Report highlights UK media bias towards Israel during first month of Gaza war

Report highlights UK media bias towards Israel during first month of Gaza war
The report notes that a number of key issues regarding coverage of the war, including a lack of contextualisation and framing issues.
3 min read
07 March, 2024
Western coverage of Israel's war on Gaza has caused numerous controversies [Isabel Pavía via Getty Images]

A new report, published on Wednesday, on the UK media coverage of Israel's war on Gaza reveals several biases that skewed reporting in favour of Israel during the initial outbreak of the conflict.

The 150-page report, published by the Muslim Council of Britain's Centre for Media Monitoring (CfMM), analysed online and TV news coverage of the first month of the war from 7 October to 7 November.

The key findings include insights into a lack of contextualisation of the war, which according to CfMM, "perpetuated a narrative lacking crucial context and failed to provide a comprehensive understanding of the conflict".

Many British outlets used 7 October as a starting point for discussion of the conflict, with only 24 percent of news mentioning Israel, Hamas or Gaza including Palestine and Palestinians.

Likewise, the report also found that the framing of the conflict was skewed towards Israel, with TV reports referencing Israeli perspectives three times more than Palestinian ones. For online news it was close to twice as much.

"Most TV broadcast channels promoted 'Israel's right' to defend itself compared with the rights of Palestinians by a ratio of five to one," the report noted.

In addition, the CfMM found that "emotive language describes Israelis as victims of attacks 11 times more than Palestinians" and that pro-Palestinians were often misrepresented and vilified by media outlets.

The report assessed 176,627 TV news clips from 13 broadcasters and 25,515 news articles from 28 online publications, with The New Arab's  reports cited in the investigation.

Faisal Hanif, lead author of the report and media analyst, told The New Arab that as well as being frustrated with media coverage, many people also hold it has complicit in Israel's attacks on Gaza and the West Bank. 

"As we've shown in the report the double standard in how protagonists have been covered is very transparent, and certain media organisations and news outlets have made no pretence about where their allegiance lies."

"As senior journalists have highlighted in the past week the inability to access Gaza and see what is going on there gives us a limited and compromised picture, which in itself is horrific enough," he added.

Israel has restricted any foreign journalists from entering Gaza since the beginning of the war, with only CNN's Clarissa Ward being granted access into Gaza for a limited time, without embedding with the Israeli army. The restriction has prompted an open letter signed by 55 journalists demanding access to the enclave. 

Israel's war on Gaza has killed 30,800 Palestinians and injured a further 72,298. The war has caused severe shortages of food and water, leading to the emergence of famine across the enclave, particularly in northern Gaza.

There have been numerous controversies over Western coverage of Israel's war on Gaza since it began on 7 October, most recently involving US media outlets CNN and The New York Times.

On Friday The Intercept, said it had obtained a leaked audio recording from a CNN meeting at the outlet's London Bureau, revealing staffers arguing with network executives over the network's coverage of the war.

Internal debates have also been occurring at The New York Times over its coverage of the war, with its report on Hamas' alleged systematised use of sexual violence on 7 October garnering an internal criticism and resulting in a review.

Discontent over reporting on Israel's war on Gaza was also reportedly occurring at the LA Times and the BBC in the early weeks of the war.