RTÉ Responds


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RTE wishes to clarify that the news report on Wednesday 23 July 2014 did not misinterpret or misrepresent the views of a woman featured within the footage from Gaza.

The pictures and information featured in the report were received by RTÉ from the European Broadcasting Union’s news service. The material contained pictures of a woman with a lengthy sequence of her shouting in the street. The woman begins by referring to children dying, but she then goes on to say that she is ready to wear an explosive jacket and join the fight.

The voiceover on the report was not intended to be a direct translation. The reporter was paraphrasing the woman’s view – clearly stated in the information RTÉ received – that she was ready to resist the Israeli offensive. There was no attempt on RTÉ’s part to misconstrue the woman’s message or any intention to cause confusion. 

The following is information received by RTÉ accompanying the footage:

Date Shot: 23-JUL-2014
Location: GAZA
Sound: NATURAL   Language: ARABIC

Various parts of Gaza streets are under the rubble. A four storey building collapsed last night leaving more victims among defenseless civilians. EPTV camera was there the moment the building turned into dust.

Shotlist of EPTV correspondent in the street along with residents.

10:27:54:09 Forward zoom of building collapsing live next to ambulance.
10:28:09:22 SOUNDBITE (Arabic), male resident: “There’s one dead their with a severed head, we also found a dead little girl. Down there, we found a dead woman and the corpses of three little girls around her.”
10:28:25:04 – VS of the survivor being rescued
10:28:29:09 – VS of ambulances rushing in the wounded to hospital
10:28:42:24 SOUNDBITE (Arabic), woman in shock and awe shouting: “Four to five children die every single day, where are you people? …a four-storey building fell on their heads, it is horrific, Allah is great, there’s no god but Allah and Mohamed his prophet.”
10:28:57:20 SOUNDBITE (Arabic), woman crying out in despair: ” Stop the war, stop the truce, never say Hamas, never say Fatah, just say Nation of Allah. Listen to me all, I am ready to wear the explosive jacket and joint our fighters…all our children are dying…”
10:29:27:13 – Close of dead teenager wrapped in shroud
10:29:34:05 – GVs of crowd holding stretcher down the street

RTÉ News Report on Gaza broadcast 23 July 2014 (RTE)

Previously: Dear RTÉ

103 thoughts on “RTÉ Responds

  1. Jesus Doody

    She actually said that the weather was after taking a turn for the worse and she was going to put on her jacket because she was dying from the cold

      1. Mark Dowling

        A lot of people land on that piece from direct links in social media rather than the homepage – it was how I got there. Without linking to the response, one can assume RTE had nothing to say. Linking to the response would not have been an endorsement of RTE’s position on the issue. Creating a separate page gives the impression that Broadsheet just did it for metrics.

        But let’s by all means take your well considered opinion as the final word, “jungleman”/Anonymous Coward.

        1. PK

          Mark, did you have a few drinks on board when you wrote that there? Just wondering cos it says 4:30am on your message.

        2. jungleman

          I’m no coward, but you definitely are a tosser. What the hell do you care why BS posted twice? How does it affect you? Are you on a jobbridge in RTE or something? Why don’t you leave them to stand up for themselves and go get a life..

  2. jungleman

    The question is, why did they choose to refer to her statement about strapping on a bomb and not her statement about the children dying. Did they do so on the basis of an editorial slant?

    1. LiamZero

      I think a woman of her age feeling so angry and despairing that she feels she is reduced to that level of reaction against Israel is noteworthy. It doesn’t paint her as a brainwashed reactionary, it shows the desperation she feels.
      Bashing RTÉ over this is frankly a bit ridiculous. Initially it seemed they screwed up, but they explained how the confusion came about. Do you think someone should be fired over this reporting outrage? Would that sate your impotent fury?

        1. LiamZero

          Yeah, impotent fury is pushing it, sorry. I just assume most of the comments on here are written in that tone.

      1. SOMK

        On that clip she speaks just over 70 words, RTE chose the 12 words she says that mention violence and cutout the other words of her talking about and explaining her suffering, which would give her call to violence some context. If I was an editor and I wanted to show her in a negative light, the Israelis in a positive light, that’s what I’d do, that fact that RTÉ made a mistake in doing that, could be seen as a sign of them acting thoughtlessly, a freudian slip.

