This capacity to shape the public consciousness should give media practitioners pause. Journalists and editors have a penchant, for example, of adding contextual paragraphs explaining the background to breaking news events to their audience that tend to fall back on cliches and accepted conventional wisdom. This has the effect of shaping the overall narrative around an event before all the evidence has come to the fore.
In reality, media leads to gradual change through the gradual accumulation of data, anecdotes and imagery that ultimately shapes how society perceives certain actors, whether they are people or nation-states.
Readers will read every word, however long. The reader’s short attention span is a myth, as we found: Their disinterest is in the content they’re being fed, not in the important stories themselves.
In addition to state and religious authorities in the region, one of the most insidious actors is local media. While some websites and news agencies are easy to dismiss by those of us who get their information from more reliable and professional media outlets, they still are very influential and harmful.
Throughout those two unforgettable weeks, I kept repeating to myself: This must be how it feels for journalists moving here from abroad to report on Lebanon and neighboring countries.
Some argue that over-reporting terrorist attacks plays into their hands by amplifying the message. But we also need to understand the insidious threat of the far right, and we can do so only by paying attention to their words.
How far can we go in intruding upon the misery of someone who has just gone through a tragic event? Is it always OK for us to rush to accept someone's consent to be filmed or recorded when they have just been through a tremendous shock?