The BBC has offered extra support to staff who are facing abuse and attacks, and finding their mental health suffering over the corporation’s coverage of the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Last week saw the BBC’s London headquarters vandalised with red paint by a pro-Palestinian protest group, which accused the broadcaster of having “blood on its hands” over its Israel-Hamas coverage.
An email seen by Deadline was sent to all the staff working in BBC News and Current Affairs from the Chief Operating Officer Sam Taylor, who wrote:
“As we approach nearly two weeks of covering the Israel-Gaza conflict, I’d like to share more information on the support available for individuals and teams, including those working day-to-day with the harrowing content, footage and testimony from the region.
“I know from my experience working on upsetting, running news stories over the years that you can be doing fine, but sometimes that can change, and you need a bit more help or to talk things through.
“So, in addition to the staff sessions and resources already available, our Safety and Mental Health specialists are offering more targeted support where needed. Below are details on what’s on offer, and I would encourage you to consider making use of any of these resources.”
Resources offered include:
- Individual trauma support
- Team sessions on distressing content, with professional support
- Further trauma awareness sessions
- Online guidance and support
- Reporting abuse
The BBC and its staff have faced increasing pressure over the past fortnight for its coverage of the conflict in the Middle East. Some staff have reported receiving personal abuse. The Guardian quotes a BBC insider saying “it is proving really stressful” facing the additional “rage” at the BBC’s coverage, as “it’s stressful enough reporting on the [conflict] because … it’s appalling.”
The broadcaster confirmed it will be reducing its use of the word “militants” to describe Hamas. It has been defending its decision not to use the word “terrorists” for the organisation. Its director-general Tim Davie will attend Parliament this week where he will answer questions from MPs on the corporation’s coverage.