        I don’t think people working in RTE think their biased, but I suspect they have a certain ideology that fits in with RTÉ, of “two sides equally wrong” (which is the default centre-right position), which is cute and all, but difficult to back up when you’re getting in the footage, so like with when buying a newspaper you choose the one that most closely represents your world view, you edit footage, you pick the clip that most represents your reality, deluding yourself that you’re telling “the truth” because you know “how it really works”. And if your world view is “there’s two sides to this conflict” well when one side has troops, tanks, and airplanes, and the other is getting blown to bits, maybe you feel you have to edit the footage a bit to reveal your/the truth.

        It’s not about firing someone (and if anyone were to get fired it would hardly change anything, it would be the mistake that’d be punished not the ideology behind it), it’s a freudian slip that (possibly) shows how RTÉ news works, at a time when RTÉ are on the verge of getting a massive income boost, you now effectively have no choice to to pay your television licence on pain of imprisonment, not owning a television isn’t a get out because it’s assumed if you have a smartphone you’re using it to access RTÉ.

        RTÉ will certainly claim to be unbiased in their reporting, and would probably cite “there are two sides to the story”, but that in itself is an ideology, besides there’s always more than two sides to any story that involves more than two people.

        1. LiamZero

          Rather appropriately, your comment would be so much clearer if it went through an editor’s hands before you had posted it.
          Yes, it would be nice if we could have 16-hour news bulletins, where every context and nuance of every story was thrashed out, but for some reason we don’t. So not putting that woman’s comment in context is, to my reading, acceptable. Is the absolute horror in her gestures and tones not context enough? She’s clearly suffered some enormous loss and feels utter desperation. News reports are by their nature distillations of the situation as the reporter sees it. They are often broad brushstrokes.
          Regardless, I don’t believe there is any Freudian slip here, and just because that report doesn’t precisely reflect what you personally feel doesn’t mean there’s some big scary evil subconscious agenda behind it. It just seems to me people are getting a real hard-on for the opportunity to bash RTE here.

          1. AmeliaBedelia

            “So not putting that woman’s comment in context is, to my reading, acceptable”. No, not acceptable. The transcript provided makes it very clear which piece of footage went with what particular translation. Arabic-speaking journalists not required and EBU not to blame. Part of RTE News’ stated mission is to “be responsible, respectful, honest and accountable to one another and to our audiences”. I suggest they live up to those promises and not insult the intelligence of their viewers. Props to commenter who referenced Chomsky’s propaganda model yesterday; it appears that structurally and institutionally systemic bias is at play as opposed to any round-table conspiracy to obfuscate.

    2. PK

      An editorial slant? That’s ridiculous. If anything RTE have been quite slanted towards Palestine over the years. The dead children were mentioned in another part of the report and the woman’s comment about the bomb was included (I would imagine) to strongly reflect the anger she was feeling at the time.

      1. jungleman

        Her comments about the dead children are not mentioned in another part of the clip. It is not ridiculous to query whether there was an editorial choice made to mention one statement and not the other. It is the obvious and most reasonable question. I’m not jumping to conclusions on this at all, but RTE can certainly be accused of taking an editorial slant when it comes to reporting home politics and it is therefore reasonable to question their motives on this one.

        1. PK

          I really don’t think the Irish public need persuading that what is going on in gaza is awful and israel are making a mess of it.

        2. Sam

          RTE’s coverage is dreadfully slanted, and having watched their ‘editorial shenanigans’ before, It’s not just incompetence. These churnalists pr*cks know what’s expected of them.

      2. Sam

        If anything RTE have been quite slanted towards Palestine over the years.

        Care to cite some examples?

  3. catherine

    Yes of course they did so for a slant and for a purpose… Well to them it is a purpose, Ireland had a vote of abstinence and now they are trying everything (including attacks like this) to convince themselves and try to convince us, the viewers as to why?!

    Well it hasn’t worked, it has backfired and I for one will watch sky news from now on….

    1. pixel_pimp

      sky news… where the reporter picks through personal belongings at a crash site… that sky news or another one?

      people make mistakes – get over it and focus on stopping the slaughter.

