. Most people, except spin-doctors and Mr Timmins, address the questions asked, rather than the questions they wish were asked. Again where is the Balen report?

  • 10.
  • At 04:02 PM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • j m deene wrote:

Fabulous! There is no bias at the BBC. Does this mean you'll now release the Balen Report?

Until the BBC releases it--and stops spending vast sums of money on trying to cover it up--you don't have a leg to stand on.

  • 11.
  • At 04:20 PM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • Richard Oundle wrote:
#8 Oh dear. In a piece on your supposed impartiality, you feel the need to put the word terrorist in scare quotes.

At least he didn't use insurgent!

  • 12.
  • At 04:45 PM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

If you're not biased then release the Balen report and stop using licence-payers' money to suppress it!

  • 13.
  • At 10:15 PM on 20 Apr 2007,
  • niconoclast wrote:

The BBC is fine for Guardian readers but for those of a Conservative persuasion it is a painful and infuriating experience to watch or listen to its political output.

To be told that BBC liberal bias is a figment of our imagination is merely to add insult to injury. I think if we can detect bias in newspapers we can equally detect it on television.

We choose to pay for whatever newspaper we read. Alas we have no such choice re the BBC. That is tyranny. An end to the BBC licence is the only solution. Its institutional liberal bias is beyond reform.

  • 14.
  • At 02:55 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • M wrote:

It is good to see that you are able to express your thoughts and opinions in some tangible form. Hopefully you will find some of the feedback useful and influential in forming editorial policy in the future.

Do you think the BBC as a whole would benefit if all senior staff actually expressed their opinions, thoughts and decisions directly, in some tangible form? (not through third parties such as newspapers)

  • 15.
  • At 05:36 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • Dom wrote:

Mr Timmins, you're living in cloud-cuckoo land. The BBC is constantly pushing particular agendas and offering shallow, selective and highly opinionated coverage. Let me mention just three subjects as examples - global warming; the social acceptance of homosexuality; Evolutionary theory misrepresented as fact. One view constantly pushed, a contrary view vilified if ever referred to. The BBC pushes a line as soon as write one. It's obvious. When I see your adverts about balanced and in-depth coverage etc I just laugh now. It's a joke.

There are a lot of things the BBC gets right. But there are a lot of things that are seriously wrong with the BBC too. I think you need to wake up to the fact that many people are, for various reasons, fed up with you and would be only too happy to see an end to the license fee. But just how seriously does the BBC reflect on why? Is it able? It seems rather to just shrug and steam on with business as usual. I suggest an air of conceit surrounds your organisation which prevents you being able to realistically assess your true character.

But if you are interested in improving, and there's an awful lot of room for improvement, a little less self-satisfaction and self-congratulation might be a good place to start.

  • 16.
  • At 08:05 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • Francis wrote:

However well the BBC tries to tell the truth of any event, incident happening, tragidy,war or peace, there will always be those, who will question, any part of it, as their existing,views ,background,race, colour,religion,culture,language and circumstances affect their lives.
Nevertheless, unless we can all make a better effort to bridge or many differences there is mot much hope for our world!!
BBC you are unique so go on doing your good work, and that is why brave reporters like alan must be supported until we have the outcome we demand.

Francis (85 years. Veteren 1939-1945 war)

  • 17.
  • At 10:03 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • Rich wrote:

The day that the BBC seeks commentary from Marilyn Wann, Paul Campos, NAAFA etc during an item on the 'obesity epidemic', or even acknowledges the existence of research which contradicts the accepted wisdom on this topic (there's plenty out there if you could be bothered to look) is the day you will regain some credibility in my eyes.

Until then I will continue to look to other sources (mainly blogs) for objective comment on this and other social policy issues which don't seem to be subject to the same standards of impartiality and balance as your party political coverage.

I believe others have made similar comments regarding the BBC coverage of the man-made climate change issue. Maybe it's time to start listening?

The BBC is in the perfect position to cover what may be considered non-mainstream or minority viewpoints without offending sponsors or risking the loss of advertising revenue. I doubt even New Labour would be brave enough to abolish the license fee, even if it considered the BBC wasn't espousing its ideology with sufficient fervour...

