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Journalism, History and War: Sit, Type and Bleed

By       Message Ramzy Baroud       (Page 1 of 3 pages)     Permalink

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From Palestine Chronicle

From en.wikipedia.org: The history of the region of Palestine {MID-133061}
The history of the region of Palestine
(Image by en.wikipedia.org)
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The typical newsroom set-up, where journalists chase headlines dictated by some centralized news gathering agency -- often based in some western capital -- does not suffice any more.

In the case of the Middle East, the news narrative has been defined by others and dictated on Arab journalists and audiences for far too long.

This hardly worked in the past but, in the last a few years, it has become even more irrelevant and dangerous.

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There are millions of victims throughout the Middle East region, numerous bereaved families, constant streams of refugees and a human toll that cannot be understood or expressed through typical media narration: a gripping headline, couple of quotes and a paragraph or two by way of providing context.

The price is too high for this kind of lazy journalism. There is too much at stake for journalism not to be fundamentally redefined by those who are experiencing war, understand the pulse of the region, fathom the culture and speak the language of the people.

The Arab people have, indeed, spoken and, for years, their words were filled with anger and hope. The haunting cries of Syrians and other Arab nations will forever define the memories of this generation and the next.

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But how much is our journalism today a reflection of this reality? This harrowing, blood-soaked reality?

American author and journalist, Ernest Hemingway, once wrote, "There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed."

But modern journalism -- at least, the way it is communicated in the Middle East at the moment -- hardly bleeds. Under the guise of false objectivity, it remains detached, removed from its immediate reality and is rarely expressive of the seriousness of this difficult transition of our history.

The truth is, however, journalism has not failed. We did. We are the ones still unable to appreciate the gravity of what has befallen our region and, by extension, the world at large. We are the ones still singing the praises of the elites and defending the interests of the few.

As for the people, if we do not neglect them altogether, then we turn their misery into fodder in our political feuds.

Equally inexcusable, we pay little attention to history as if the most significant component of our story is the least relevant one.

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It is no secret that orientalist history still defines the way that history is written in the Middle East and about the Middle East. We should reject that, not only as a matter of principle, but also because it is both impractical and false.

This orientalist depiction has afflicted journalism, as well. Why do we allow others to define who we are when we are in the most urgent need to define ourselves?

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Ramzy Baroud is the Managing Editor of Middle East Eye. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of PalestineChronicle.com. His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza's Untold (more...)
 

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