Saturday 30 August 2014

Conflict – Emotion, Bias and Objectivity

Conflict – Emotion, Bias and Objectivity

That’s the heading to the promotional material for the event that was to have taken place at the Frontline Club next week. It was fully booked, but it has now been postponed, which must have been inconvenient for all concerned.

An event discussing media coverage of the recent Israel-Hamas conflict has been cancelled, following plans by the ZF to protest outside it. “Reporting the Israeli–Palestinian Conflict – Emotion, Bias and Objectivity,” organised by the Frontline Club, was scheduled to be held on Sept 3 at the Shaw Theatre.”

Perhaps the postponement (or cancellation?) had something to do with the line-up. 
The latest chapter in the Israeli–Palestinian conflict has again highlighted the difficulties of covering this complex and deep-rooted conflict that provokes such a strong emotional response from the general public.The BBC has faced accusation that it is not critical enough of Israel’s actions and that its reporting is one-sided, where as Channel 4 News has been accused of crossing the line between journalism and campaigning. Is there a middle ground?In the face of such devastation should we expect correspondents to offer an objective view devoid of emotion? If we encourage correspondents to show more emotion do we risk compromising the credibility and standard of journalism in this country?Join us as we take a view of the coverage we have seen, talk to the journalists that have produced it and ask what we can learn.
The above blurb seems, on the face of it, reasonable enough. The BBC is “pro-Israel” and Channel Four pro-Palestinian. Surely this represents a balanced state of affairs? So, we co-opt a spokesperson for the BBC and pit him against one for Channel For. What, as they say on the interweb, could possibly go wrong?

(Apart from the fact that Jeremy (blind as a) Bowen’s reporting has been criticised for its overtly pro-Palestinian attitude, having attracted at least one censure from the BBC Trust, and Jon Snow has been accused of publicly disgracing Channel Four’s news department by turning it into a pro-Palestinian propaganda machine.) 

Oh, and didn’t someone say Owen Jones is on the panel? No, not this time. It was white suited Martin Bell, who complained about the BBC’s refusal to show the DEC appeal for Gaza in 2009, which he thought showed an unfortunate pro-Israel bias. 

So the event would be fine if they just dropped the last word from the title.

Conflict - Emotion and Bias. There, fixed it.

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