Even a novice blogger can tell you that posting headlines based on momentary snapshots of a fast-changing narrative are likely to mislead. Twitter is the stuff of unfettered news streams. Websites should be edited.
So what is a reader to make of the headline above: “Gaza rocket fire kills Israelis”? What instinctive conclusions does such a snapshot invite us to arrive at? And is this a fair way of covering this story? [ BBC website screenshot taken at 10am today ].
We all have bias but the BBC clings to the figleaf of old news organisations that maintains objectivity is possible and can be protected no matter what. Its strategy here seems to be to suffocate whatever bias might exist behind the avalanche of changing data such a fast-changing story offers. It is a way of avoiding the responsibility to contextualise for fear of being obliged to tell a version of truth some will disagree with. And the results make its website appear either glib or biased. In my view, the latter.
Of course, today’s “front page” could also be just an sign of how inadequate design can distort a reader’s impression when a multi-faceted, fast-moving story breaks. Could one provide greater context without breaking the layout? Either way, the BBC should know better.
Here is one overview of the chronology of today’s Gaza war. Is it accurate? Given the importance of the story, I expected to be able to find a comparison by scanning this BBC front page. The least such a well funded organisation could do would be to provide their own chronology and find a way to avoid misleading snapshots.
It would not feel so grave to me, but the BBC has a habit of releasing the same handful of headlines and broadcasting them on all its platforms every 15 minutes, 24 hours a day. That makes for an awful lot of snapshots and before long they come together to form a consensus.
* Unbelievably, three hours since clipping that screen shot, the headline remains unchanged. Regardless of all the events since the IDF assault of Gaza began yesterday, this remains the uncontested lede. It links to a trio of headlines which includes the British Government’s condemnation of Hamas. The BBC appears to have taken sides, again.