Feature

Putting the horrors of war on TV

We need a TV network courageous enough to show the brutal realities of war, said Eric Calderwood in<em> The Boston Globe.</em>

Eric Calderwood
The Boston Globe

Al-Jazeera won’t win any prizes for objectivity, said Eric Calderwood. But the Qatar-based television network, whose pro-Arab partisanship boosts its popularity throughout the Middle East, could teach American networks something about war reportage. “Our networks’ squeamishness about violence lets us keep human death and suffering at a distance, an abstract consequence of policy.” We never see the enemy soldiers or civilians our guns and bombs have killed; nor do we see Americans killed or maimed in the service of their country. By contrast, Al-Jazeera “throws war in your face with all its gruesome cruelty.” The network’s recent coverage in Gaza featured “mutilated corpses” and heartbreaking hospital interviews with children “who bemoan the loss of their siblings or their parents.” The reporting isn’t fair—Israeli victims are never shown. But covering war bloodlessly is a form of bias in itself. What we need is a TV network courageous enough to show the brutal realities found on Al-Jazeera—not to support one side or the other, but to give Americans a visceral understanding of how horrific war truly is.

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