The war between Israel and Hamas has significantly transformed the landscape of TV news and reporting both visually and in terms of content.
This transformation is expected to endure for an extended period before a new visual style and narrative takes its place. Nevertheless, while these changes are noticeable in television broadcasts emanating from the United States, the United Kingdom, and regional countries like Qatar and Turkey, Iran’s state-owned television appears to remain unaltered, acting like an island isolated from live broadcasts.
Visually, one of the most striking aspects of TV news reporting is excessive use of aerial shots. These aerial views provide a broader perspective of events on the ground, akin to watching from a divine vantage point, observing the activities of smaller entities on another planet. Aerial shots, once costly and hazardous when captured from helicopters over conflict zones, have become more affordable and accessible through small quadcopters equipped with high-resolution 4K cameras. These videos, which now constitute most of the televised news coverage, tend to emphasize the destructive aspects of the conflict.
We became accustomed to watching graphic and violent scenes on TV after 2011, during the period when ISIS was wreaking havoc in a significant part of the Middle East. However, the destruction witnessed in Gaza used to be filmed from a distance and presented days later.
In terms of content, there is now less control over airing gruesome videos. While user-generated footage of violence against men, women, and children is still shared on social media, broadcasters ensure that such graphic content is not aired on television. Instead, graphic violence is described using words rather than images.
For the first time in television history, we observed a US official, the National Security Agency’s coordinator for strategic communication John Kirby, bursting into tears while talking with a CNN news anchor as he discussed the suffering of Israelis and other nationals held hostage by Hamas. This highlights the power of words to evoke emotions and resonate with people.
One of the notable changes in global TV news coverage after the October 7th attack is a shift in narrative that emphasizes the voices on both sides of the conflict and distinguishes between Hamas and ordinary Palestinians who may not endorse the group’s actions. However, Iranian TV remains absent from this shift and echoes the regime’s perspective, which neither recognizes Israel nor acknowledges Palestinians beyond Hamas members.
Many TV channels around the world, and most markedly the Iranian state-controlled television, have been airing prejudiced coverage of what happened in Israel and Gaza at the price of losing their viewers’ trust. That is what prejudiced reporting without covering the views of the other side of the argument does. Prejudiced reporting creates dangerous bi-polar opinions in the society, and erodes trust in the media.
However, it is understandable that there are difficult situations which make impartiality meaningless for the media. Reporting the events during the 2022 protests in Iran, reporters learned that it is absolutely impossible to remain impartial when security forces blind or kill 16-year-old girls and boys by shooting them at point blank range.
US Secretary of Defence Lloyd Austin pointed out this bitter fact for reporters when he said during an October 13 visit to Israel that “This is no time for neutrality and false equivalence.”
The issue of impartiality can be the subject of several hours of debates at any journalism and ethics course. In the United Kingdom where the media operates independent of the government and does not take orders from state officials, three cabinet ministers have reportedly been trying to convince the BBC to use the word “terrorist” to describe the atrocity committed by Hamas. Media figures such as the BBC’s John Simpson were involved in heated debate with journalists, media outlets and members of the public over the matter. However, a final verdict might take several years.
In Iran, where state-owned television is utilized as a tool for promoting Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s ideology, and with no independent radio or television, the state TV disseminates biased propaganda in favor of Hamas and fails to differentiate between the group’s members and ordinary Palestinians. Iranian television conceals essential facts regarding the initiation of the most recent violence in the region.
Several polls have shown that Iranian state TV offers the least popular channel in the country and only 11 percent of viewers in Iran get their news from the state TV. The other 89 percent turn to stellate TV channels such as Iran International and the BBC for news in Persian.
The Iranian TV never tells its viewers that not all Palestinians are Arab. Most Iranian viewers do not know that there are also Jewish and Christian Palestinians, and that the Muslims there are Sunnis. The Iranian TV does not tell its viewers that Palestinians generally supported Iraq’s Saddam Hussain in his war against Iran and that Hamas was not Iran’s ally when Iranian forces were active in Syria after 2011.
Iranian TV lives in a parallel world and offers often fake and fabricated news to a tiny segment of the regime supporters. It keeps Iranians in the dark about where their real interests are and who controls them and why and how. It wants Iranian viewers to live in an imaginary world of illusions.
Source » iranintl