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To Helen Boaden, BBC, re moves to indict Israeli leaders

 
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johnwhilley



Joined: 03 Oct 2004
Posts: 724
Location: Glasgow

Post Post subject: To Helen Boaden, BBC, re moves to indict Israeli leaders Reply with quote

Dear Helen Boaden,

The Arab League has just made a key request to the United Nations for a full investigation of Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=83824&sectionid=351020202

This follows similar calls from aid agencies and moves by human right lawyers to bring Israel's top fifteen leaders before the International Criminal Court.

http://www.redress.cc/global/hokok20090126

Israel has, in turn, set up a special legal team to deal with the threat of arrests and the problems these people could face if travelling abroad.

Do you believe this story merits coverage on the BBC's main news programmes? If so, why haven't we seen it?

John Hilley
Tue Jan 27, 2009 2:19 pm
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johnwhilley



Joined: 03 Oct 2004
Posts: 724
Location: Glasgow

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Reply from the BBC and further letter.

John

----------
Quote:
BBC News [T2009012806WGS010Z5162736]
Thursday, 5 February, 2009

Dear Mr Hilley

Thanks for your e-mail regarding a story which you believe should be on the BBC News.

I understand that you feel that a story should be covered on how you feel the Arab League making a key request to the United Nations for a full investigation of Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

The choice of news stories to report in our programmes is frequently very difficult. We're more than aware that a report of great interest to one sector of our audience may be of little interest to another. Our audiences don't look at events in the same way, and there's no one universal news agenda that applies to all. That's why we broadcast in many different styles and why a story given prominence in the UK may not even be mentioned by our international channels.

The time given to each issue or report in the news has much to do with whether it's news that has just come in and needs immediate coverage, how unusual it is and how much national interest there is in the subject matter. The choice has to be selective and no matter how carefully such decisions are made, news editors are always aware that some people may disagree with them.

If you think that the story is newsworthy you may like to submit it yourself, you can contact the following BBC Department with any potential news stories you may have. The address is:

BBC News Gathering
Room 401
Bush House
PO Box76
WC2B 4PH

Home news: uknewsplan@bbc.co.uk
Foreign news: worldnewsplan@bbc.co.uk

Please be assured also that I've registered your complaint on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

The audience logs are seen as important documents that can help shape decisions about future programming and content.

Thanks once again for taking the time to contact us.

Regards

Claire Jordan
BBC Complaints


Dear Claire Jordan,

Thanks for replying to my letter.

Allow me to unpick some of your statements.
Quote:
“The choice of news stories to report in our programmes is frequently very difficult.”

No one suggests that it's easy. The key point concerns the BBC's own institutional leanings and shared understanding of which news choices to make and how to present it.
Quote:
“We're more than aware that a report of great interest to one sector of our audience may be of little interest to another.”

That's just a statement of the very obvious. That there's a diversity of interest or views across the audience base should in no way excuse the BBC from airing a key, current story on the potential indictment of Israeli leaders.
Quote:

“Our audiences don't look at events in the same way, and there's no one universal news agenda that applies to all.”

Again, differing perspectives should not preclude actual coverage of the story. And what does “no one universal news agenda” tell us, other than that the BBC is using the 'broad range of feeling' excuse to side-step a significant news story?
Quote:

“That's why we broadcast in many different styles and why a story given prominence in the UK may not even be mentioned by our international channels. ”

This, with respect, is a facile argument. The actual problem here is that a critical international story is not even making it into the BBC's UK news output. Why not?
Quote:
“The time given to each issue or report in the news has much to do with whether it's news that has just come in and needs immediate coverage, how unusual it is and how much national interest there is in the subject matter.”

Yes, I'm familiar with the 'fresh news' argument. It's a variation on the 'we didn't have space to cover it' line – particularly when it applies to Palestine or other issues deemed 'controversial' for the BBC and those it serves. The level of “national interest” may, of course, be increased by actual coverage of the story by the BBC. Or perhaps the BBC has now dropped any idea of its duty to inform the public on such matters.
Quote:
“The choice has to be selective and no matter how carefully such decisions are made, news editors are always aware that some people may disagree with them.”

The choice is, indeed, selective. The BBC selects in ways which help keep criticism of selective states - the UK, US and Israel – to a respectable minimum.

As widespread criticism of the BBC's DEC Appeal decision shows, the BBC's institutional bias is now becoming evident to a more discerning public

The potential prosecution of Israel's political and military hierarchy is a major story. It's immediate news relevance, as if you didn't know, comes on top of the slaughter that's just taken place in Gaza. Are we to assume that public interest in prosecuting the perpetrators of those war crimes – as described by almost every major international aid body – is somehow secondary to the actual killing that's taken place? Is the story of concerted efforts to bring these people to justice peripheral to the conflict? That seems to me to be a very selective and partial judgement to make.

I will use the news gathering links noted to request coverage of this important issue. I'm always interested in highlighting the latest BBC excuses for not airing stories critical of Israel.

Yours sincerely,
John Hilley
Thu Feb 05, 2009 4:29 pm
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johnwhilley



Joined: 03 Oct 2004
Posts: 724
Location: Glasgow

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

A further exchange with Stewart McCullough.

---------------

Dear Mr Hilley

Thank you for contacting us again and I'm sorry for the delay in getting
back to you. 

You right to take issue with the response you received as it does seem to have missed the point you made somewhat and I wanted to address that if I may. 

The BBC did actually covered calls by various groups for Israel to be prosecuted for war crimes - this should have been pointed out in the reply you received previously.

Here's just one example from our website:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7896372.stm

You may also have seen the recent edition of Panorama - Gaza: Out of the Ruins which also looked at similar issues and concerns about Israel's actions:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/panorama/hi/front_page/newsid_7878000/7878752.stm

Yours sincerely

Stewart McCullough
Complaints Coordinator
BBC Complaints

www.bbc.co.uk/complaints

Dear Mr McCullough,

Thanks for your response and acknowledgement that my enquiry had not been adequately addressed.

Unfortunately, this letter does little to redress the problem.

Let me restate my original question:
Quote:

The Arab League has just made a key request to the United Nations for a full investigation of Israeli war crimes in Gaza.

http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=83824&sectionid=351020202

This follows similar calls from aid agencies and moves by human right lawyers to bring Israel's top fifteen leaders before the International Criminal Court.

http://www.redress.cc/global/hokok20090126

Israel has, in turn, set up a special legal team to deal with the threat of arrests and the problems these people could face if travelling abroad. Do you believe this story merits coverage on the BBC's main news programmes? If so, why haven't we seen it?

As stated, my principal point was about the actions of leading organisations in seeking indictments against Israel's top fifteen leaders and the legal implications for such people travelling abroad. In light of the massive evidence of Israeli war crimes in Gaza, why has the BBC failed to highlight these efforts to bring those responsible to justice?

Again, I'd be grateful if you could point me to where this issue has been covered on any of the BBC's main news programmes – such as the Six O'Clock or Ten O'Clock news schedules.

Regards,

John Hilley
Thu Mar 26, 2009 9:34 am
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