“16 killed, thousands injured, Israeli snipers line the border,” read the brief notification on my phone, and on that of millions of other conscious global citizens relying on the mainstream media for political and global knowledge. I, along with the pro-Israel community, cringed at each of the countless buzzing notifications informing the world of the events transpiring at the Gaza-Israel border in the recent weeks. We have a far greater depth of knowledge about the complexity of the conflict than the larger populace, who generally take less of a keen interest in the specifics of the conflict, and we know for certain that such a headline doesn’t nearly encapsulate the Israeli narrative of the scene in Gaza. It fails to acknowledge that at least 80% of those dead are known associates with terror group, that the snipers exercised tremendous caution with live rounds of ammunition, opting for rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse the violentdemonstrations. And we know that Hamas leaders cowered behind the crowds of civilians thrust towards the border and that they monetarily incentivized the crowds to breach the border fence.
But who cares? What difference does it make what we know? We each only count for one person in a general election, each of us one pro-Israel voice in a sea of voters under the impression–established and reinforced by the headlines on their devices and in the papers–that Israel fires indiscriminately into a crowd of peaceful protesters.
And the misinformation and lack of perspective and adequate figures relating to the Israel-Palestine conflict truly comprises much of Israel’s public relations nightmare. With the concept of a news cycle over a period of time being rendered obsolete by the instantaneousness of today’s news, consumers absorb as much information as possible in as little time as possible. Per the Washington Post and the American Press Institute, “roughly six in 10 people acknowledge that they have done nothing more than read news headlines in the past week. And, in truth, that number is almost certainly higher than that, since plenty of people won’t want to admit to just being headline-gazers but, in fact, are.” And according to Forbes, 59% of the articles shared via social media sites are not first read by the ‘sharer.’ Similarly, Twitter has a CTR (click through rate) average across all of its users of 1.64%, meaning that less than one in fifty people elect to digest the information beyond the headline of the article.Media is an omnipresent force in society–particularly those news outlets with the clout and acclaim to sway public opinion on any given issue, where even a single sentence presented (like the lede of an article) can have a profound impact in its connotations and specific phrasing.
In the immediacy of the technological age in which we live, with notifications popping up by the minute, and the needed brevity of the headline/lede to maintain reader-attentiveness while conveying a hasty picture of the situation, lots can be lost in translation. This sizeable fault in the media is much less prevalent with other major global disputes, like the American-North Korean tensions: It’s common knowledge that North Korea is bad and communist, while America is better and democratic, to put the matter simply. So when CNN reports that Kim Jong-Un has just tested the latest intercontinental ballistic missile, and it is capable of reaching Alaska, I immediately understand the danger posed and am not ambivalent when siding against North Korea.
But for issues not so black-and-white such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, a simple headline can easily give off the wrong idea and formulate an opinion one way or the other, even if it’s not sufficiently substantiated, as is frequently the case.
As mentioned, headlines regarding events playing out in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict notoriously hold an anti-Israel slant–unintentionally or otherwise. Coupled with readers (or not readers, should I say) not bothering clicking on and considering the factual evidence, but instead relying on headlines, the already-harbored anti-Israel sentiment by tech-savvy, short-attention-spanned millennials and young voters can only trend upwards, shunning the facts in favor of convenience.
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