  • 18.
  • At 12:07 AM on 22 Apr 2007,
  • Devon wrote:

I am as digusted as Sam and Nick Miller with the continued bias of the BBC and its inability to realise that it produces reports tainted with a left wing bias, and an anti American and anti Isreali stance. The reporting is also so pro Islam I find it disgusting. In fact, as someone who contributes to the BBC via the poll tax every British person is subjected to fund the BBC's continued existance, I think its continued censoring of right wing views is not only disgusting, but will eventually lead to the end of the BBC's right to state funding. The BBC in my opinion has faced increasing criticism of its bias and yet has done nothing. In fact the BBC has only been consistent in its continued belief that it is not biased and has thus consitenly ignored those who complain. I firmly believe that unless the BBC recognise its liberal left wing bias, that the BBC will not exist in its current format in 10 years time. Remember, no one would complain about the BBC if the bias didn't exist. That we compain is evidence that the bias does exist, and yet the BBC fail continously fail to admit to it. Why don't you release the Balen report? Because it is evidence of blatant bias. It's time for the BBC to admit to their failings, time to admit to the left wing liberal agenda, and time to admit that they should stop hiring from the Guardian, which does not help the reputation of the organisation.

  • 19.
  • At 08:05 AM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • George wrote:

You do appear very bias on smoking.

I wrote expressing real questions:

1. Cancer rates have paralleled above ground nuclear testing and chemical production of toxins, yet second hand smoke is now said to cause these and many other effects.

2. Birth weights and the health of newborns is now blamed on second hand smoke, yet the baby boom generation when smoking was very common and second hand smoke universal had good birth weights and infant health.

3. Social engineering psychological operations are a very real part of the uses of our government today, which this appears to be very much a part of, yet you do not question this.

4. Personally, my own family is long lived, and all the 90 and 100 plus great grand parents, great uncles, and so forth used tobacco. Were they each an exception?

5. If the wild claims of second hand smoke effects were true, why were prior generations not wiped from the face of the earth as claimed today. In other words, why are there people today if second hand smoke is as harmful as stated now.

It does not wash.

Social engineering today with psyops appears to be substituting causes, effects, threats, and actual motives behind the smoking bans and hysteria.

I question the motivations behind this as well as the techniques used.

  • 20.
  • At 12:09 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • JG wrote:

You commissioned a report into your impartially. WHY NOT RELEASE IT IF YOU HAVE NOTHING TO HIDE?

  • 21.
  • At 02:29 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Gonk wrote:

Stop talking about it and do something.

Anybody who cares about this issue (which should be everybody) is surely bored to tears with the BBC flatly refusing to accept they have a problem.

Since all the editors and BBC bosses have a vested interest why should we believe them or trust them to do the right thing? Because they have integrity? All that means is they are committed to reporting the world as they see it with priority to those issues which they feel are important (environmental issues, multiculturalism etc. - we all know the list)

Just out of interest I wonder what paper Jerry Timmins takes? I'll bet it isn't the Telegraph.

Be honest Jerry.

  • 22.
  • At 02:52 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • John Gammon wrote:

When you listen to the BBC you do hear "a consistent view pushed continuously" and to me this SHOULD be the case. It is a humanist, inclusive, broadminded, understanding, compassionate view that underpins the BBC's motto, "Nations shall speak peace unto nation".

It's certainly true that it's not always possible to be balanced within a story, just balanced over a period of time, but it ought to be remembered that it's not the BBC's job to be neutral, just exercise as much due impartiality as is possible. If the BBC is publicising an injustice it should not feel it has to give equal time to the perpetrators, just the opportunity to put their side of the story.

  • 23.
  • At 04:30 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Sam wrote:

John Gammon #9

i see they chose to publish your comment rather than my own which pointed out a issue of bias only today (regarding St George).

It is imperitive the BBC is 100% neutraL 100% unbias 100% of the time. Anything less i consider theft of my license fee.

If the BBC does not inform facts in a balanced way to the people of this country no matter what there politcal standpoint then those people are unable to make a informed choice whilst voting in an election.

So either the BBC admits it is bias and lets us know what it plans to do about it or the BBC should be commercialised. Of course John as you think the BBC is so wonderful it would survive such a change would it not? If it doesn't then it doesn't deserve to be here in the first place.

Alas i suspect like my last comment the BBC will ignore this one.

But to reiterate my previous point however today 86% of people in the BBC poll said yes St George should be celebrated. In the article the sample taken from 'have your say' said the opposite. Clear bias.

Having recieved my complaint and my comment here among the probably thousands of others the BBC amended the article with no explanation. Another cover up of clear unjustifyable editorial bias.

