SUCCESS: BBC Brought to Heel

Thanks to you – our subscribers – taking action, the BBC has apologized for publishing the false dog story. Here’s what appeared on the BBC News Editor’s blog:

The BBC has been almost impervious to criticism, typically responding to complaints about its Middle East coverage by failing to acknowledge the problem, as in the case of the unreleased Balen Report, or sending standard e-mails to complainants.

Many of you protested the BBC’s publication of the false story alleging a Jerusalem rabbinical court had sentenced a dog to be stoned to death and the subsequent failure to acknowledge a serious breach of journalistic professionalism. Your dogged determination has been rewarded as the BBC has finally taken responsibility. The posting on its Editor’s blog reads:

You may have noticed a headline in our “most popular” module about a dog being condemned to stoning in Israel. It was followed a few days later by a denial: Jerusalem court denies dog condemned by stoning. The first story has now been taken down. This is not a step we often take so I wanted to explain why we have done so on this occasion. We based our article on sources we have used in the past: Ynet, a popular Israeli website, and the news agency AFP. What we did not know when we wrote the story was that the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv had already published a retraction and an apology. We failed to make the right checks. We should never have written the article and apologise for any offence caused. We have kept the story carrying the denial in the interests of transparency.

Nathalie Malinarich is world editor of the BBC News website.

We welcome the BBC’s apology and admission that it got it wrong. This is a rare display of humility on the part of a media behemoth that has previously regarded itself as almost infallible.

We cannot be complacent, however. This is a small step in the right direction and vindicates HonestReporting’s highlighting when the BBC gets it wrong.

Credit to you – our readers – for taking action and proving that the media – even the BBC – will listen when enough of you respond to issues of media bias.


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