The BBC says it will attribute claims made during the Israel-Hamas conflict more clearly after complaints of bias over the way it has covered the war.
The Beeb has been criticised for its refusal to brand Hamas as terrorists – despite the UK and US both using the term – and its reporting of the explosion at the Al-Ahli hospital in Gaza, reports The Telegraph. Executives have now said some changes will be made to “increase clarity and accuracy”.
Deborah Turness, head of BBC News and Current Affairs, told staff: “We are putting in place some additional safeguards around how we attribute and describe sources and information in our coverage of this war.”
The way claims are attributed will be altered. Instead of the BBC reporting the claim before the person or party, it will be the opposite way, for example “hundreds killed, X claims” will now become “X claims hundreds killed”.
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Turness however restated the position that the BBC will not call anyone terrorists without attribution. She said the BBC had not banned the word “militant”, but would not use it as a default when referring to Hamas.
Another change will see a new way of reporting on civilian deaths. This, the BBC hopes, will avoid accusations of bias from either side of the conflict.
Turness wrote: “We also need to think carefully about how we talk about civilian deaths, and how the language we use may, unintentionally, give the impression we view some deaths as more important than others or treat people on either side differently.
“A tweet which said people ‘died’ in Gaza and ‘were killed’ in Israel has been widely used as an example of this. It’s important that we all think carefully about the language we use to avoid creating a false impression.”
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The stylistic changes come after the BBC’s Editorial Guidelines have been criticised. At present they prevent journalists from calling Hamas terrorists.
The BBC and other broadcasters often choose words like “militant” instead of “terrorist”. This has however been criticised by figures such as the Chief Rabbi and the Prime Minister.
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