Attack on the Mavi Marmara-1

Review from the Office of the Ombudsman | English Services

Summary

Radio reports about the Israeli attack on the ship Mavi Marmara

You wrote initially on June 1, 2010, to complain about a story on the 6 a.m. edition of World Report concerning the events surrounding the interception of the ship Mavi Marmara. You said: “Your bias is apparent from what you failed to mention: the vicious attack on the Israeli commandos as they were dropped onto the Mavi Marmara.” You also said: “Oh I know, you said briefly that the Israelis ‘claimed' that they were attacked and acted in self-defense, but spent most of your report helping to drum up anti-Israeli sentiment by just glossing over the evidence that proves their case.”

You made reference to video that you said proved that the troops were attacked. Esther Enkin, the Executive Editor of CBC News, replied. She pointed out that the reports on June 1 had moved beyond the basic facts of the case, which had been reported the day before, and on to reaction and various analyses. As you know, most of the activists were being held by Israel and were unavailable for comment in the hours immediately after the raid. She also noted that the videos were shown on CBC Television outlets, but obviously not on CBC Radio.

You were unsatisfied with her response and asked for a review.

From the CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices:

Accuracy The information conforms with reality and is not in any way misleading or false. This demands not only careful and thorough research but a disciplined use of language and production techniques, including visuals.

Integrity The information is truthful, not distorted to justify a conclusion. Broadcasters do not take advantage of their power to present a personal bias.

Fairness The information reports or reflects equitably the relevant facts and significant points of view; it deals fairly and ethically with persons, institutions, issues and events. It must be kept in mind that this story unfolded quickly and dramatically. Information was scarce and, sometimes, conflicting. Some people were content to accept the official explanations of the Israeli government. They are free to do so, but journalists must remain skeptical of all explanations until sufficient evidence is available to confirm them. It should be noted that even the video “evidence” was questioned.

Of course, appropriate skepticism must be applied to explanations from those trying to break the blockade. I took the opportunity to listen to a number of broadcasts after the first news broke concerning the raid. I included both World Report and The World at Six. The programs have slightly different mandates within the news structure. World Report (a ten-minute broadcast) is a morning news program designed to give listeners a relatively brief update on events that have happened overnight. The World at Six (a thirty-minute broadcast) strives to provide a deeper look at the events of the day, allowing more time for background and context.

So the notion of “bias” has to be examined with that in mind. Listening to World Report over several days it was clear the program was attempting to provide the latest developments on the story, without a lot of back-tracking. The World at Six, on the other hand, provided a fuller picture of both the breaking news and the background thereto. I should also add that the program As It Happens, which I reviewed based on another complaint, provided some excellent journalism with its interview of significant figures in the controversy, not least the official spokesman for the Israeli government who was heard, at length, twice in three days.

So, with that context, I can say that the item on World Report on the morning of June 1 was an appropriate advancing of the story.

Conclusion

There was no violation of CBC's Journalistic Standards and Practices let alone any discernible or persistent bias.

Vince Carlin
CBC Ombudsman