The lost cause of the media

I don’t understand why the media is supposed to have “a cause” that surpasses all other causes. Mustaqbal buildings were burnt down by SSNP men (in retaliation for what they did with their offices a couple of month ago). The same night we saw Mustaqbal’s employees crying on TV saying that they were not sectarian but that this attack made them sectarian. Al Haqid summarizes well why these claims are bullshit.

The next day, even Al Akhbar was condemning the attack of the building on the ground that we should not impinge on the freedom of the press. What the hell is this liberal value that these groups are erecting? So Al Akhbar finds it normal that killings are happening when it is on the loyalist side but when it is a journalist, a journalist has no party, color, texture. A journalist is like an angel that should stay untouched.

Journalist, and as a matter of fact any producer of information or knowledge is irremediably the quintessence of party engagement. He/she is the direct formulator of political ideology. He should be the primary target of perceived enemies. This double standard played by the press, this weird self-erected business/social code that the press brandish among its targeted audience is at most obscene if not totally denying of the realities it lives in. What more bourgeois can you get?

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8 Responses to The lost cause of the media

  1. yaman says:

    This coloration of the figure of the journalist as a protected class, of course, is all premised on the myth, like others, that journalism is an objective practice that is concerned with identifying, collecting, and transmitting facts, and therefore one who attacks journalists is attacking the pursuit of truths.

    Journalists should be no more immune to attacks on their person than other people, but you’ve identified well one of the main features of liberal thought: the creation of abstract subjects who possess abstract rights and abstract capabilities, at the expense of actual persons with actual rights and actual capabilities.

  2. Bech says:

    I could not say it better! Thanks for the judicious formulation.

  3. M (the other one) says:

    Well and good, but there is another perspective couched in an understanding that there is no such thing as objective media, and that is that the shutting down of Hariri media creates disquiet even with sympathizers of Hezb. Virtually every media organisation in Lebanon is an organ of a sectarian militia that claims to represent its constituency. However fallacious this claim is, and however much the people have been conditioned to see these organs as legitimate representation, it has been tattooed on the collective Lebanese brain and I would argue that the most disquieting thing about this action is how it is interpreted by elements of the Lebanese population, and how it can be manipulated to further alienate and divide along sectarian lines the population or vindicate the hysterical claims of the warlords we call the Lebanese govt.

  4. Anna says:

    I also agree that “objective journalism” is an oxymoron or some kind of bad joke, but technically, or at least in theory, journalists are supposed to be providing a valuable function in society and perhaps that’s why they get special treatment. Some of them are very concerned with getting stories out to the public and risk their lives to do so; others are more concerned with getting themselves on TV, sensationalizing a story so it gets more airtime, or promoting their own point of view.

    But, as another Lebanese blogger pointed out, the workers of Sukleen also perform a valuable function in society, and they get very little special treatment. (see http://www.landandpeople.blogspot.com)

    “Jailing or killing a journalist removes a vital witness to events and threatens the right of us all to be informed.”

    That’s from the reporters sans frontieres website; make of it what you will.

  5. vimothy says:

    Do you also want to be a target, Bech?

  6. Bech says:

    A target of what? Do you think I have the political clout of Future TV? And yes I dont think I have special rights, or status (something like a blogger cause) that should make me immune from attacks.

    Anna what Yaman says above should answer your concern.

    M interesting thoughts, that I think go hand in hand with what we’re saying

  7. yaman says:

    Let us say that Playboy decided to start a “news channel” in Lebanon, but their reporters were all suggestively dressed (or undressed) women, and their stories were crude and offensive discussions of topics already taboo in Lebanese society. Then let us say that an angry, offended number of people (maybe the same as those who were angry about the Danish cartoons) attacked their building.

    Would this also be a freedom of the press issue, or just a matter of common decency?

    I don’t think the point is that people should be ‘free’ to attack journalists at will. Putting it in terms of freedom changes all sorts of things as far as the situation is concerned. I think the point is that people should not be surprised when such an event happens, especially if their surprise is based on an abstraction like freedom of the press, and thus conceals other factors that explain why such an incident was really not surprising at all.

    Terrible, yes probably for many people, but a violation of something sacred as Sahar Khatib claimed? I’m not so sure about that. If you talk about freedom it makes the attackers evil, instead of angry.

  8. vimothy says:

    It’s not a question of political clout (more influential = more deserving of a bullet?), it’s a question of not being shot for expressing your views.

    What you said was: the journalist “is the direct formulator of political ideology. He should be the primary target of perceived enemies.” To me, what that says is that not only should you (as a blogger) not be exepmt from attack, you should (as a blogger) be the explicit target of attack because you are a blogger.

    I was just wondering how you would feel if you actually were, but aparently you think it’s a good thing, so that’s all right then.

    At least you’re consistent.

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