- Many journalists covered the funeral of the murdered Minister, Pierre Gemayel, the latest victim in a string of political assassinations in Lebanon. These recurring assassinations establish Lebanon worldwide as one of the countries with the highest potential for this type of violent execution. Despite the repercussions of the tragedy of Gemayel’s death ¬– evident in the agony of his wife, family, friends and all those participating in the funeral through whom an expressive and moving picture was related – one which the media hastened to transfer, and yet still, only a minority of journalists were able to overcome the sense of monotony in the scene as witnessed by Lebanese citizens nowadays.
It had barely been a few hours after Gemayel’s murder when the television screens were appointed with a duty; all programs were interrupted and the news and live coverage of the event were aired instead. Scenes of Gemayel flooded the screens, accompanied by melancholy music. Soon the division in Lebanon became established through the discrepancy of concerns and approaches adopted by the different channels, each with its own inclination.
Events in Lebanon, which potentially involve a lot of civil and political clashes, undoubtedly provide an abundance of material that journalists – both the local and the foreign – strive to present. Several films and documentaries have been produced while others are underway to chronicle what is taking place in the country. These tumultuous occurrences offer the makers of these films rich material to draw from with every passing day. Yet most of these films are open-ended as the Lebanese events never cease to repeat themselves, the complications more perplexing than the prospects of a settlement or solution, making it difficult to imagine convenient endings to the current situation. Divisions in Lebanon carry no suggestion of any signs of impending solutions or clear endings. Thus the media appropriation, with all its different types, remains open to all probabilities such as the civil strife.
What increases the confusion and ambiguity in the scene is an implicit and unspoken agreement that fails to reflect what is truthfully being said in the streets via the media. It is true that some media manipulates the repercussions of public stances for the sake of fuelling sectarian and political clashes. However, this small portion of what has been related though the screens is a simplification of the reality on the streets of a Lebanon that is on the brink of explosion – literally not metaphorically. What took place of clashes and confrontations on the sidelines of Pierre Gemayel’s funeral was a sample of this state of frustration. These clashes were covered by newspapers and the Lebanese media without actually showing the scenes of the clash, or revealing its language and the reigning volatile frustration.
The question boils down to which one supercedes the other, professionalism or ethics. It might seem that presenting the division as it actually is, is a duty that is required by professional integrity but it is simultaneously highly combustible material – where do media figures stand in this equation! The strongest likelihood in a situation like this is that it requires a balance between professional stipulations and the necessities that trespass these conditions. The issue may be illustrated through revealing the divisions as they are in return for giving the resulting risks further consideration. This is not a concluding thought; rather the matter requires further contemplation and deliberation between those concerned. Until a solution can be introduced to put an end to this division, the true image is doomed to remain in the margins of the scene rather than dominate its center.
Diana Mukkaled is a prominent and well respected TV journalist in the Arab world,