The background to one of Newshour’s ‘main stories of 2022’

The December 31st afternoon edition of the BBC World Service radio programme ‘Newshour’ included [from 26:33 here] what presenter Razia Iqbal described as “the highlights of Newshour’s coverage of some of the main stories of 2022”.

Topics included the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the civil war in Ethiopia in which an estimated 600,000 people have been killed, the oppression of women in Afghanistan by the Taliban and the death of Queen Elizabeth II. Among those “main stories of 2022” was also one introduced as follows at 38:24: [emphasis added]

Iqbal: “There was widespread bewilderment in May when the Palestinian-American journalist Shireen Abu Akleh was shot in the head while reporting on an Israeli army raid in the occupied West Bank. She was an employee of Al-Jazeera’s Arabic TV channel. Gun battles broke out between soldiers and Palestinians. The Israeli Defense Force initially said it was not possible to know who killed Shireen Abu Akleh but they later concluded that one of their soldiers probably killed her by mistake. Al Jazeera insists it was a deliberate killing. On the day of the shooting a friend of Shireen, fellow Palestinian-American journalist Dalia Hatuqa, told James Menendez about her.”

Anyone who has followed the BBC’s extensive coverage of the death of Shireen Abu Akleh over the past months would not be surprised by Iqbal’s promotion of an unproven allegation by a media outlet funded and controlled by what the BBC knows is a repressive, corrupting, non-transparent, terror-supporting state. Ever since the news of Abu Akleh’s death first broke on the morning of May 11th 2022, the BBC has repeatedly provided uncritical amplification for that narrative touted by Al Jazeera and others.

As for the editorial decision to categorise this topic as one of the “main” stories of 2022, perhaps one of the contributing factors to that is the sheer amount of coverage it has been given by the BBC. While radio and television reports have a limited lifespan, the platform that the BBC describes as “permanent public record” – the BBC News website –  published no fewer than sixteen items relating to that story on its ‘Middle East’ page alone between May and December 2022:

Al Jazeera reporter killed during Israeli raid in West Bank (11/5/22) discussed here

Doucet: Killed Al Jazeera reporter was an ‘inspiration’ to a generation of journalists (11/5/22)

Shireen Abu Aqla: face and voice of war and peace Lyse Doucet (11/5/22)

Shireen Abu Aqla: Palestinians to refer journalist’s killing to ICC (12/5/22)

Violence at Al Jazeera journalist’s funeral procession (13/5/22)

Shireen Abu Aqla: Violence at Al Jazeera reporter’s funeral in Jerusalem Raffi Berg (13/5/22) discussed here

Shireen Abu Aqla: UN condemns killing of Al Jazeera reporter (14/5/22) discussed here

Shireen Abu Aqla: Christian leaders condemn violence at reporter’s funeral Tom Bateman (16/5/22) discussed here

Palestinian report says Israel deliberately killed Al Jazeera’s Shireen Abu Aqla Raffi Berg (26/5/22) discussed here

Shireen Abu Aqla: UN says an Israeli shot killed Al Jazeera journalist Raffi Berg (24/6/22) discussed here

Shireen Abu Aqla: US releases result of test on bullet that killed reporter Raffi Berg (4/7/22) discussed here

Shireen Abu Aqla: US report on journalist’s death unacceptable, family says David Gritten (5/7/22) discussed here

Shireen Abu Aqla’s brother: ‘I feel abandoned’ (15/7/22) discussed here

Shireen Abu Aqla: Israel says ‘high probability’ soldier killed reporter Tom Bateman (5/9/22) discussed here

Shireen Abu Aqla: Israel rejects US reporter death probe as mistake David Gritten (15/11/22) discussed here

Shireen Abu Aqla: Al Jazeera files case at ICC over journalist’s killing David Gritten (6/12/22) discussed here

Two additional items appeared in the ‘updates’ section of the ‘Middle East’ page but not on the page itself:

Violence breaks out at Shireen Abu Aqla’s funeral in Jerusalem (13/5/22)

Shireen Abu Aqla: NI journalists condemn killing (14/5/22) discussed here

Those sixteen items make up over 11% of all the reports published on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page between May 11th and December 31st 2022.

It is perhaps therefore not surprising that ‘Newshour’ producers arrived at the conclusion that this was one of the “main” stories of 2022.

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