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Friday, 15 August 2014

Not quite all of the News.

When the "News" is neither accurate or comprehensive.

At 10pm last night, we had stories covering Nouri al-Maliki, Ferguson Missouri, mount Sinjar, Robin Williams, GCE A levels, Sir Cliff Richard, David Cameron and arming the Kurds, Russia and the Ukraine, Syria, European athletics, Ebola, Eurozone, Tony Pulis (I did not know who he is either. It seems that he is/was the manager of Crystal Palace), and a number of other, in some cases even less significant stories than those listed, purporting to be "The News".
BBC Television News channel, Sky News, The News from ITN and even Aljazeera, all carrying stories and reports of events at home and from around the world. However, what was conspicuous by its absence on all news channels, certainly the ones which I saw at least, was any report on the current situation in Gaza. Not a mention or even a word.
It was as if Gaza had completely ceased to exist and had disappeared into the sea. Aljazeera did not make a passing reference to the Palestinians or even the ceasefire talks in Cairo.

Palestinians stand in rubble of the al-Qassam mosque

I am not suggesting that Gaza should dominate every news programme on every channel on the hour, every day every week, as there are many stories which demand and should rightly receive coverage, but for all major news channels to fail to even mention the truce extension, the exchange of rockets resulting in Israeli airstrikes as the extended ceasefire came into effect, is baffling to say the least and could be considered by some to be ominous.
Even leaving aside the question of ceasefires, rockets, Egyptian mediators and other important matters but not necessarily at the top of the list of issues for this discussion, it is difficult to reconcile the proposition that the manager of some football team for example, is somehow more newsworthy than the plight of 500,000 homeless who remain without shelter, children usually two to a bed in overcrowded hospitals, the lack of food water and shelter in the area and the immense task of rebuilding homes, hospitals and infrastructure.

Yesterday, (August 14th) I commented on how the story of the Yazidi people on Mount Sinjar, had overnight become almost a non story, as things were not as bad as previously thought and that only a few thousand people remained on the mountain top.
Yet this item featured prominently on the "news" channels carrying reports from correspondents in Washington, London, Irbil and Baghdad.
It is a question of balance. At the end of the day of course, the content of a news programme or a magazine or newspaper is an editorial decision for the programme management, but it would be worrying to think that content decisions were being taken by a third party based more on political bias and expediency, than on comprehensive, accurate and true coverage. I have already raised the specter of state or other interference with the content of our news.
It would be a sinister progression down the path towards complete restriction or manipulation of media content, if reports from Gaza and the living conditions and fate of the people there were to be completely eradicated from the news as is clearly the case with Bahrain.