‘Over-Reliance on Israeli Sources’ – Australia’s ABC Staff Raise Concerns over Gaza Coverage

Australia’s ABC staff warn about 'an over-reliance on Israeli sources' in its Gaza coverage. (Image: Palestine Chronicle)

By Palestine Chronicle Staff  

“We’re worried the language we’re using in our coverage is askew, favoring the Israeli narrative over objective reporting.”

Staff at Australia’s national broadcaster have warned that its coverage of the genocidal war on Gaza indicated “an over-reliance on Israeli sources and explicit distrust of Palestinian sources” as well as language that “favoured the Israeli narrative over objective reporting.”

A three-page summary of a meeting obtained by the Al-Jazeera news network through a freedom of information request, detailed concerns raised by staff at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) about pro-Israel bias by the channel.

Concerns such as accepting “Israeli facts and figures with no ifs or buts”, Palestinian viewpoints being questioned and the avoidance of the word “Palestine” itself, Al-Jazeera said.

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Although the document is undated, its contents are said to correspond with a meeting held in November with 200 staff members.

The summary “contained extensive detail about the staff’s concerns and also previously unpublished examples of alleged pro-Israel bias,” Al-Jazeera further said.

Addressed to “managers and colleagues,” staff reportedly said in the document that “We’re worried the language we’re using in our coverage is askew, favoring the Israeli narrative over objective reporting. This is evident in our reluctance to use words such as ‘War crimes’, ‘Genocide”, ‘Ethnic cleansing’, ‘Apartheid’ and ‘Occupation’ to describe the various aspects of the Israeli practices in Gaza and the West Bank, even when the words are attributed to respectable organisations and sources.”

The document was signed “Concerned ABC journalists and staff.”

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‘Contextualize the Conflict’

The summary further documented that staff said: “Meanwhile, we’re quick to use ‘terrorist’, ‘barbaric’, ‘savage’ and ‘massacre’ when describing the October 7th attacks. Similarly, we regularly quote sources referring to highly contested claims made by Israel, but not those made by Palestinians and their supporters.”

Staff said while ABC could not make accusations of genocide or war crimes taking place, the broadcaster “should be more proactive in reporting them to properly contextualise the conflict”.

They felt it was “especially the case as we are far more comfortable in labelling Hamas’s actions ‘terrorism’ yet lack the language to correctly describe Israeli aggression in the region.”

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Staff were also concerned about ABC having “several correspondents on the ground in Israel, but none in Gaza. This, invariably means that the number of voices that get included tilt the audience’s understanding of the situation.”

“We believe our editorial policies/guidance need updating to reflect more objective, balanced reporting, by addressing the aforementioned concerns,” the document stated.

Ombudsman’s Office

In response to the concerns raised by staff, an ABC spokesperson told Al Jazeera that the broadcaster refrains from commenting on confidential staff matters.

The spokesperson reportedly said: “All major stories are subject to robust internal discussion and we listen to and respect staff input.”

The spokesperson further said that the ABC Ombudsman’s Office affirmed the outlet’s coverage of the war in Gaza to be “professional, wide-ranging and reflective of newsworthy events.”

According to the Al Jazeera report, “tensions continue to simmer at the ABC over the conflict,” months after the staff meeting.


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1 Comment

  1. It’s no surprise. I realized, after reading the PLO books on the Nakba in 1990, that I had been educated to hate Arabs and particularly the Palestinians, by biased media reporting while I was growing up. The bitter irony is that the anti-Arab, anti-Muslim biases of Western media, parallel that of a previous era’s antisemitic biases, but sadly, most people don’t realize that. I’ve been working on cancelling those biases, rectifying my world view, since then. But yes, it is something that should be brought to Western journalists’ attention.

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