Friday, July 02, 2004


Business as unusual

In last weekend's Observer, Tim Llewelyn (a former BBC Middle East correspondent of 10 years) draws on his own experience as well as a recently published study by Greg Philo and the Glasgow University Media Group called 'Bad News from Israel: television news and public understanding of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict' to indict television news' coverage of Israel/Palestine. It's a worthwhile read, and although it's hard to scientifically evaluate media bias, I believe the more one knows the more it becomes obvious that in this situation there is a very real pro-Israel bias throughout the mainstream media. The evidence is not only in anecdotal evidence of slanted news (a very good resource for this is Palestine Media Watch), but in the uneducated and uninformed views of those who rely on TV news for information.
Almost as importantly, the Glasgow volume also shows the results of this coverage and how badly it serves the public who pays for it. The team interviewed many people, of different backgrounds, regions and ages (the study explains fully its focus group methods and practices), whose views of the conflict, as seen through TV, are closely analysed. Two examples: of groups of British students interviewed in 2001 and 2002 only about 10 per cent knew it was Israel that occupied Palestine - most believed the Palestinians were the settlers and it was they who occupied Israel. In 2002, only 35 per cent of the British students questioned knew that the Palestinians had suffered far greater casualties than the Israelis.
Llewelyn goes on to explain the reasons that this is the case, and the prospects for any shift in the way the media cover the Israeli-Palestinian issue. Again, it's a worthwhile read. Thanks to my Aunt Deb and for spotting this, as I certainly never would have - it was in the Business section of the Observer. Whatever this has to do with business (other than very peripherally the business of television), I'm not really sure. I find it odd and I think it's unfortunate that things like this get pushed into the corners.

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