Saturday 8 November 2014

RTs, #Tags not endorsements

A whole week has gone by without us doing a post about Jon Donnison. (Yes, I know. Can it really be that long?)

His misdeeds on Twitter are fast approaching a scandal but that doesn't seem to stop the Sydney-based BBC correspondent from pouring out a daily diet of tweets and re-tweets about Israel and the Palestinians. Nearly all of the ones about Israel are from an unsympathetic perspective. I can't recall a single one that's unambiguously positive about Israel. If he could just bring himself to tweet or re-tweet good news about Israel as well as bad things it wouldn't be quite so bad, but he just can't bring himself to do that little thing. (And, as for RTs, #Tags not endorsements, well, pull the other one Jon!)

His tweets about non-Israeli matters, including those from Australia - whose current affairs he's meant to be covering - tend towards the trivial, as if he's not really bothered about them (unless it relates to 'Islamophobia' in Australia). His obsession with tiny Israel and the Palestinians remains at the heart of his work on Twitter.

And it is work. Few BBC reporters have made Twitter so central to their work as Jon Donnison.

He does not primarily use his Twitter feed for private purposes. His feed bears the stamp of the BBC and he uses it as a high-profile part of his reporting. He uses it to publicly confront Israeli spokesmen, for starters. He also uses it to publicise his photos of suffering Gazan children, and he uses it to provide links to other news sources and guide his followers' reading of those news sources [about which, much more later]. 

Unlike with those myriad BBC reporters who don't use Twitter in so public and 'professional' a way, if matters if Jon Donnison is overwhelmingly biased on Twitter. Some of his past tweets have risked doing great harm to Israel's reputation, including his infamous re-tweet of an injured Syrian girl's image as if she were a Gazan girl hurt in an Israeli strike.

He gets away with it by just managing to keep on the right side of tweeting something sackable. He has that down to a fine art, but he skates so close to the edge, week in week out, that one day he might come a cropper.

Anyhow, here's a little statistical take on Jon Donnison's twittering. 

Since August, he's linked to or re-tweeted many things. Doing a count of all his links over the past three months produces the following figures for the frequency of his promotion of particular media sources. 

What follows will list the totals first for Israeli news sources - the main English language ones being, moving from the Right to the Left (roughly-speaking): the Jerusalem Post, The Times of Israel, Ynet and, furthest left of all, Haaretz ('the Guardian of Israel'). How many times has Jon linked to each of those?

Jerusalem Post - 1
The Times of Israel - 2
Ynet - 1
Haaretz - 31

So I think it's more than safe to conclude that Jon Donnison is a Haaretz man. 

But what of the UK media outlets (other than the BBC)? How many times does he retweet/link to each of them?

The Daily Telegraph - 2
The Times - 0
The Independent - 1
The Financial Times - 0
The Guardian - 34
The Economist - 5
The Daily Mail - 0
The Daily Express - 0
The Sun - 2 
The Daily Mirror - 0
Sky News - 1
Channel 4 News - 3
Huff Post UK - 1
Hackney Post - 1
Private Eye - 1

Well, I think we can just as safely say that Jon Donnison is a Guardian man, thus more than living up to the stereotype of the BBC reporter who pretty much sticks to reading the Guardian. 

Fancy that! 

Haaretz and the Guardian: Jon Donnison's daily reading and, he presumably hopes, his loyal followers' daily reading too. 

What does that tell you about the BBC's Sydney correspondent?


  1. Donnison is scum, emotionally damaged. He once said that it was his (or the BBC's) job to fight against Israeli propaganda. To give up the cause now, or admit even the tiniest error, would force him to reexamine himself and question his self identity. Not going to happen.

  2. Thanks for that.

    It reminded me to pop back and check the status of a complaint I risked (entering the BBC Complaints system being a short route to madness)... back in July.

    Lo and behold, after a few 'we don't know what you mean; he's a reporting god' attempted blow-offs I resisted, it seems they went for Plan B, namely pretend it never happened and hope it goes away.

    Not sure that's going to work for me, and now this data adds some hefty factual meat to counter what was shaping up to be a full belief-based set of semantics to close this file.

    I had presumed he'd been shunted off to Oz as his efforts in the Middle East were doing some serious damage to the BBC's already rock-bottom reporting objectivity cred from the region.

    But as much as he seems determined to drag things back there, his masters and defenders seem determined to see him as incapable of doing wrong, not matter what.

    That they circle wagons for such a liability speaks volumes about the BBC now. And it is not a pretty read.

    1. That's also been my working assumption as to why he got packed off to Oz and why he appears to have been sulking about it every since. And yet they sent him back to Gaza this summer to do his worst, which he duly did.

      As proof of the BBC's continuing admiration for him, did you spot the tweet from Jonathan Munro, Head of BBC Newsgathering, yesterday praising his latest foray into Abbott-bashing?:

      Jonathan Munro @jonathancmunro · Nov 10
      Cracking story on @BBCNews R4 at 1800 by @JonDonnison about Aussie WW2 vets having to pay to get to lunch with PMs Abbott and Cameron


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