This post introduces a strategy for news consumption that media consumers can implement to ensure perspective and balance.
After America preemptively attacked Iraq in 2003, American networks provided viewers with a sanitized version of the war. In contrast, networks like Al Jazeera and Al Arabiya portrayed the gross and bloody reality of the war. The Arab networks clearly showed the devastating reality inflicted on the Iraqi citizens, as well as American and Coalition soldiers. If news organizations in the U.S. had shown the same bloody images, I wonder if Americans would have called for an end to the war sooner?
Now today, looking at the Israeli-Palestinian issue, I wonder how Americans would feel if they saw the images that are broadcast on Arab media networks? For example, how does it make you feel when you look at this picture of young Palestinian’s throwing rocks at Israeli soldiers:
Does this photo elicit a different set of emotions?
In Figure 2, the 19-year old Palestinian students were forced to stand blindfolded outside in the hot sun for 9 hours at an Israeli checkpoint because they refused to line up the way the guards instructed. They had an exam the next day. After hearing the rest of the story, how do you feel? Could you imagine living like this? Could you imagine having to stand in a line for hours to cross from state-to-state or city-to-city in America?
In sum, people can obtain perspective and balance by sampling a variety of media sources. Media literate communicators should encourage students, friends, and family to supplement their media mix with blogs and International newspapers on the Web that offer an English version. Google News offers 25,000 news sources. Most Americans have no excuses; there are multiple perspectives out there and very accessible. We should all strive for balance by taking in a variety of perspectives.