Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred NGO contributors in 2015

As time goes by the mutually beneficial relationship between the traditional media and NGOs flourishes and expands and news consumers find that more and more of their news comes or is sourced from agenda-driven organisations which make no claim to provide unbiased information and are not committed to journalistic standards.

When political agendas and reporting meet, questions obviously arise concerning accuracy, impartiality and reliability. Whilst the BBC – like many other media organisations – has addressed the topic of ‘citizen journalists’ providing user-generated content (UGC), much less attention is given to content sourced from NGOs. Currently one of the few safeguards in place comes in the form of the section in the BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality which state:

“We should not automatically assume that contributors from other organisations (such as academics, journalists, researchers and representatives of charities) are unbiased and we may need to make it clear to the audience when contributors are associated with a particular viewpoint, if it is not apparent from their contribution or from the context in which their contribution is made.”

However, throughout 2015 BBC Watch was unable to record even one example of that clause having been upheld in Middle East related content which was sourced in one way or another from political NGOs or their representatives.

The BBC’s use of content originating from political NGOs comes in a variety of forms. The most obvious is direct amplification of material produced by NGOs and some examples from the past year can be seen below.Schick art

Human Rights Watch:

BBC News does its convincing impression of HRW PR department yet again

More uncritical amplification of a HRW report from BBC News

Breaking the Silence:

BBC editorial guidelines flouted in promotion of ‘Breaking the Silence’ booklet

Another breach of editorial guidelines in yet more BBC promotion of ‘Breaking the Silence’

Amnesty International:

BBC’s Connolly ‘contextualises’ Hamas torture and execution (spoiler – it’s Israel’s fault)  

BBC amplification of Amnesty’s lawfare agenda again compromises impartiality


BBC News amplifies political NGO in inaccurately headlined report

In other cases, NGOs and/or their representatives are interviewed and/or quoted in BBC reporting, or content produced by NGOs is uncritically promoted, or links are provided directing audiences to the websites of NGOs.BtS audio

Right to Movement:

Political propaganda from the BBC’s Lyse Doucet in Beit Sahour

More inaccuracies and political propaganda from the BBC’s Lyse Doucet


BBC’s Knell raises an opportunistic stink


BBC continues to avoid telling audiences what BDS is really about

Save the Children:

BBC’s Gaza blockade campaign continues with amplification of another NGO

Lyse Doucet’s promotion of her BBC Two ‘Children of the Gaza War’ programme

Amnesty International:

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ amplifies Israel delegitimising lawfare campaign

Forensic Architecture:

BBC amplification of Amnesty’s lawfare agenda again compromises impartiality

BBC WS ‘Newshour’ amplifies Israel delegitimising lawfare campaign


BBC News compromises impartiality with link to website of political NGO   

BBC’s Knell raises an opportunistic stink

BBC tells audiences location of centuries-old Jewish habitation is an ‘illegal settlement’

In other cases, persons working for or associated with political NGOs are interviewed and/or quoted, but not adequately identified.AI report Rafah

Youth Against Settlements:

BBC editorial guidelines breached in report on Hebron incident

Absurdity of BBC’s ‘international law’ mantra exposed by Yolande Knell

BBC World Service ‘Newshour’: using ‘alleged’ and ‘fact’ for framing

PACBI, Sabeel:

BBC WS ‘The History Hour’ breaches impartiality guidelines with Palestinian activist

Ir Amim:

How a BBC WS News bulletin misled on Jerusalem Day

Forward Thinking:

BBC WS’s ‘Newshour’ exploits Pope’s canonizations for promotion of propaganda


BBC’s Yolande Knell back on the ‘one state’ bandwagon


BBC’s Knell flouts impartiality guidelines with failure to inform on Susiya interviewee’s day job

The BBC’s most quoted and promoted local NGO in 2015 was – for the second year running – B’Tselem, followed by ‘Youth Against Settlements’ and ‘Breaking the Silence’.

The most promoted foreign NGO in Israel-related coverage was Amnesty International, followed by Human Rights Watch, Save the Children and ‘Forensic Architecture’.

All of those NGOs come from one side of the spectrum as far as their political approach to Israel is concerned and some of them are even involved in lawfare campaigns against Israel. Yet the BBC serially fails to meet its own editorial guidelines by clarifying their “particular viewpoint” and audiences hence remain unaware of the fact that the homogeneous information they are receiving about Israel is consistently unbalanced.

Related Articles:

Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred Middle East NGOs

Promoted and quoted: the BBC’s preferred NGO contributors in 2014

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