Dutch NOS Journaal TV reporting on
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (2009-2010)
In January 2009 Waar Foundation and Israel Facts (IF) presented a report about the NOS reporting concerning the Gaza war December 2009 / January 2010.
In April 2009 a delegation of WAAR and IF had a meeting with representatives of NOS. WAAR and IF concluded that reporting should be more balanced, giving information from all parties. The research proved that very often the Israeli opinion was not presented and no Israeli experts had been consulted.
WAAR and IF announced their intention to continue monitoring the NOS news and – if necessary – to present a new report.
This – necessary – new report concerns the coverage of the Middle East conflict in the period October 23rd – December 31st 2009. Much to our regret we had to conclude that NOS does not follow their own journalistic code. NOS presents the problem as follows: Israel is always wrong, the Palestinians are always right. However the Dutch viewer has the right to see balanced reporting, presenting the facts in the right context.
As the atmosphere in the Netherlands around everything that concerns Israel deteriorates very quickly and taking into account the social consequences, we urge NOS to implement a drastic change.
Up till end of March 2010 this change did not materialize.
Summary of the NOS coverage of developments in Israel
in the period October 23rd till December 31st 2009
In this period there were eleven news items concerning Israel and the Palestinian Territories.
Of these eleven only two deserved the qualification impartial or objective. The other nine were not up to standard and particularly as a result of the commentary they did not meet the NOS journalistic regulations. These nine reports were completely one-sided: mainly Palestinians were interviewed; as a consequence only the Palestinian point of view was mentioned and the Israeli view was mostly absent. Objective Israeli data such as the figures from the recent Israeli report about water were not mentioned. Data from the IMFA-net for the information of foreign reporters were not used. Apart from that the reports often were biased and suggestive by the use of words, images and editing and often provided incorrect or incomplete information. Context was hardly provided or only from the Palestinian point of view. Because of lack of context the actual situation remained unclear for the viewer. Apart from that facts and opinions were not separated, making it even more difficult for the viewer to arrive at his or her own opinion, a forced opinion in most cases because of Sander van Hoorn’s choice of words or his outspoken opinion.
Item concerning water problems: incomplete and incorrect information, one-sided and biased as only the Palestinian view was discussed, suggestive images, lacking context about the origin of the agreements about the distribution of water in the Oslo Agreements.
Item about Al Quds Underground: apart from incomplete information, incorrect and suggestive information, glossing over of the facts and distinct discrimination.
Item about the announcement of Abbas’ stepping down. Mostly suggestive.
Item about victims of the Gaza war according to the Goldstone report. Completely one-sided as only Palestinians were heard, suggestive as all Palestinian opinions were accepted without questioning, suggestive statements (an army researching an army), suggestive about the duration and the reason of the questioning, incorrect information about Minister Verhagen’s point of view, lacking of context of the Goldstone report. Complete lacking of the Israeli opinion, apart from the remark that Israel did not agree.
Remarkable was that four items dealt with the same subject: the building freeze.
Item about building in Gilo. Suggestive language. No context about the status of Gilo.
Item about building despite the building freeze. Once again no distinction between the status of Jerusalem and the West Bank. No explanation about Prime Minister Netanyahu’s difficult position in his cabinet, nor any mention that never before a building freeze like this has been announced. No mention that President Abbas never uses an opportunity to make a gesture, but keeps insisting that everything is too little to start negotiations.
Sander van Hoorn insists that the fact that negotiations did not have any result is only Israel’s fault.
Once again an item about the building freeze. This was mainly a report making it very clear what Sander van Hoorn’s opinion is. Only his opinion, no context, no remark about Mr. Abbas’ rigid position. A lot of suggestive language (settlement, settler). Mr. van Hoorn suggests that the building freeze has only been announced in order to influence the United States to listen to Israel.
Item about the continuation of building, mysteriousness about the location. Suggestive by not mentioning that the building in question is the floor of a synagogue and that the building freeze is not meant for synagogues. The interview with Naomi Baroechi was cut back to one sentence, making her look like an extremist.
Item about Gaza, one year after the war. Mr. van Hoorn repeated the incorrect facts from his January report , stressing incorrect data.
Only two reports from the daily news could be called objective: the news of 11/11 dealing with Minister Lieberman’s visit to the Netherlands and the news of 21/11 showing the disturbance of orthodox citizens after violation of Sjabbat laws.
Much to our regret the conclusion of the second report about the NOS coverage of the Israeli Arab conflict is once again negative. The first report from February dealt with the Gaza war with many journalistic problems and confusion. In the period mentioned above there was no war, there were no restrictions for reporters who had ample time to research a subject. Still we found – once again – incorrect statements, suggestions, one-sidedness, lack of context. We had to conclude that no critical questions have been asked of Palestinians and information from Palestinians and organizations like Amnesty International or organizations who are critical of Israel were always accepted as being true. Israeli sources never were consulted, official Israeli reports were completely ignored. Official Israeli authorities were never heard.
The NOS news from Gaza of December 28th 2009 was bewildering because we could only conclude that our conversation with NOS in April regarding the coverage of the Middle East conflict has not changed anything. The item was a succession of facts, known to be incorrect since a year, facts that were underlined by new incorrect data. This is unacceptable, especially when the correct information is well known.
During our conversation in April we asked if people living in Gaza, like the cameraman El Ajarmi, who was the only one who could move around in Gaza during the war, had to be careful when reporting because of care for their families. The unusually angry reaction when we asked this question (as if we questioned their integrity) is still surprising. The coverage of December 28 did nothing to answer our question.
The coverage of the NOS news of the Israeli Arab conflict has not improved and has not changed since our first report and does not come up to expectations. The coverage does not comply with the NOS Code of Regulations, mentioned in various paragraphs. Consequently NOS does not achieve their objective.
Journalistic code of the NOS News.
(NB our comments are in italics).
NOS aims - as an integral part of the Dutch public broadcasting system – to be the principal source of information in the field of news, sports and events, giving Dutch citizen the means to judge global developments and determine his own conduct.
We concluded that this is not possible: not only is Van Hoorn’s opinion given , but this is done for one-sided and wrong reasons.
NOS employs the highest journalistic criteria of balance, precision, reliability, independence, multi-formity and open-mindedness.
There is no balance at all, nor reliability nor is the news free from prejudice.
NOS aspires to make this information available through all media and for all social levels.
NOS is free in its selection of the news, NOS is only guided by the public interest.
Public interest is certainly not served by the selectivity of the NOS reports about Israel.
NOS separates facts and opinion, listens to all sides and avoids one-sided reporting.
We proved that these qualities are lacking in the NOS broadcasts.
NOS collects information openly, journalists make themselves known, do not pay for information and protect – if necessary – their sources.
During our conversation in April we were not allowed to discuss this subject.
NOS does not discriminate and only mentions ethnic descent, nationality, race, religion and sexual inclination of persons and groups in case this is necessary to understand the facts.
NOS respects the privacy of persons in the news, invasion of this privacy is only accepted if it is necessary in relation to the function of the person in the news.
NOS reports truthfully. Viewers and listeners should be able, using the information given by NOS, to form a real and verifiable picture.
We sincerely doubt this (see our comments above).
NOS deals seriously with complaints and rectifies frankly.
There never was a rectification, even not when NOS received all the correct information.
During our meeting in April Mr. van Hoorn said that “not repeating a fact demonstrated in his view that this fact was incorrect”. We indicated that a rectification would be called for.
NOS is a news organization funded by the government. NOS is devoted to transparency and accountability.
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