    2. PK

      I remember when a Sky news reporter faked a missile launch on a Navy ship. Unfortunately the same reporter took his own life when he was found out. My point here is that you are being ridiculous and RTE didn’t even make an error. The footage is there, on record.

  4. Friscondo

    Reb””” The dead and mutilated children of Gaza must be furious with this confusion. Sometimes I just flipping despair.

  5. Ita

    What do RTE reporters do to earn their wage?. Can you not check out stories for yourselves instead of relying on the corporate crap? Have to say I gave up listening to RTE’s local bullshit years ago. Their credibility just continues to plummet. Thank God for the internet.

    1. PK

      Local bullshit? So you’d rather read about the NHS online on an English website? The BBC don’t even have Ireland on the weather map. If RTE had a reporter in Gaza to avoid using news wires, then there would be ten million angry comments here about wasting licence fee etc…

      1. Owen

        Interestingly, I was watching a Vice News report from Ukraine, some guy was giving a statement in the middle of nowhere in Donetsk and up pops an green microphone with RTE on it. So they have someone there.

    1. SOMK

      I wonder if this constitutes breaking Godwin’s law by proxy, considering the implication in saying “you don’t like jews”, which was an acceptable kind of racism until 1945 and the world found out about the incomprehensible ‘the final solution’, the obvious inference being “you are a Nazi”, and if history, Hollywood, TV and computer games has taught us anything is that the Nazis are pure evil and wrong about everything (except how to build rockets, robot zombies and speak English in an OTT German accent).

      The reason there is such as thing as Godwin’s law is that there is an inevitability in internet thread for someone to ‘play the Hitler card’ it’s also hyperbolic, it’s not an argument, it’s just a cheap way or saying “you’re wrong”, cheap in that it invokes the deaths of millions and in lazily and unthingkingly doing so, you cheapen those deaths. So not only is it bad rhetoric, it’s amoral too.

      Incidentally anti-Semitism as a term was invented by the Nazis as a more ‘scientific’ way of describing their hate, also there was a train of though in the Nazis hierarchy that zionism was the solution to the jewish problem (Eichmann, the father of the holocaust, for example was assigned to investigate zionism, he contacted zionists, visited Palestine in 1937).

      So in other words inferring people who are critical of Israeli policy towards Gaza are all somehow inherently anti-Semitic is rhetorically, logically, morally, historically and politically illiterate, which must be a first in the history of the internet for user who’s name is an Ayn Rand reference.

      1. shitferbrains

        Anti-Semitism wasn’t a term invented by the Nazis. It preceded the Nazis by about 70 + years. And the best answer to the question is criticism of Israel anti-semitic was given by the late professor Norman Geras. No it isn’t. Except when it is.

      2. Atlas

        “So in other words inferring people who are critical of Israeli policy towards Gaza are all somehow inherently anti-Semitic is rhetorically, logically, morally, historically and politically illiterate, which must be a first in the history of the internet for user who’s name is an Ayn Rand reference.”


        Relax, I was only messing.

  6. Der

    There’s probably no one in the news room that speaks Arabic so they just picked a section of video and hoped for the best. I don’t think there’s any conspiracy, I just think they couldn’t be bothered.

  7. Deirdre

    In the response above it clearly states that all the info. they needed came WITH the footage incl. time markers so they could have used the correct clip – note however that the notes clearly state that when this distraught mother/grandmother is talking about dead children and then about fighting her body language (described in the notes) is different – shock and awe vs. despair. I suspect the editor wanted the visual from one clip with the text of the other.
    At any rate she IS misrepresented since her comments are not given in her context.
    Actually the child deaths are about 24 every day not 4 or 5, so she is more likely describing her local kids – ones she knows/sees –
    Imagine for a moment 4 children in your community dying every day – every day for 3 weeks…what would you SAY if someone then stuck a camera in your face in the midst of your heartrending grief…what would you DO…?

  8. Ronald Farber

    Let me explain this in news terms. The syndicated comment is packaged and fed down to RTE. This is for cost reasons. RTE has reviewed what is available and the editor has confirmed that this is an appropriately ‘shouty arab’.

    There is probably a white Israeli spokesperson with a European accent somewhere for ‘balance’. They will appear reasoned and civilised, in sharp contrast to ‘shouty arab’.

