SBS apologises for “sloppy and biased” reporting

July 28, 2017 by J-Wire Staff
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SBS has apologised for a report on a recent attack in Jerusalem which stated that an “attacker was shot dead after stabbing a border police officer” which failed to report that the young policewoman victim died of her injuries.

Peter Wertheim

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s executive director Peter Wertheim wrote to SBS: “Israeli security forces have shot dead three Palestinians accused of carrying out shooting and stabbing attacks in Jerusalem.

Two Israeli officers were injured in the attacks. The incidents occurred near the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

Israeli authorities say two men were shot and killed after opening fire at police officers. And another attacker was shot dead after stabbing a border police officer.”

There is clearly no mention of the fact that the shooting of the three Palestinians occurred not simply after the “stabbing” of a 23 year old female police officer, Hadas Malka, but after she was fatally stabbed. (She died of her wounds a short time later the same day). In fact the horrific murder of this woman was not reported in the item at all, even though this fact had been widely reported by other media for many hours before the SBS story went to air.

This was an appalling omission of a crucial fact that was relevant to the story. Nor does it appear that the omission was inadvertent, as it is entirely in keeping with the whole tenor of the report, which is to highlight only the deaths of those who instigated the attack, as if they were the only people killed in the incident.

This is not only sloppy reporting, but also biased reporting. The equivalent in Australia would have been to report the terrorist murder of Curtis Cheng by Farhad Jabar in October 2015 with the headline: “Muslim teenager shot dead by police”, and without mentioning the fact that Jabar was shot dead after murdering Curtis Cheng.”

He added: “Even the SBS website made mention of the young woman’s death at least two hours before the 6.30pm News. In fact, this was included in the title of the article http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/06/17/claims-responsibility-fatal-stabbing- israeli-policewoman”

Wertheim formally made the ECAJ complaint stating:

Please consider this to be a formal complaint under Code 2.2 of the SBS Code of Practice. In particular:

  1. (i)  The report in question did not make a “”reasonable effort … to ensure that the factual content was accurate”, inasmuch as it completely omitted all mention of the fact that the knifing of Hadas Malka was fatal, which was a fact that was of critical relevance to the event; and
  2. (ii)  By virtue of that omission, and the emphasis on the deaths of the attackers, the report in question was biased.

Hadas Hadar

In her reply to the ECAJ, SBS Ombudsman Sally Begbie wrote of the broadcast: “The script was as follows:

Israeli security forces have shot dead three Palestinians accused of carrying out shooting and stabbing attacks in Jerusalem.

Two Israeli officers were injured in the attacks. The incidents occurred near the Damascus Gate of Jerusalem’s walled Old City.

Israeli authorities say two men were shot and killed after opening fire at police officers. And another attacker was shot dead after stabbing a border police officer.

The report did not state that one of the police victims, female officer Hadas Malka, had died as a result of the attack. The fact was available prior to broadcast and should have been included in the SBS report.

In relation to balance and impartiality Code 2.2 states:

Reasonable effort should be made to ensure news and current affairs content is balanced and impartial, having regard to the circumstances at the time of reporting and broadcasting or publishing, the nature and immediacy of the material being reported, and public interest considerations.

On 17 June the SBS World News report began with the response of the Israeli security forces against the attackers, and not the actions of attackers themselves. As this was the first time these incidents were reported in the SBS World News 6.30pm television bulletin, and given the error in not reporting the police fatality, I consider that the way in which this report was constructed could unintentionally have left the average viewer with an unfair impression of the incidents.

Even taking into consideration that this was a brief voice over report, the manner in which the incidents were reported lessened the impact of the initial actions, which were organised attacks on Israeli police in which an officer died.

SBS apologises for this breach of Code 2.2. As a result of this breach the Director of News and Current Affairs, Jim Carroll, has reminded his staff of the need to for fact checking and fairness in reporting.”

 

 

Comments

3 Responses to “SBS apologises for “sloppy and biased” reporting”
  1. Adrian Jackson says:

    I thought everyone knew she died?

    The border police need to be more vigilant and this would not happen.

  2. Erica Edelman says:

    Oh tut tut Mr Jim Carroll. Speaking to your staff about fair
    Reporting, eh? I’ve worked in newsrooms
    And I know what goes on in them. Sensationalism,
    Drama, embellishment and stretching the facts to “try”
    To make the perceived bad guys “more bad” and the victims (in this case)
    Long Suffering!
    When it comes to news items in the Middle East it’s always
    Best to stick to the formulaic WHO WHY WHAT WHERE WHEN
    HOW rule !
    That way none of SBS’s tendencies to “bag” Israel, display antisemitism, sympathize
    With the agitators, capitulate with the “perceived underdog”, slate the “occupiers”
    Or slam dunk “the real heroes” in a story, will be on show like the proverbial peacock preening itself!
    Best to kerb your staffers’ pathetic desires to report fiction. This way the world will be on its
    Way to being a much safer place and you and your staff, Mr Carroll, will be lifting the bar and setting
    A new precedent and standard in reporting.

  3. George Freund says:

    As usual the damage is done apologies mean nothing the harm is done
    They have condemned Israel that is what best at this

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