As we know, the BBC News management states that:
“Among the requests from both sides in the conflict is that we should more frequently recount its history in our daily journalism. We do not think daily news journalists have the time in their reports to go into such a level of detail, not least as there are two versions of the history. Instead, our strategy is to supplement our news coverage by providing detailed background on BBC News Online. It has the space to carry more information than broadcast news programmes, helping readers to understand the political, historical or economic background to an event. “
“A member of the audience who watches, listens and reads the full range of our output should be coherently and cogently informed about events in Israel and the occupied territories, and should better understand the complex forces that are at work.”
That claim, however, can only be said to hold water if the information provided by BBC News Online is accurate and up to date.
For example, an audience member searching for BBC-produced maps of the PA-controlled areas would come up with these results:
All three of the top results lead to a set of old maps still appearing on the BBC website (and also the Al Jazeera website), with the first result showing this:
The map on the right – titled “Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank” and based on information from the Palestinian National Authority dating from 2002 – was of course drawn up at the height of the second Intifada when the security situation was at one of its lowest points.
Since then, with the security situation having improved, and as a goodwill gesture to the PNA, the number of checkpoints and roadblocks has been reduced dramatically. Between 2008 and 2012, 75% of the checkpoints were removed. One of the more recent roadblocks to be opened was number 328 – just north of Jericho – on the road connecting that town to route 90.
Currently, in the whole of Judea & Samaria, there remain only ten active checkpoints which are normally open at all times.
Obviously then, the BBC’s map is both inaccurate and misleading. It continues to appear on the BBC website however without giving any warning to the reader that the information it contains is no longer valid and – rather than aiding BBC audiences to become “coherently and cogently informed” – in fact contributes to their confusion and misunderstanding.
So what do readers think? Should the BBC be obliged to remove out of date and inaccurate content from its website, particularly in light of the fact that it specifically directs audiences there with the claim that the site provides relevant background information which enhances the accuracy and impartiality of its news reports?