Saturday 22 November 2014

A case in point

Following on from the previous post...

Here's how the Sky News website begins its report on  the latest Islamist atrocity news:
Dozens of passengers were forced at gunpoint to profess their faith and were separated into groups, according to local policemen.
Al Shabab militants have hijacked a bus in Kenya, with gunmen singling out 28 non-Muslims and shooting them dead, according to police.
Here, in contrast, is how the BBC New website begins its report on the same story:
Suspected members of the Somali militant group al-Shabab have killed at least 28 people in an attack on a bus in northern Kenya, officials say.
The bus was travelling to the capital, Nairobi, when it was stopped in Mandera county, near the Somali border. 
The Sky News report spotlights the religious (Islamic) character of the terrorist acts whereas the BBC News report leaves that out of its headline and opening paragraphs.

Here's how other sites report the story:
The GuardianDozens killed in Kenya bus attack, say policeOfficials say al-Shabaab militants from Somalia hijacked bus in north of country and killed 28 non-Muslims on board
The TimesNon-Muslims massacred in Kenya bus hijackAl-Shabaab militants have hijacked a bus in Kenya and killed 28 non-Muslims on board, singling them out from other passengers.
The Daily TelegraphAl Shabaab thought to be behind massacre of passengers on bus in northern KenyaAt least 28 feared dead in attack near Somali border
Al-Shabaab militants from Somalia hijacked a bus in Kenya's north and killed 28 non-Muslims on board after they had been singled out from the rest of the passengers, police officials said Saturday.
The IndependentKenya bus attack: 28 non-Muslims killed after being unable to recite Koran in suspected al-Shabab attackSuspected al-Shabab militia have killed 28 people on a bus in Northern Kenya, officials say.
The BBC is clearly the only one downplaying the religious element in the Islamist attack in Kenya by refusing to report that information right at the start of its main online report.

This is an example of what David at Five Minutes for Israel outlined the other day:
One of the first things a Media student learns is how way a news article is structured.  In the so-called inverted triangle structure the main points of the story , the five W’s – who, what, when, why and how should be right at the top while less essential elements can be relegated further down – and cut without losing the story’s essential meaning.
As readers, even if we don’t have the benefit of university training, we learn to recognise the structure. The closer information is to the top of the page the more important it is.

In the BBC article, it's only in the fourth paragraph, if you were to read the whole story, that readers are told of the horrific religious aspect of the massacre.

Why did the BBC do that there? Why did it downplay the 'attack on non-Muslims' element? Is it not another example of Frank Gardner's "very, very careful" BBC reporting of matters relating to Muslims, not wishing to confirm that these Islamist terrorists had an Islamic 'reason' for what they did? 


  1. It may be worth noting that the link to that carefully vague headline you quote leads to a story with a different headline.

    Possibly it was quietly changed by the BBC with the original not really impressing on any basis, professional to ethical.

    As the BBC is prone to do.

    1. Yes, they are always changing headlines. You sometimes see a headline on, say, the BBC Home page and a different headline once you click into the article. That's not something even Newssniffer seems able to pick up.

  2. Yes. As Hugh Sykes would tell you, if the BBC put the Muslim bit at the top, it would give permission for prejudice. Can't have that. What's really sad is that thousands of Beeboids seethed with anger at management's refusal to broadcast that Hamas appeal a couple years ago, and at management's decision to report honestly about what went down on the Marvi Marmara. Yet there are no complaints or angry Beeboid tweets about this sort of thing.


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