    If you have a look at the image editing in the IT today, you’ll see a similar policy. Close, slightly sinister shots of angry people.

    Anyway, back to the ‘shouty arab’. The message RTE want to get out is one of aggression against a defensive Israel. They messed up because the bit where she asks where the international community is a better fit to the segment, but they needed to get the ‘shouty arab’ part of it, so they cherry picked the appropriate part of the supplied translation.

    They didn’t have the language skills or the motivation to get it right – they just needed to keep shitting out the same propaganda line.

    So fuck you RTE, you’ll never see a licence fee from me, because I don’t pay to have govt propaganda forced on me. If RTE can’t even pretend to do journalism effectively, I don’t see why I should pay my licence in anything other than Monopoly money or poker chips.

    Once more. Fupp you RTE, you are an operation of doodlybags, and anyone with any talent fupped off to the UK or further afield years ago.

    BTW Fupp you RTE.

    1. Nigel

      Or, to put it a different way, they will juxtapose a women in a fit of grief and anger and fear in despair in the middle of a bloody battleground with a smooth government mouthpiece giving justifications and rationalisations utterly removed from the horror they’re causing.

    2. shitferbrains

      Why are Israelis presumed to be ” white “, given that about half of them are from Arab countries ? Racist twaddle.

      1. Ronald Farber

        I didn’t say all Israelis are white. Your pro-Israel tinted glasses got in the way of reality, but it’s probably not the first time.

        The spokespeople are overwhelming white, with accents familiar to the target demographic. Find me a BBC or mainstream US interview where the Israeli spokesperson isn’t white.

        This makes the propaganda slide down more easily. No suggestion of ‘the other’. That’s reserved for the Palestinian. What she says, and I have independently confirmed this with my Arabic speaking friends:

        Everyday four kids dying, everyday five kids dying, where is the world? Where is the religion? Five floors falling over our heads.

        If you’re looking for racism, count the dead Palestinians. If you’re looking for racists, see who killed them. They’re the ones with the biggest military behind them and the sorrowful faces.

        BTW, thx to the mod team for publishing my comment with a few ‘fupps’ in there. It needed the edit.

        1. Jason

          Just saying,

          “Find me a BBC or mainstream US interview where the Israeli spokesperson isn’t white.”

          Christiane Amanpour
          Chief International Correspondent for CNN and host of CNN International’s nightly interview program Amanpour. Amanpour is also a Global Affairs Anchor of ABC News.

  9. Small Wonder

    Imagine a news story about a house fire

    Voice over: “This family say they are lucky to be alive”
    Homeowner: “…It all happened so fast…”


    Voice over: “This family say they are lucky to be alive”
    Homeowner: “We are lucky to be alive…”

    If all reporting was done the second way your brains would have turned to mush long ago. You get more information out of method 1. Granted, fupp all people in Ireland speak Arabic. But I’m sure RTE are aware that some do.

    It’s really not worth getting your knickers in a twist over.

    1. ahyeah

      You don’t seem to understand how it works around here, so listen up: RTE is a far-right, homophobic, ultra-Catholic malevolent organisation that makes whopping big donations to fund the Iona Institute’s Campaign of Terror Against The Gays. So it behoves us to grab every opportunity that arises to further confirm RTE’s incompetence and bias. Any reasonable explanation that gives no cause for outrage is to be rejected. Got it?

        1. ahyeah

          So now you’re saying that I’m over-the-top flamboyant, dramatic and prone to take offense at the first opportunity!?! How about you keep your homophobic stereotyping to yourself.

    2. Huppenstop

      You have some licence when the VT is in English. I think it’s different when the VT is in another language, in which case I believe there is a tacit understanding that the reporter is summarising what the person is saying, in translation.

  10. John

    Imo it’s still not acceptable and the “yeah, so what, here” attitude of some people in RTE is worrying, the response to people querying what is clearly not a correct translation is “here we go again”.

    No, get it right and there won’t be anybody querying it ffs.

  11. Pablo Pistachio

    Looks like all those years of being lobbied by the far right over in the US finally paid off for them.Nice bit of propaganda there Carole. Everyone has their price.

    1. Ronald Farber

      She just says what RTE hand her.

      That’s the criteria for selection for the job.

  12. Blah

    You mean to say that the cause of a Big Social Media Storm actually has a reasonable explanation?

