Bad journalism vs. Good journalism
I'd like to thank the BBC for providing a brilliant example on how not double-checking the facts, and then misquoting a source, can harm a company's journalistic #integrity – and harm a community against whom the misinformation is directed.
There’s a rather simple principle that journalists are meant to follow -- seek truth and report it.
Even if the journalist is quoting from another media outlet, it is still pertinent to report what was written and not something other.
So, when BBC chose to use a report by Reuters for its own commentary, sourcing that the information comes from Reuters is good practice but changing what they said is not.
On Nov. 15, Reuters reported that Israeli forces "include medical teams and Arabic speakers, who have undergone specified training to prepare for this complex and sensitive environment, with the intent that no harm is caused to the civilians." (link here: https://lnkd.in/dmYxmVSn)
Let’s break that down.
Reuters uses the word “include” when talking about medical teams and Arabic speakers. And then later in the same sentence, reiterates the ‘why’ they were included: “with the intent that no harm is caused to the civilians.”
Who. What. Why.
Bad journalism happens when sources are misquoted.
When opinions seep into hard news pieces that are meant to tell the facts.
Misquoting a source is not only wrong but dangerous, too.
Spreading #misinformation is not journalism. It is spreading incorrect, false, inaccurate and wrong information.
So, Reuters reported that forces included medical teams and Arabic speakers.
And they reported why this was so.
And yet, the BBC presenter quoting this Reuters report changed the meaning of the story AND put the onus of the mistake on Reuters.
Instead of saying the Israeli military forces INCLUDE medical teams and Arabic speakers so that they can make sure no civilians are harmed, the presenter changed the word ‘include’ to ‘target’, thus also inventing a new ‘why’ narrative.
This is not an “oopsy” mistake.
Again, read the full sentence – the “why” in the Reuters report is very clear.
When BBC changed the story, it both threw Reuters under the bus (because the BBC said all its information was coming from Reuters) and smeared Israel’s name (because a new “why” was invented to match the presenter’s opinion).
The BBC then issued an apology. Well, a fauxpology.
BBC apologized for misquoting the Reuters report.
The media company did not apologize for the outcome this misquote caused, namely, smearing Israel's name to fit a completely made-up narrative from the one described in the original report.
And as such, this fauxpology isn’t enough.