  • 24.
  • At 06:22 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Dom wrote:

The BBC would not know how to be impartial if its license fee depended on it. It is constantly pushing particular agendas, i.e. man made global warming, social acceptance of homosexuality, Evolutionary theory presented as fact, to name but a few items in the BBC agenda. As a news organisation you do not even acknowledge the existence of contrary views, let alone consider giving them any air time.

It may be based in Humanism, as one commentator observes above, but that is not necessarily a good thing if he means, as I guess he does, Atheistic Humanism; for, another such self-absorbed, conceited, hypocritical, menacing philosophy you would be hard pushed to find.

(Don’t be neutral, just impartial? Waffly Humanist double-speak as usual)

It is either deluded or disingenuous of the BBC to pretend to be impartial. It is blatantly obviously not. So why pretend it is? It merely undermines your intellectual credibility to even suggest such a thing.

  • 25.
  • At 07:24 PM on 23 Apr 2007,
  • Alan Wright wrote:

Interesting article - but I also have to smile at the comments.

I believe that that BBC does a good job in trying to be unbiased - the problem is that everyone has their own opinion of whats 'biased'. A balanced view - as best as they can but not everyone wants to be interviewed or you get more people from one side (you can have 3 different correct definitions of 'average' for instance - which is correct the mean, mode or median?).

For myself, I've found that the BBC has the best reporting that I can find and the website is my first port of call for news stories. Some of my none uk friends use the BBC website as they get better and more accurate information that their 'own' media.

Martin - in your 3.03 post about Nochex search for news stories. Did you also check other sites for news articles about Nochex? Interesting if you did actually do that or would I be biased on asking you that? interesting if you try that - a web search can only find whats there, if its not there then it can't be found.

Anyway, if you think the BBC is biased then don't bother reading the site and complaining all the time. If you don't like it then don't read, the viewers will go down on the various BBC channels and the page views will go down on the website. That way would prove the BBC is 'not good for the UK' and the license fee would be undefendable.

For myself, I shall continue using the BBC website and News 24 channel and paying the license fee without worry (as I believe its good value even though it can be tough to pay).

Even during my holiday which I'm returning from in a few days (visiting a friend in Pacifica, USA) I've kept an eye on the BBC website so I'm not in the dark news wise as I know its reliable.

Come on people - hindsight is 100%, no one is perfect but the BBC does a better job than anyone else I can think of.

  • 26.
  • At 02:17 PM on 24 Apr 2007,
  • J N Deene wrote:

If the BBC's reportage is value-free and neutral, why not release the Balen Report and prove us all wrong. Instead the BBC is spending tens of thousands of pounds on covering it up. I'm afraid you don't have a leg to stand on until this is released.

"#10 "Anyway, if you think the BBC is biased then don't bother reading the site and complaining all the time."

I don't agree: the BBC strives to be bias-free and when I talk to BBC editors or reporters, I'm always very impressed at how hard they strive to do this. Pointing out errors might correct a biased slant. Many people--myself included--begrudge paying the licence fee because of its political slant. Indeed, the BBC has acknowledged its views don't reflect the wider society. Even if you stop using this site and other BBC products, you still have to pay for it through taxation and the licence fee.

This renders your suggested boycott meaningless.

#8 "Oh dear. In a piece on your supposed impartiality, you feel the need to put the word terrorist in scare quotes."

At least he didn't use 'insurgent' or 'militant'. The BBC considers the term 'terrorist' a value statement so it uses the supposed value-free 'insurgent' or 'militant'. Sadly, even these are value statements--not because of what the words say--but because what they don't say.
For example, describing the 7/7 bombers as 'insurgents' and not as terrorists is a value statement, and the same applies in Iraq. The BBC hasn't realised that.

I'd suggest the quotation marks around the word terrorist is just mischief-making on his part to irritate the "uncouth", "backwards", "racist", "uneducated", "right-wing", "Daily Mail-reading" people that pay his salary. Us, in other words.

  • 27.
  • At 09:12 PM on 24 Apr 2007,
  • D Mile wrote:

Alan Wright

You say if we think the BBC is biased - we should not read its website, or watch its programmes. The problem is that we have no choice but to pay for this service. And if we don't like that service, we should not by law be foreced to pay for it. Therefore we are fully within our rights to complain at the BBC if we think it is not representing our views fairly.

I think my reason for thinking that the BBC is biased is they attempt to be too fair, and they tolerate the views of someone who is clearly part of the moonbat left, and it drives me up the wall. In fact I tend to find the BBC has a slight tendency to favour people from the left (moderate to moonbat, particularly the liberal left as oppossed to the conservative right) and give short shrift to the views of those on the right.

