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CRITICISM OF THE ABC February 10, 2011

Posted by wmmbb in Australian Politics.
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I recently sent an email to the ABC in relation to their depiction of violence on the part of the Egyptian protesters, and they were kind enough to reply. So I thought the correspondence might be of interest.

Here is my email:

Subject: VIOLENCE

Comments: I wish to compliment the ABC on the photo selection for this story.

Who is responsible for framing the democratic revolution in Egypt which will change the world for the better as violent when it involves (as far as I can tell, the broad population).

The real source of violence in Egypt is the Government, abetted by the United States. The violence involves routine torture. For example, consider The Guardian report based on the US Embassy Cables:

There are, and it seems inevitably, incidents of violence involving rock throwing and the like, especially in protests of this scale. These incidents are not usually typical of the protest in general given its composition, and are counter productive in that they allow the excuse for those with the instruments of violence to increase that level disproportionally.

The propaganda media has it view of the world, but why does the ABC buy into it. Surely, there is a place for journalistic integrity and independence, or simply do you aspire to be pathetic?

And the reply in part I received:

Your complaint seems to be that the ABC should not have chosen an image of a protester doing something violent because the Egyptian regime commits acts of greater violence.

The ABC’s Editorial Policies in relation to bias state:

“Editorial judgements are based on news values, not for example on political, commercial or sectional interests or personal views. Do not unduly favour one perspective over others” section 5.2.2(d).

The events in Egypt are significant for many reasons including that they are evidence of the extreme frustration of many Egyptians with the Mubarak regime and that ordinary Egyptians are prepared to take extreme risks to change that regime. The photo helps demonstrate that. On that basis it is justified by news values.

To be fair Al Jazeera similarly showed pictures of rock throwing from the protesters. These incidents of violence then to be highlighted even when the bulk of the demonstrators – as in the case on the West Bank – when the bulk of the protest is nonviolent. These instances are used as the justification for the retaliation by those who have the monopoly over the means to use greater violence.

Events have to be reported on, but a serious, careful and truthful has to create perspective. The story and presentation did not originate with the ABC or its journalists, so my criticism might have been the ABC as a replicator of news feeds from agencies was not been careful about the bias in the original stories. As for the contention that the rock throwers, as distinct from the people in the early protests were taking great risks is simply lame.

POSTSCRIPT:

I have not notice other reports on ABC New Online, such as this report on the state of affairs in Egypt in which Peter Cave, the foreign correspondent has added to the AFP report.

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