Thursday, July 13, 2006

Bombings in Haifa...watching how news is constructed

Bombing in Haifa

Today has been an interesting time to reflect on how news in constructed.

At 8:40pm I awoke from a short nap and decided to make myself some dinner. Over my pita and hummus I decided to turn on the TV and when I flipped past CNN I was stunned to see an image of Stella Maris a neighborhood in Haifa about 20 mins down the hill from the University where I am staying. My first reaction was to go out to my balcony that overlooks the northern part of the city to see what was happening. But around me were no signs of this event. I saw no smoke rising from the cityscape; students were still milling around the campus courtyard and playing tennis on the university courts. If I had not turned on the TV I would not have known what was happening.

An hour later announcement came on the campus intercom for all students in the dorm are to go to their apartment safe rooms/bomb shelter. So slowly the students migrated inside but 2 hours later when the notice was made that all was okay the place came back to life. Overall it was just another peaceful night on campus in Haifa.

However it was interesting to not that in those 2 hours the peaceful atmosphere changed in my own space not because of what I was experiencing around me, but the tone set by the news. Haifa made the top headline on CNN with constant showing of images of the small area of town that was affected. Their was a series of interview with foreign correspondence, to local observers, and government official the described Haifa as “a place of panic” and “a war zone” to one where locals were experiencing with “a sense of hesitancy and fear”. As I listened to these CNN reports I grew more anxious, till I finally just turned off the TV. The media’s constant barrage of images and featuring Haifa as the crisis of the minute helped heightened the feeling of panic. I turned it off and called a few friends who lived in other parts of Haifa and learned they were all calm and more realistic about the situation.

Online I scanned the Israeli papers such as Haaretz online which:

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