A picture’s worth a thousand words, but what those words are, depends a whole lot in American media, at least, on pre-existing official attitudes. Take the picture of Neda Agha-Soltan — last year, she became the face of Iranian resistance after a YouTube clip circulated showing the young protester’s tragic death.
Quickly, everyone was talking about the power of citizen journalism, and Neda became the symbol of democratic longings slain by anti-western tyrants.
Fast forward to the Israeli assault on the Gaza flotilla and gone is talk of the truth telling power of citizen journalism. In its place, a very different frame: organizers "armed" with video.
Both sides were "well armed – with video cameras" writes Brian Stelter in the New York Times. Organizers "chose to make their trip to Gaza a media event" he quotes a source saying as if that somehow makes them suspect.
It all amounts to a "war of images by the two sides." In fact it amounted to nine civilians dead – at least one shot in the head multiple times by elite commandos in international waters.
It’s hard to imagine any similar article appearing were the killers Iranian. What is missing from the videos is context, writes the Times. Could it be that what is actually missing from this debate might be even-handed coverage and logic?
The F Word is a regular commentary by Laura Flanders, the host of GRITtv which broadcasts weekdays on satellite TV (Dish Network Ch. 9415 Free Speech TV) on cable, and online at GRITtv.org and TheNation.com. Support us by signing up for our podcast, and follow GRITtv or GRITlaura on Twitter.com.