Take the Iraq war - it's always painted by the BBC as America's fault. Yet what is happeneing now is Muslim on Muslim, yet the BBC won't say it. Likewise, in Somalia, a female BBC correspondent fleed with her family to Kenya, and in her report it was all Ethiopia's fault, and there was no mention of the Islamic Court 'insurgents' who are the ones clearly starting the fights (if they weren't no one would get killed). This bias drives me nuts.

Finally Have Your Say continously drives me crazy. The moderators have a penchant for censoring conservative views in favour of liberal views or anti-American views. It makes us British people look anti-American to those American visitors to the boards when many of us English are not anti-American at all. I really think some solution has to be found for those boards to make them appear fairer and more balanced, as they are not at the moment, despite what the BBC may think.

I hope the BBC can find an unbiased pathway. But I do think that the BBC should not tolerate the views of extreme people, or people who are clearly wrong in their opinion. In this day and age of information, uneducated people will take equivacal soundbites or propaganda and think it true, and maybe act on the false information or muddled thinking. The BBC has to tell the truth with no left or right spin. Then it is, in my opinion, fulfilling its job.

So in summary, work needs to be done, but it's not terminal... Yet.

  • 28.
  • At 02:12 AM on 08 Jul 2007,
  • SteveS wrote:


I'm glad you've acknowledged this issue, and I'm sorry I've only just come across this page.

Like many British people, I grew up thinking the BBC was an infallible repository of truth and knowledge, and I would like to be able to easily hold this view now. I listen to virtually no radio besides Radio 4, and I think Newsnight is usually excellent. Unfortunately, it appears to me most of the rest of your news reporting has become distorted and unreliable.

In your 'Questions' section at the top of this page you mention the difficulty of achieving balance, and refer to '...the sheer impact of a picture. If a bomb hits a civilian area and you see pictures of a child dying - that is going to stay in the mind longer than a reasoned argument from a politician'. This illustrates exactly how vital it is that a world-famous broadcaster such as the BBC exercises wisdom and consideration in its reporting. Reality is the images which are reported. When, for example, the BBC uncritically reports that Israeli bombing has killed 54 civilians under the headline 'Qana bombs an Israeli "war crime"' (, this has a massive and fundamental emotional impact on everyone who sees it, and becomes - on a deep, emotional level - the 'truth' of what has happened. In this particular case, the BBC even admitted later that less than half this number died, but amendments or apologies after the fact carry only a small fraction of the weight of the initial impact. This, alongside the fact that the report itself is at best lazy and hasty, and at worst the result of collusion by reporters in a deliberate misrepresentation of what happened. ( - yes, I'm sure very easy to dismiss as another right-wing conspiracy site, but I would be interested to see some genuine attempts to answer the points this in-depth and thorough report raises.

Another example, from Israel's war with Hizbollah last year, analysed here: - events such as this create the world in the viewers' minds, and viewers - through their actions - then reshape the world according to what they believe has happened, but again, this report shows that the reported story was false. The real world was changed - pressure on Israel was so great it brought about a ceasefire - as the result of a reality which existed only inside the stories propagated by the media. Widespread reporting of stories such as these literally shape reality. Admitting that you 'make mistakes' is not sufficient excuse. I feel you utterly underestimate your responsibility and influence if you can give such a response in the light of such instances.

You also state that anyone seeking to claim that such distortion is 'consistent' would 'find that very hard to prove unless [quoting] only highly selectively'. Unfortunately, anti-Israeli bias does seem to be endemic in BBC reporting. I would also suggest that in the last few years the BBC has adopted an approach that - perhaps for admirable motives - seeks to minimise any negative media portrayal of Muslims and Islam generally. As in the concerted assertions on the weekend of the failed car-bomb attacks in London and Glasgow (,
) that the bombers were not British - a week later proved false, and the avoidance of any references to the fact that they were Muslim, also in the reporting of Mohammed Sarwar standing down as MP for Glasgow Govan in June this year (, which from the spin in the BBC's report appears to be the result of threats from racist neo-Nazis, rather than, as it was in reality, from death-threats from Muslim gang-members.

I could site further examples of this approach, and I really don't feel I would have to be selective to do so. Whether this is the consequence of the BBC appeasing the government in the wake of Andrew Gilligan and the Hutton report, or if the Corporation is acting of its own volition, I don't think it is acceptable for a respected authority such as the BBC to allow such bias to characterise its reporting - and shaping - of reality.

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