Sunday, 27 December 2009

BBC: Tim Franks Justifying Operation Cast Lead

Hi Tim,

Hope you're ok. I've just read your article
I find it extremely unbalanced. I'll explain why. Here is your article cut right down.

  • Story of Israeli woman of with head injuries from Palestinian rocket. (Occurred before Israeli offensive)

  • Offensive, drawing on Israeli ministers and Army, due to rockets since 2002.

  • Palestinian man with injuries from the Israeli offensive.

  • Justified attack with reduced numbers of rockets fired post offensive.
Attack Justified

You have neatly justified the Israeli attack last year and I'll guess that anyone reading this article might not notice where in time you started from for each side, (2002 - Israel, 2008 - Gaza), and will no doubt draw the conclusion that Gaza had it coming.

Gazans fire rockets towards Israel because that's what they do

There is no mention of the crippling blockade, the ongoing killing, arrests and the persecution of the people in the open-air prison that is Gaza. There is no mention from any Gazan official. A mention of the aid-convoy sitting at Egypt's border wouldn't have gone amiss.

If it was your intention to just write about the human suffering then you've failed miserably.

I hope you find time to balance your article.


Update - Reply from BBC's Tim Franks

From: Tim Franks
Sent: Sunday, December 27, 2009 3:29 PM
Subject: RE: Slow recovery from wounds of Gaza conflict


I'm sorry you were dissatisfied with the piece. It was an attempt to give, in a little more detail than is usual, the stories of two people who have been caught up in the conflict. It was in no way meant to be an all-encompassing guide to the war or the continuing problems. That has been covered, extensively, in the rest of our output, on the internet, radio and TV.


Further email to Tim Franks

Thanks Tim for your reply. It is much appreciated.

If you wanted to pick two people out, one from Gaza and one from Israel and tell their stories, that would be fine despite the fact that Palestinian casualties are many times higher than Israeli. But you go someway to explain Israel's stance in this piece and not Gaza's leaving the reader to think Israel did nothing to provoke the rocket attacks and therefore misleading them. I'm not wanting an "all-encompassing guide" just balance.

Will you address this imbalance please?


To BBC Complaints

Dear BBC,

I read your article about people caught up in the conflict [Cast Lead] and I
find that it is unbalanced and misleading.

Break down:
10,000+ rockets from Gaza, Israel officials say,
Story: Israeli woman Injured before Cast Lead,
Note on why Cast Lead was launched, Israeli officials again,
Story: Palestinian man injured during Cast Lead,
Fewer rockets launched post Cast Lead, Israeli army,

Now I do realise this isn't supposed to be an all-encompassing guide to the
conflict or indeed the wider conflict. It is supposed to be about two people
trying to heal and get on with their lives. But you go someway to explain
Israel's stance in this piece and not Gaza's leaving the reader to think
Israel did nothing to provoke the rocket attacks and therefore misleading

You should either leave anything of a political nature out or balance the
article with why some in Gaza feel "Forced" to fire rockets toward Israel.
eg/ crippling blockade.

The other point I'd like to make is about the Israeli woman you chose. She
was hurt prior to Cast Lead. She was not hurt in "the Gaza Conflict". She
was hurt in the wider ongoing conflict. Her testimony serves Israel's
reasons for their offensive whereas the Palestinian man's doesn't. I mean, why didn't you pick a Palestinian who had been injured which "Forced" someone to fire rockets into Israel?

The underlying tone of this piece echoes the Israeli line while leaving out
the Palestinian point of view. Please balance this article. I'd like a

Sunday, 13 December 2009

BBC: Obfuscating The Civilian Body Count in Iraq

Last week, ex-spy Chief Sir John Scarlett said of the alleged Iraqi WMD threat, "There was absolutely no conscious intention to manipulate the language or to obfuscate or to create a misunderstanding as to what this might refer to."

One has to ask a question of the BBC everytime they write about mortality in Iraq.

Here we have an article by Natalia Antelava for BBC News, "Who is counting the bodies in Iraq?"

"We don't do body counts." These were the words of Gen Tommy Franks, the man in charge of the US-led invasion of Iraq.
Straight from the off, we read the infamous lines of Gen Tommy Franks, a military man. You would be forgiven then in thinking that this article was about enemy deaths and not the loss of innocent life. The next couple of paragraphs do nothing to make this clear with the word civilian totally missing.

But more than six-and-a-half years after the invasion, the body count has become a critical measure of success and failure in Iraq.

In November, officials announced that violent deaths were at their lowest since 2003. That was an important example of progress in Iraq, according to the Iraqi government.
You wouldn't know it from this article but whenever anyone talks or writes about the number of Iraqi dead, they actually mean innocent civilians who have lost their lives in violent situations. In order for them to be counted, they have to be reported and verified.

The lives that are not counted are those who have died in non-violent situations that could have either been easily prevented or simply would not have occurred at all if it was not for the US led invasion. Diarrhea, malnutrition or leukemia from depleted uranium are just a few examples.

The BBC writes of the Iraqi government,

'Deaths matter'

But the government denies manipulating figures. "We are not lying, and I can guarantee you that the office of Prime Minister Maliki would never lie about the figures," said Mr Moutalibi, the government adviser."

There is no justification to distorting this kind of information. It's disrespectful. Every death, every person matters."
So I ask myself, why is the BBC so careless and thoughtless when it comes to reporting this matter?

The BBC have added the above, unnoticeable side table to their report. Again it misleads us with the title, "Counting the Dead" and then goes on to mistrepresent Iraq Body Count which just counts violent, media-reported, civilian deaths.

IBC doesn't say that, "94,705 - 103,336 civilians have died since the invasion", at all. This should read, "94,705 - 103,336 civilians have died violently since the invasion".

They should add a comment reflecting the words of IBC's founder John Sloboda mentioned in a BBC interview,

"We've always said our work is an undercount, you can't possibly expect that a media-based analysis will get all the deaths. Our best estimate is that we've got about half the deaths that are out there." -- John Sloboda, IBC

The side table goes on to confuse the issue further by juxtaposing the IBC's count with that of the Lancet's epidemiological study, which, produced a total figure for violent and non-violent civilian deaths. The two can't be compared without a proper breakdown or comment.

Then there is this graph which again has the misleading title. Sourced from Iraq Body Count, this should be entitled, "Violent Civilian Deaths...", as it doesn't include the non-violent figure.

The BBC writes:

"But violence, it seems, could still be dictating the rules of the game."
and that's all it is - a game indeed!