The Other Side of the Equation
27 April '11
Everyone is talking about how facebook and twitter have made the revolutions in the Middle-East possible. While this is true, does it have anything to do with the fact that most journalists today are just too scared to do their job?
In a way, many journalists have become numb. They pretend to fight for the right to knowledge, for freedom of information and for freedom of speech, but do they actually do it?
Most journalists today have too much to lose. In Syria, for example, the government gave a distinct order not to allow any reports of its murderous actions in Dara and in Doma. Foreign journalists that are stationed in Syria are familiar with the rules: if you insist on covering the bloodshed in the streets, or reporting anything that is not authorized by the government, you’ll get arrested. And if you think getting arrested in Syria is anything like being read your rights on police TV shows, you are dead wrong. Getting arrested in a country like Syria means disappearing, and not necessarily living to tell about it.
In the past decade, with terror spreading like a disease, being a brave journalist who seeks the truth above all and defies ruthless autocracies, is equivalent to being suicidal. Ask Daniel Perlman, or Lara Logan.
So how does the information spill out? Most of it doesn’t. We hardly know anything about what really goes on in these darl countries. And what about the information that does manage to make its way out about the Arab revolutions? In Syria, for instance, the revolutionaries themselves found the way to smuggle photos and videos through cities that border with neighboring countries, in which they have access to the Internet.
This is great, of course, but what does it actually mean about the position of traditional journalism in today’s world?
Today’s journalists are more careful. Most of them would rather not risk their lives for attaining information, or for uncovering the horrifying truths, the kind that could get your throat slit. On the other hand, they really don’t want to admit that they are reporting from their comfort zone. So what do they do? They pretend to be brave. They round up big stories with information that they find in countries that it’s safe to report about. Yes, they find great big stories about the democracies of this world. The problem is that the atrocious stories remain hidden, for the comfort of the autocratic leaders, and also for the comfort of the majority of journalists who just want to get home safely at the end of the day.
So it is the people who have taken the place of the brave journalists, willing to risk their lives for some truth. Why? Because considering their situation, they have nothing to lose.
Yes, I’m a journalist too. Would I risk my life for a piece of truth? That’s a good question. My answer would probably be no. I have two kids and they’re more important to me than risking my life in order to expose the murderous ways of the autocratic Arab regimes.
But at least I’m not trying to pretend to be what I’m not.
Too many of the international journalists stationed in the region are also afraid, but they’re too ashamed. So they pretend to be brave. It’s easy for them to attain lots of information about Israel, being an open, democratic country that doesn’t endanger them. But it’s much harder to find truths about the Palestinian leaders, most of which are corrupt, barbaric and murderous. It’s also very hard to find truths about the autocratic leaders in countries that hate Israel and wish for its destruction, like Syria, like Hezbollah in Lebanon, and like Iran. And the result? A twisted reality that is reported to the world every day, putting the focus on the ones that are a lot less dangerous and will not hurt you if you tell the truth.
So how is the world to know the truth about the terror the Palestinians live in, because of the Hamas ruling in Gaza, that will lynch, cut off organs or slay children without even blinking? The code of silence about life in Gaza and the true face of Hamas has not been broken yet. Should we expect this to be initiated by the journalists of the major news channels and papers? Probably not. I guess we’ll just have to wait for the tweeting to begin from there.
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