Comparing BBC Trending’s reporting on sexist abuse and anti-Jewish abuse

On February 17th the BBC News website published a report by BBC Trending titled “10 Hours of Walking in Paris as a Jew“.Trending 10 hrs Paris

The report relates to a video made by a reporter for the Israeli news website NRG who walked around the streets of Paris in identifiably Jewish dress, documenting the abuse from passers-by. Readers can find the English version of Zvika Klein’s article here (with links to Hebrew and French versions at the bottom) and the video here.

The BBC’s account of the video is as follows:

“Klein’s version takes place in the French capital. In the film he dons a kippah – the traditional Jewish skullcap – in front of the Eiffel Tower, and wanders the streets of the city. He appears to face significant abuse as he walks around. Residents are seen staring and spitting at him, while others apparently shout “Jew” and “Viva Palestine”.” 

As can be seen in Klein’s article at the above link, BBC Trending has refrained from reporting the more offensive comments.

So what did BBC Trending find it imperative to communicate to audiences about the video and the experiment in general?

“He appears to face significant abuse as he walks around.”

“It’s impossible for us to verify Klein’s video…”

” …there has been a large amount of editing – which critics say conveys a false impression”

“Could he be accused of deliberately seeking out negative comments?” 

“So are Jewish people confronted with this kind of abuse throughout the city? No, not everywhere, Klein tells BBC Trending.”

“With an apparently anti-Semitic murder among two killings in Copenhagen this weekend, and last month’s Paris attacks including four murders at a Kosher supermarket, some Jews in Europe are feeling vulnerable.”

“…Muslims and other minorities in the city can face similar problems.” [all emphasis added]

As the BBC article correctly points out, the inspiration for Zvika Klein’s report came from a video made by a woman who documented sexist abuse whilst walking in New York. BBC Trending also covered that video at the time of its release in an article titled “The video that shows what street harassment is like“.

Notably however, in that report the BBC did not inform audiences that it could not verify the video. Neither was it deemed necessary to tell readers that Shoshana Roberts ‘appears’ to face abuse or to suggest that “a false impression” had been created by editing. BBC Trending did not imply that Roberts was “deliberately seeking out negative comments” and the issues of whether or not women experienced sexist abuse in all districts of New York or whether other groups “face similar problems” were not raised.

Shoshana Roberts’ video was also covered sympathetically at the time by ‘Newsbeat’ – the BBC’s news platform aimed at younger audiences.

So perhaps BBC Trending would like to explain to its funding public the very obvious differences between its reporting on a video showing sexist abuse and its approach to a similar film showing anti-Jewish abuse? Having answered that question, BBC Trending may then be better placed to review its use of the phrase “apparently anti-Semitic murder” to describe the pre-meditated shooting of a volunteer community guard at a synagogue.

Related Articles:

Channel 4 News: Is walking in Muslim areas of Paris with a kippah a provocation?  (CiF Watch)


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