Jul 26, 2006

'The curse of democracy'

Arab journalists cavil at having to interview Israelis regarding the war in Lebanon.
"There are times when I am forced to suppress a voice that rises within me, and which wants me to tell the Israeli interviewee: shut your mouth, you barefaced liar," says Mai al-Sharabani, a newscaster on the Al-Arabiya network, in an interview with Ibrahim Totanji, a reporter for Al-Hayat, the Arabic-language newspaper published in London.

"The newscaster has to always be ready to make the Israeli interviewee uncomfortable, to pin him down in the narrow alleys of his lies," declares al-Sharabani, who began her career at Egyptian television, from which she moved three years ago to the Al-Arabiya network. The problem is that you don't have enough time to prepare for interviews with "the Israeli," and events dictate both the pace and the length of the interviews, explains al-Sharabani.

Nevertheless, when they simply can't restrain themselves any longer, the newscasters have at their disposal those precious final seconds of the interview, in which they can make a venomous remark that will not garner any response by the interviewee, for the simple reason that it is the end of the conversation.
And the rules for reporting this was have changed, too. And their audience doesn't like it.
The terminology closely reflects the diplomatic consensus reached between Mubarak, King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia and King Abdullah of Jordan. Because they consider Hezbollah to be the source of all evil, any war against it cannot take on the air of an Arab war against Israel. But what is even more vexing is what is seen as the apathy of television stations outside Lebanon to what is going on in the country.

Again, the Egyptian stations are the main target of criticism, because of the excessively brief news coverage they offer about Lebanon and the fact that they have not, so far, adjusted their broadcast schedule to the war. "It's as if no Arab country was being attacked. As if there is no war here," read an e-mail to the Web site of a station in the Persian Gulf. Another writer wondered how the Lebanese satellite TV station, LBC, terms those who have been killed in Israel by Katyushas "victims," and why Lebanese civilians killed by Israeli bombs are termed either "victims" or "casualties," but not shahids [martyrs].

Thanks to SP for the link.

No comments: