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Fatal Mishaps - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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The day was one of bloodshed and mayhem…

Various fronts of the Iraqi-Palestinian-Lebanese triangle had erupted, signaling a serious deterioration in the situation. Satellite and terrestrial television were caused much confusion last Thursday and a pressing professional question surfaced: what should be the focus of the news coverage?

Should it have been the Samarra explosion and the new blaze of infighting in Iraq? Or should it have been the events in Gaza and the escalation of internal Palestinian infighting that took place in an unprecedented manner that reached an extent that these events were considered liberation?

Otherwise, should it have been the Beirut bombing that claimed the lives of Mustaqbal MP Walid Eido and a number of citizens that aimed at escalating the situation owing to its timing, location of the bombing and the targeted figure?

Such events are capable of creating confusion for any media whether it is satellite or local media. And with events such as these, for which various channels compete to cover live on air, it is inevitable that mishaps would take place here and there.

Media coverage of these three events reflects a constant deficiency in our sensitivity towards uncontainable situations of this kind.

The situation in Iraq continues to be a numerical subject in terms of the number of victims whilst sectarian bias was apparent in the way that some media dealt with the incident. The Iraqi event had driven all parties to its sectarian confinement and this was more than apparent in the approach that was taken in tackling the event. On the Palestinian level, the alarming escalation of infighting in Gaza and the violent scenes reported by different channels only rarely raised an actual sense of criticism. The approach that was taken regarding Palestinian infighting, which had claimed the lives of civilians including Palestinian women and children and caused public liquidation of individuals as well as direct destruction of public property that all appeared before the camera lenses and under the slogan “liberation of Gaza”, was poor to a shameful extent.

Violent images were not material for actual criticism of the calamity that Palestinians had fallen into, which in some cases, clearly exceeded the violence that Israel carried out against the Palestinians.

In coverage of the Lebanese explosion, the most remarkable event involved a Lebanese TV presenter for one of the local channels affiliated to opposition forces.

The voice of the presenter was clearly heard as she laughed and gloated at the murder of Lebanese MP Walid Eido and wished a similar fate for another MP. She finally added, “I’m counting them off”. It does not suffice to know that the presenter was expelled immediately from work so that we would disregard the issue of similar comments. Besides, this incident should not be tackled as though it is a one-off because similar slips of the tongue reveal the magnitude of hatred that certain groups feel towards others. All parties find themselves in a similar predicament from which they cannot escape. The events in Iraq, Gaza and Lebanon and how the media tackles these issues take us back to the equation of our victims and theirs.

When murder and violence are considered a justified means of change, when we turn a blind eye to violent practices and have these events blacked out since they are carried out by ourselves, this means that our sense of humanity and our stance towards the principle of refusing to eliminate the other or target them becomes a confused and weak one.

Regardless of how reluctant parties, nationalists and religious extremists elaborate on minor and major conspiracies, the essence of the catastrophe remains hidden in our weakness and the fact that we struggle amongst ourselves let alone others.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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