The egregious headline which appeared on the BBC News website on the evening of October 3rd following the murders of two Israelis and the wounding of two more by a Palestinian terrorist – “Palestinian shot dead after Jerusalem attack kills two” – has been the topic of broader media attention (see for example here, here, here and here) as well as the subject of official complaints lodged by the Government Press Office in Jerusalem and the Israeli embassy in London, which have in turn prompted further reports on the story.
“According to a GPO official, Israel expects an official apology from the network, and said the office was considering annulling the press cards of BBC journalists, a decision that if implemented would not allow the network to continue operating in Israel.”
The Israeli website NRG reported that an unofficial BBC response stated that:
“It seems to have been about […] the mistake of a junior editor at the desk ‘and not about a clear agenda’…..”
This of course would not be the first time that the BBC has used the ‘shin gimmel formula’ to deflect criticism concerning its failure to adhere to its own editorial guidelines on accuracy and impartiality. Similar strategies employed to divert criticism of the frequently seen failure to report terror attacks on Israeli civilians at all include the “very busy news period” and “smaller operation at the weekend” formulae.
Obviously, BBC editorial guidelines apply to all content produced by the corporation, regardless of whether the person manning the desk at the time happens to be a “junior” employee or not and it is worth recalling that the BBC’s guidelines on reporting War, Terror and Emergencies stress that:
“At such times, when there may be conflicting information and opinions, and with reliable information hard to come by, we need to be scrupulous in applying our principles of accuracy and impartiality.”
So if, perchance, the head of the BBC’s Jerusalem Bureau or his superiors would like to carry out a serious examination of the question of whether “a clear (political) agenda” might have played a role in the creation of that miserable headline, all he has to do is search the archives of this site – particularly under the tag ‘terrorism’.