Why was a photo-shopped image ‘top story’ on the BBC News website ME page?

It is, to put it mildly, extremely rare for the BBC News website to cross-post reports from ‘Newsbeat’ – the division of BBC News catering for audiences between the ages of 15 and 24 – on its Middle East page.

Newsbeat HaMevaser story
click to enlarge

It is no less unusual for the BBC to cover the topic of the eccentricities of the niche Haredi press in Israel which, odd and objectionable as they may be even to the vast majority of Israelis, can hardly be said to constitute a major news story – especially as that sector makes no claim to provide objective journalism.

Nevertheless, on January 13th a second-hand Newsbeat report titled “Jewish newspaper removes women from photo of leaders” was billed as a ‘top story’ on the website’s Middle East page and at the time of writing has remained there for four consecutive days.

To be honest, there is not really much of a story at all in that ‘top story’, other than the fact that a small Haredi newspaper called HaMevaser clumsily photo-shopped Angela Merkel and other female dignitaries out of a photograph taken at the rally in Paris on January 11th.

So what was the editorial reasoning behind the promotion of this article on the BBC News website’s main Middle East page as a ‘top story’? It couldn’t possibly have been ‘we’ve run a lot of reports in the past few days about Muslims demanding censorship of images’ – could it?

One cannot but note the irony of a BBC report highlighting the censorship of a photograph by a fringe Israeli publication in a week in which much of the enlightened Western media has been censoring images and the BBC News website’s own reporting on the post-attack edition of Charlie Hebdo included warnings such as those below. 

CH warning 1

CH warning 2



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