Saturday, July 9, 2011

A revealing admission and a revealing question

On Thursday, we linked to a video of the 2009 Reuters-hosted symposium on media in the Middle East, which excluded any Israeli participants.

At 28:15 of the video, Nakhle el Hage, Director of News and Current Affairs at Al Arabiya, notes that by and large, Arab media takes a short-term approach to winning audiences:
We tell people what they want to hear.  If they want to see pictures of massacres, we show them.  If they want us to tell them that any Arab or Muslim killed in any part of the world, even if he or she are terrorists, are martyrs, also we can win the people.
Later, at 40:53, el Hage goes on to explain that Arab media has a "big problem" in that their audience is "very emotional" and has been "trained" since the time they were children to adopt a cause, to have an enemy and to believe that the media should be part of the political campaign against that enemy.  He notes that Arab audiences watching conflicts like the 2006 war in Lebanon and the 2008 war in Gaza behave like spectators at a football match who want to see more blood and more fighting and that media firms which offer this, like Al Arabiya, successfully increase the size of their audience.  To this, Caroline Drees, currently Reuters Managing Editor for the Middle East and Africa, asks:
Why is it a problem?  Who are we to educate the audience of what they should want?
El Hage is compelled to explain to Drees that they are in the news industry and should give people the news, not football matches.

Judging by the bias and cheerleading endemic to Reuters Middle East reporting, it's obvious Drees wasn't listening.

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