Reporting Israel/Palestine: ethnographic insights into the verbal and visual rhetoric of BBC journalism

2014-07-11T14:25:08Z (GMT) by John Richardson Leon Barkho
Two landmark events have characterised the recent violent years of Israeli–Palestinian conflict: the killing of a US peace activist by an Israeli bulldozer as she tried to prevent it from demolishing the home of a Palestinian resident in Gaza; and the removal of Israeli setters from Gaza by their own government. Of course all sides to the conflict see their arguments as persuasive and logical. But how exactly have those arguments been carried to the rest of the world? This paper examines how the BBC approached both events in two broadcast texts, the discursive and visual rhetoric employed in reporting them, and the argumentative representations it favoured. These argumentative representations are discussed and contextualised through reference to ethnographic and interview data collected with key BBC editorial and executive personnel. The paper finds that the corporation has numerous “gate-keeping” practices shaping its Palestine/Israel news discourse and that its argumentative representations are based on authority and rule rather than pragmatism.