Watching War

Friday, January 23, 2009


As the last of the Israeli Defense Forces left the Gaza Strip this week, we wondered how coverage by Al Jazeera might look through the eyes of a Westerner. Eric Calderwood, a Harvard graduate student living in Syria, wrote in the Boston Globe recently that, as an American, he was accustomed to “bloodless war journalism,” the kind you see on CNN. And so he was shocked by the unflinching, often gruesome footage he saw in Damascus.

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Comments [12]


All news is biased. Broadcaster's cover what their sponsors want them to cover. I think this is true thoughout the world. I think America grabbed onto this coverage because it involved the Muslim community which we are told is bad. It also distracted us from the pointless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The news there may seem harsher because of the images they show. But that is war. We get a cencored, watered down verson of the wars we have instigated. News turned into entertainment when prospectors found that there was money to be made in news coverage. I think its been decades since we got unbiased news coverage.

Apr. 27 2009 01:23 AM
OX from Japan

I was really surprised at Eric's view on Al Jazeera. What Al Jazeera is broadcasting is the very reality of the war. Is it biased!? If so, how do you like FOX TV? Oh,yah, you like
the BBC which has refused to air an appeal by a group made up of 13 biggest aid agencies to raise aid for Gaza, because it doesn't like to risk its impartiality of its coverage of the Middle East by airing the appeal. It's time to think about the responsibility of journalism. What do you think,
Mr/Ms Editor of On The Media?

Jan. 27 2009 07:41 PM
The Chosen Victim from New Jersey

American media is largely responsible for the American ignorance. In the last presidential school, over a quarter of Texans thought that Obama is a Muslim. In parts of Ohio, the number of those who did so was in the 90% range. It is no surprise to find Al Jazeera being called manipulation while Fox news is the very model of objectivity! it would be laughable but for the fact that the sugar daddy that supplies Israel its resources to turn Gaza into a concentration camp and Israel itself into the very model of an Apartheid state, is about to turn into broke indigent!

Jan. 25 2009 09:33 PM

Eric Calderwood said he was unable to turn off Aljazeera's 24 hour reporting of the war on Gaza. He praised Alzazeera for including coverage from other media, including the Israeli press. So why did he call the coverage "dangerous and problematic.'?

Jan. 25 2009 09:28 PM
Cyrus Esmaili from San Francisco

Your report in PBS regarding war in Gaza and how Aljazeera reported it - after watching the gruesome pictures of Gaza after the war - brought to my attention that how sanitary Aljazeera reported the war and how Western media, including yours, totally ignored it.

Jan. 25 2009 05:58 PM
Jeffrey E. Salzberg from Jersey City

al Jazeera showed the violence in Gaza; did Did they also show the rockets landing on Israel?

Jan. 25 2009 10:50 AM
Dr. Carol Poll from Sea Cliff, New York (Long Island)

Fascinating program about how the press is distorted in arab countries and therefore perceptions.

Dr. Poll

Jan. 24 2009 05:51 PM
ted from Michigan

Eric has it right: "it's wrong to think that NOT showing images of violence is somehow neutral."

NOT showing us the ugly reality of the Gaza war is the REAL manipulation.

Jan. 24 2009 02:34 PM
ted from Michigan

Eric has it right: "it's wrong to think that NOT showing images of violence is somehow neutral."

NOT showing us the ugly reality of the Gaza war is the REAL manipulation.

Jan. 24 2009 02:33 PM
anne from Canada

Very interesting observations - but I'm amazed that neither the interviewer nor Eric seemed to recognise the similarities between al Jazeera's coverage and that of CNN and the networks (drumbeats and countdown of the war etc!). I was pleased at the mention of the coverage of the Israeli media - the same unbiased reporting cannot be said of majority of North American media.

Jan. 24 2009 01:23 PM
ted from Michigan

It's a blatant double standard. Explicit coverage of violence against us is appropriate but the same treatment for the victims of our violence is "manipulative."

Jan. 24 2009 11:03 AM
Andrew Prescott from Hillsborough

How is the fixation with the coverage of Gaza any different from the way we watched the Twin Towers for hours on end? The events in Gaza were spread over a longer period but 1000+ people died - many thousands are suffering. Much has been written about the way the nation watched the news coverage and the almost hypnotic efffect this had that may have contributed to the reponses that followed.

Jan. 24 2009 07:48 AM

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