A service announcement for BBC Monitoring

Please excuse us for a moment whilst we issue a service announcement to the BBC department which, according to its own blurb, “observes, understands and explains media throughout the world, providing an accessible and relevant account for you to make better, more informed decisions” and also claims that:

“We are who you come to for a level of insight others cannot provide. The combination of our expertise, ability to identify relevant sources, our regional knowledge and presence on the ground ensures we deliver the most unrivalled insight into world media.”

So, BBC Monitoring: FYI –

This is a porcupine (local variety: Hystrix indica), which in Hebrew is דרבן  (Durban) and it is of course a rodent.

SONY DSC
Porcupine at ‘Bio Ramon’ park, Mitzpe Ramon

This, however, is a hedgehog – in Hebrew קיפוד (Kipod) – with the variety found in the Middle East being Erinaceus concolor – and it is not a rodent.

קובץ:Erinaceus concolor - D7-10-3855.JPG
Erinaceus concolor (photo credit: Wikipedia)

By now readers are probably asking why BBC Monitoring is in need of help with the identification of Middle Eastern wildlife. Well on January 6th somebody at the BBC News website apparently decided that its Middle East page would not be complete without an article in the ‘Features and Analysis’ section concerning the earth-shattering revelation that someone in Israel made a spoof video about John Kerry.

BBC monitoring art Kerry spoof ME pge

BBC Monitoring art Kerry spoof

The article – compiled by BBC Monitoring – states:

“A video shows a Hebrew-speaking ‘Kerry’ offering a man stuck on the toilet without paper to use a porcupine instead. “Wipe, don’t gripe”, Kerry tells him. After the “porcu-shine” incident, the advice goes from bad to worse, and the man ends up unemployed and begging in the street.”

BBC Monitoring apparently got that information from the Times of Israel – to which it links in its own story. The Times of Israel wrongly identified the animal in the Hebrew language video as a porcupine although it is clearly a hedgehog and is described as such. In addition the words “wipe, don’t gripe” – as quoted by BBC Monitoring – do not appear in the video. 

Kerry vid kipod

Of course the wider point of this little story is not only that (like the rest of us) BBC Monitoring shouldn’t believe everything it reads in the papers, but also that facts need to be checked before information is regurgitated to BBC audiences – preferably by the fluent Hebrew speaker BBC Monitoring apparently does not yet have on its staff. 

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