Comparing International News
Tala El Hallak
American University of Beirut
Every time an event takes place different stories are told from all over the world. In all the countries there are several news sources that take different sides of an incident or even choose to cover an occasion depending on its political background, religious background, cultural background and more. According to Moeller (1999) “Crises are covered for political, strategic, commercial and historical considerations”. This assignment will show you how different news sources frame an event. I will be comparing the US and the foreign media coverage concerning the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident.
Comparing international news
The comparison between the US media and the foreign media will show you different ways of framing an incident. Moreover we will see how propaganda plays a role on people’s ways of thinking. “The way journalists cover the event probably will affect how a community reacts in the aftermath of the tragedy.” (Hight & Smith)
The incident I will be talking about is the Mavi Marmara event. In general, the Turkish flotilla carried humanitarian aid for Gaza but as soon as they reached in front of the Israeli blockage, Israeli soldiers interfered and attacked the ship thinking that they carried weapons in the ship.
The different media sources framed the story in several ways. For instance if we look at the official government news source we will see that the US government clearly takes the Israeli side. “Israel has the right under international law to set up a naval blockade to keep weapons from being sent to Hamas.” (Levin,2010). He adds as well “It seems clear that the organizers of the flotilla, particularly those on the Mavi Marmara, set out intentionally to use force to challenge the blockade”.
Moreover in another government new source, Waxman (2010) says “It is clear that those aboard the Mavi Marmara never intended to carry out a peaceful humanitarian mission. No country especially Israel, should permit a blockade to be pierced without a chance to see if weapons were included with other goods”. Waxman explains here that the only thing Israel did is react in self-defense when the soldiers were attacked.
The US government focused on the Israelis who supposedly were attacked and treated violently by the members on board. This actually emphasizes Moeller’s (1999) argument when she says “American like to see the world in terms of good guys and bad guys”. The US government clearly separates the Israelis who are depicted here as the “good guys” and the Turkish flotilla with the on board members as the “bad guys”.
The reason why this event appeared in their newspapers is because it concerned Israel. And as Moeller (1999) says “Americans are terribly preoccupied with themselves. The American filter in the media’s coverage of international news, the notion of relevance to the United States, is very important.”
On the other side we can see that the Arab world reacted differently. For instance in the Al Jazeera news, the story was basically the fact that the Turkish organized a flotilla in order to bring goods into Gaza and Israeli soldiers surprisingly attacked the boat thinking there were weapons in the Mavi Marmara. “Israeli forces have attacked a flotilla of aid-carrying ships aiming to break the country siege on Gaza” (Al Jazeera and Agencies, 2010). This news source actually shows how the Israelis were armed and attacked innocent civilians. We have here another side of the story. Al Jazeera focused more on the Israeli intervention and on the fact that on board members were killed. Something that caught my eye is the fact that both official US government news sources did not say how many people were killed and wounded on board, whereas Al Jazeera news mentioned that Israeli radio reported the number of deaths. “At least 19 people were killed and dozens injured when troops intercepted the convoy of ships dubbed the Freedom Flotilla early on Monday, Israeli radio reported” (Al Jazeera and Agencies, 2010).
Moreover we can see that in Al Jazeera news, they state what Israelis said and then say their version of the story, for example “The Israeli military said four soldiers had been wounded and claimed troops opened fire after “demonstrators on board attacked the IDF Naval personnel with live fire and light weaponry including knives and clubs” (Al Jazeera and Agencies, 2010). Below this sentence they add “Free Gaza movement, the organizers of the flotilla, however said the troops opened fire as soon as they stormed the convoy”. Al Jazeera tries in a way to prove that what Israel is saying isn’t true.
In another Al Jazeera report, Tadros (2010) blames Israel for everything by explaining that after the siege begun, Israel let small boats carrying aid for Gaza in. So basically, Israel gave permission to small boats to enter from the beginning. “The mistake was made years ago when the boats were first allowed in- had they been stopped from the start, perhaps the blockade-busting boat idea would not have taken off”. (Tadros, 2010)
The Israeli newspaper Haaretz focuses on the fact that the Mavi Marmara like so many other boats uses the aid supply as a pretext to break the Israeli blockade. “The Mavi Marmara was one of several aid ships aiming to deliver supplies to Gaza in violation of an Israeli naval blockade” (Ravid, 2010).