    Surely not.

  13. Huppenstop

    It recalls an incident a number of years ago when a composite image from some conflict was used on (I think) the front page of the LA Times. It showed (if I remember correctly) a number of Iraqis cowering as they tried to move away from a soldier. The photographer in question had taken a number of shots in quick succession and had merged elements from two to make a single dramatic image. He was fired and the paper issued a full apology and retraction of the images. I don’t think it’s enough for RTÉ to say that the woman does say the words attributed to her in another clip that wasn’t shown in the report. There may not be a sinister agenda behind this story, but it’s bad journalism. I can’t see how RTÉ could deny that this report doesn’t seriously misrepresent this woman and distorts her words. To simply offer a transcript “proving” she spoke the words elsewhere is horsesh!t, as the original report clearly implied that she is saying it in the clip that was broadcast.

    1. PK

      It didn’t clearly imply she was saying it, it was a summary of what she was saying. The clip came from the European Broadcasting Union, it’s there on record, go and ask them for a copy if you’re so worried.

      1. WhoAreYa

        It didn’t ‘imply’ – it reported that part of the comment but did not broadcast the audio.

        The question you should be asking PK and which most reasonable people here would be asking is what editorial or public interest was served by choosing to highlight that most extreme part of the woman’s commentary as the ‘summary’ while juxtaposing with the other imagery? May people form their own judgement but I believe most reasonable people would realise that this framing institutes a particular slant that is at worst, biased towards the woman as it misrepresents her position, and at best, unethical because it implied that her ONLY respose to that event was to seek to strap on an explosive-filled vest.

        1. Nigel

          Well, perhaps so people can understand how people in such situations can be driven to acts of violence most of us would regard as unthinkable. And if the fundamental lesson of all this isn’t how violence breeds violence, I don’t know that it is.

          1. WhoAreYa

            Yes perhaps but even so then the framing and juxtaposition is amateurish.

            As indeed was the general tenor of Coleman’s much ‘heralded’ (by some) interview with Bush in which Ifelt she came across as being rude and obnoxious overall. I think it is a harder card to play myself but I prefer the Frost soft-soap style of interview because I think you will catch more with honey than vinegar.

          2. Nigel

            Oh yeah, people demand challenging and confrontational interviews, and they almost never actually work.

  14. Deirdre

    original broadcast

    As you can see the clip of the woman is being used in support of the definite (not at all vague) opinion that ‘hamas are the only bad guys’ … the report begins and ends with hamas refuse to stop.

    there is some reporting of the possibility that maybe the israeli bombardment (6000 tonnes of bombs in 14 days) has killed some kids (3here-2there)and maybe possibly they are not avoiding civilians as they could.

    The house getting blown to hell killed 4 children and a woman (according to the transcript rte provided)

    I would submit that the full clip is ample demonstration the israeli bombardment is not trying to avoid civilian targets (as required by int’l law) and casualties , as is the death toll.

    The average age in gaza is 17…why?

  15. Any Other Business.

    Having worked in the news bureau of pretty major international TV news organisation with a London bureau, I would say that it would be standard practice that the journalist or producer who is overseeing the piece to understand the languages that are part of feed (bee it Reuteurs AP etc) Ie some who speaks german producers a package on the german elections. Having a additional language (or two) is a major part of the job.

    It’s incredible that RTE didn’t have a Arabic speaker on duty at least scan the footage (most EU/AP Reuteurs feeds barely last 5 minutes). But having seen RTE TV in action up close I’m not surprised by the incompetence.

  16. Jackdaw

    It’s clear what she’s saying
    1. In the first clip she is saying that it’s the fault of Denis O’Brien, Shell and the Gardai.
    2. In the second clip she clearly says that she doesn’t know what a tracker mortgage is!!

  17. Elizabeth Mannion

    RTE need to realise that news reporting has to be balanced and not weight heavy on either side so the public are given a neutral point of view! Desperate people, in desperate situations, will do desperate things to save themselves and their families. It is better to die fighting than be murdered…they have nothing to loose….they are being murdered anyway! Shame on RTE for not giving a balanced news report!

  18. Evelyn

    Err… If RTE stands for Radio Telefís Eireann, then there should not be a fada on the E! … just saying…

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