The news landscape today has been plastered with stories about the 85 year old woman freed by Hamas talking about the “kindness” of her captors?
So, imagine being a fly on the wall in a typical newsroom at, Sky, the BBC, the Guardian, the Daily Mail, or wherever, it doesn’t matter… they’re all having their mid-morning news conference, sitting around with their lattes and smoothies, quinoa salads and bagels, and the story of Hamas’s hostages comes up. Can they squeeze it in between the wall-to-wall coverage of Gazan hospitals hit by rockets from who knows where (they certainly don’t)? “Yes!” cries a young intern. See, there’s a fresh angle on this. An old woman has been let go and she says the captors were kind and considerate.
This is certainly a novel angle. Perhaps Hamas terr…er, ‘militants’ aren’t monsters after all!
Everyone agrees this is a good idea! Let’s roll with that!
But not one senior journalist, not one news editor, not one producer, not one ‘adult in the room”, stops to ask the obvious question leading from “the facts of the story”. No, they are so far up their own backsides in search of “narrative” that they don’t make anything of this glaring fact: Hamas are still holding her husband.
Do any of these minds move to “Oh, perhaps she can’t speak entirely freely. Perhaps she fears what they might do to her husband if she doesn’t say what they told her to say. Perhaps we should approach this story with caution…”
You’d expect someone to mutter “Stockholm”. But instead all we hear is the rattle of pebbles inside heads which would be entirely empty were they not filled with hubris and self-importance.
Where are the great journalists of the past? How did we end up with a media landscape populated with so many fools and cretins?
“They beat her with savagely with sticks, but on the other hand they did give her some soft cream cheese to eat, so they can’t be all that bad, right? And they were very clean!” reads the typical story in your newsfeed.
Yes, I’m angry, but – after a deep breath – I will put it more plainly: Why did most of the media present the story in this fashion when it should have been clear to any level-headed journalist that this was somebody who was being very careful about what they said in order not to get her husband murdered?
The story could have been more responsibly kept low key. It could have noted the brutality of her abduction while also noting – not in the screaming headlines – that she says she was otherwise treated well. It could have noted that some hostages have been confirmed dead, so this is by no means a typical story. But most of all, it should occur to them that if Hamas get a huge story like this for every hostage they release, they are going to be incentivised to drag it out as long as possible.