Moreover we can see that in an Israeli government news source, the Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs posted videos that argue against the Mavi Marmara saying that the purpose of this flotilla was to violate the blockade and to confront the Israeli army and not for humanitarian aid. The videos concentrate only on the passages where the on board members are defending themselves against the Israeli soldiers in order to show how “violent” they were.
Furthermore we can compare how briefly the Haaretz news has gone over the subject whereas Al Jazeera actually gave it much more importance.
In the US newspaper today, we can clearly see how the US takes Israel’s side by stressing on the fact that Israelis were “confronted by violent Pro-Palestinians activists on board” (Jones, 2010)
We can see that the US and Israelis tried to defend the Israeli act by saying that all they did was protect their blockade and defend themselves against violent on boarders. On the other side, the Turkish say that they had no bad intentions. In both cases the “good guys” and the “bad guys” are using propaganda in order to gain support. For instance, in the US official government news source, Waxman (2010) uses the words “tragedy” and “loss of life” to describe the incident. In the Al Jazeera newspaper, Tadros (2010) uses the words “bloodshed” and “violence” to describe the attack. The exaggerations in both cases refers to what Shah (2005)says “ The “good guys” and the “bad guys” can often both be guilty of misleading their people with distortions, exaggerations, subjectivity, inaccuracy and even fabrications, in order to receive support and a sense of legitimacy”.
We can also notice that this incident did not make the news in the Indian newspaper (Indiadaily) because it doesn’t affect their population in any way and people don’t really care about an incident concerning the Middle East. The only time the subject was brought up was when an Indian vessel decided to join “The Audacity of Hope” against the Israeli blockade. “An Indian vessel is set to join a new international campaign named “The Audacity of Hope” to press for an end to the Israeli blockade of the Gaza strip” (Mendolsa, 2010).
I first started reading about this incident in the Israeli newspaper and I was kind of convinced about what was said. But then I read the other side of the story and actually noticed how much propaganda can play a big role in the people’s minds. People should always read both sides of the same incident because there will always be different stories told.
Finally what we can say is that the US framed this story by defending the Israelis. The reason why the story appeared in several newspapers is because Israel was involved in the issue. Other newspapers such as Al Jazeera, framed this story differently by defending the Turkish ship and the fact that it was heading to Gaza for good reasons. We can see here two different points of view of the same story. Other sources such as the Indian newspaper, did not give much importance to the topic. The different newspapers try to make their stories sound as real as possible in order to convince the reader to support the side they’re on. “Many news stories appear to be natural and unforced. But when comparisons are made, it becomes clear that the choices and frames are not inevitable, and they’re not unproblematic.” (Moeller,1999).
– Moeller, Susan. (1999, December ). Four habits of international news. Retrieved from http://www.frameworksinstitute.org/assets/files/PDF_GII/four_habits_of_news_reporting.pdf
– Hight, Joe, & Smyth, Frank. (n.d.). Tragedies & journalists. Retrieved from http://dartcenter.org/content/tragedies-journalists-6
– Levin, Carl. (2010, June 03). Statement of senator carl levin on the mavi marmara incident . Retrieved from http://levin.senate.gov/newsroom/release.cfm?id=325451
– Waxman, Henry. (2010, June 03). Rep. waxman’s statement on the mavi marmara incident. Retrieved from http://waxman.house.gov/News/DocumentSingle.aspx?DocumentID=188840
– Al Jazeera and Agencies. (2010, May 31). Israel attacks Gaza aid flee . Retrieved from http://english.aljazeera.net/news/middleeast/2010/05/201053133047995359.html
– Trados, Sherine. (2010, July 14). Israel’s boat problem. Retrieved from http://blogs.aljazeera.net/middle-east/2010/07/14/israels-boat-problem
– Ravid, Barak. (2010, September 13). Trados, sherine. (2010, july 14). israel’s boat problem. Retrieved from http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/israel-s-gaza-flotilla-probe-panel-summons-mavi-marmara-captain-1.313559
– Jones, Brent. (2010, December 07). Israel report blames flawed planning for raid. Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/news/world/2010-07-12-israel-flotilla-commando-report_N.htm
– Shah, Anup. (2005, March 31). War, propaganda and the media. Retrieved from http://www.globalissues.org/article/157/war-propaganda-and-the-media
– Mendolsa, Victor. (2010, July 26). Indian ship joins the ”audacity of hope” against israel’s anti-gaza blockade campaign . Retrieved from http://www.indiadaily.com/editorial/21581.asp