BBC News’ Chief Deborah Turness on How Her Organization Is Covering Israel-Hamas War

By Mark Mwachiro 

Profile Picture of BBC News CEO Deborah Turness

Since the start of the Israel-Hamas war, BBC News has been under fire from almost every side regarding its coverage of the conflict.

The news organization has received over 1,500 complaints, split almost evenly between those who feel its coverage favors Israel and those who feel it favors the Palestinians.

Its headquarters in London were sprayed with red paint by a pro-Palestinian group that was protesting its reporting of the war, and the news organization faced considerable heat for not labeling Hamas as a terrorist organization.


Deborah Turness, BBC News CEO, released a lengthy statement on Thursday which covered many areas in regards to how the network has handled itself during this ever-evolving war.

She praised her team: “Over the past few days, we have produced truly powerful coverage from inside Gaza, from Israel, and from the wider region.”

Turness, the one-time president of NBC News, acknowledged criticism of the BBC, saying, “We have faced criticism and complaints that we are biased both for and against Israel, and for and against the Palestinians. We cannot afford to simply say that if both sides are criticising us, we’re getting things right. That isn’t good enough for the BBC or for our audiences.”

She added, “The trust of our audiences must always be our priority – and it’s important that we listen to them. We are constantly monitoring audience feedback on our coverage of this war, and it tells us audiences think the BBC remains the most impartial UK news source. Internationally, we have seen hundreds of millions of people come to BBC News for trusted information in a confusing and chaotic time.”

Turness went on to note how the BBC corrected itself after it wrongly reported that the Al-Ahli hospital was struck by an Israeli air raid, as well as when it “misleadingly described pro-Palestinian demonstrations as ‘demonstrations…during which people voiced their backing for Hamas’.”

“Accepting where we have failed to reach our own high standards is important, and we know it protects trust with audiences who have told us that putting it right when we get it wrong is important to them,” Turness said.

When it came to how the news organization describes Hamas, she remarked, “When we mention Hamas, we make it clear, where possible, that they are a proscribed terrorist organisation by the UK government and others.”

Turness concluded the statement by saying that the BBC is “listening and responding as we cover this war,” and understands the need for information that is accurate and reporting that is trustworthy.

She finished off with a pledge first coined by the New York Times’ Adolph S. Ochs, but adding her own spin to it that the BBC will continue “to work without fear or favour and report what we see.”