On the BBC correspondent and the siege in Syria
A recent photo of BBC Arabic’s correspondent showed him posing near army officers in Syria immediately after the battle to besiege eastern Aleppo ended
A recent photo of BBC Arabic’s correspondent showed him posing near army officers in Syria immediately after the battle to besiege eastern Aleppo ended. The Syrian regime is directly responsible for the siege, starvation and murder of thousands of Syrians. Many residents were forced to flee their city. Will this photo affect the credibility of BBC Arabic?
The answer is self-evident. Many global TV stations have terminated their contracts with prominent presenters and journalists because they have take a stance toward a certain party on social media. Of course, any journalist or institution can cover an event or pursue a party for a story regardless of how violent or negative this party’s practices are. However, the question is how to do so professionally.
Bias toward the regime
The photo reflects direct bias toward the regime, and there have been many examples of this while the correspondent covered developments from inside Syria. They have been monitored by observers and BBC Arabic employees. The correspondent had portrayed the siege of Daraya as the responsibility of the Syrian opposition. This is a flagrant error that is refuted by facts and by reports from international organizations.
The channel itself once had to apologize for wrongly reporting that the opposition was shelling Aleppo. It had used footage from rebel-held areas and said they were regime-held areas. After this incident, it aired a report saying 44 civilians had been killed by rebel shelling of regime-controlled areas in the city. However, it had used footage of massacres committed by the regime and Russia air forces in neighborhoods controlled by the opposition.
This in addition to the correspondent’s field reports that often camouflage and whitewash the regime’s role in atrocities. Some justify these practices by citing the station’s desire to be present inside Syria, even if according to the regime’s conditions. This is a pitiful excuse.
The BBC presents itself as independent. It is on this basis that we must raise questions about neutrality while covering complicated and significant matters such as SyriaDiana Moukalled
Sense of responsibility
When factions such as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and Jabhat Fateh al-Sham (formerly Al-Nusra Front) commit a crime, the channel attributes it to them - this is necessary. However, it does not do so when the regime commits crimes. For example, a news headline at the bottom of a TV screen may report the death of 100 Syrians in raids in Aleppo, but it would not say the victims were killed by regime shelling.
This ambiguous situation causes even more resentment when it is by a global TV station such as the BBC, which presents itself as independent. It is on this basis that we must raise questions about neutrality while covering complicated and significant matters such as Syria.
This article was first published in Asharq al-Awsat on Sept. 19, 2016.
Diana Moukalled is the Web Editor at the Lebanon-based Future Television and was the Production & Programming Manager with at the channel. Previously, she worked there as Editor in Chief, Producer and Presenter of “Bilayan al Mujaradah,” a documentary that covers hot zones in the Arab world and elsewhere, News and war correspondent and Local news correspondent. She currently writes a regular column in AlSharq AlAwsat. She also wrote for Al-Hayat Newspaper and Al-Wasat Magazine, besides producing news bulletins and documentaries for Reuters TV. She can be found on Twitter: @dianamoukalled.