“Media is the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses.” Malcolm X said.
“All of us who professionally use the mass media are the shapers of society. We can vulgarize that society. We can brutalize it. Or we can help lift it onto a higher level” William Bernbach.
Mass remote control, the Dajjal (Dajjal is an Arabic word which means the man who hides the facts by using smart lies), the ultimate power, the power of the owners, the new drugs and the new messenger of God; are just some of the names of the media that controls people’s minds and guide them to the direction set by the owners or the investors.
This year, media has achieved a new and unbelievable goal, it became the battlefield between the protestors, the governments and regimes of many Arab countries. It became the only way to communicate, negotiate and threat.
So, there are two kinds of media, the honest media and the manipulative or Dajjal media (Dajjal is an Arabic word which means the man who hides the facts by using smart lies) which is supposed to be the media of the strong side.
There is no successful media without a huge number of followers who believe in what it shows and presents. In Syria people are divided into two parts; the people who believe the official media, and those who believe the ‘other’ Media. In order to discuss why the Syrian society has been divided we asked the people on the streets: Do you or do you not believe the local media? And why?
Sa’adoun Gh, a college student said: “Syrian media has achieved a very significant progress in all aspects, especially the news media, in a short time. Its efficiency and role has been proven in effecting the society and mobilizing public opinion during the current crisis in the country. However, I wish more development for the Syrian media in the future.”
“In this spring of revolutions, Arabic satellite channels have defined the story by providing around-the-clock coverage and commentary from Tunisia to Libya. But that’s not the case in Syria, where authorities ensured that the revolution won’t be televised by banning most international media. This is why I believe neither the local nor the global media. Local media will not cover the news neutrally and global media will not transmit the right news. A London-based satellite channel, Barada TV, has stepped in, beaming anti-government programming into Syria, with financial support from the U.S. but I don’t believe them too” Khaldoun Sa ,45 years old mathematics teacher
Hanna Samaha, 30 years old accountant said: “I know the important role of media in leading and guiding the masses, so, I don’t trust the global media. I watch and believe the local media (Addounia, and the Syrian Satellite Channel) because they work to ease the situation, they love Syria and they desperately try to show the fact that the other channels work on hiding the facts. Syrians love their country and they will do whatever they can to save it and as we all know (The end justifies the means) and I believe that they have very national motives. Good intensions justify the unrealistic coverage some times.”
Joumana Gh , Gynecologist was more specific and described the role of the media as being a remote control; it will work only when directed to compatible devices: “people of Syria are well educated and they know exactly what to believe and what to refuse”. She refused the mobilization against any kind of channels and insists on the right of each channel to say whatever it likes: “Competition is always allowed so let them compete and as we know the law is the survival of the fittest, let them struggle as long as they can, it is a healthy case that will help the people to form their orientations, I,myself, like to watch the global channels, because I witnessed a big lie once on some Syrian TV and I would never believe them again, I will not tell you about it, though “
Mortada Ah 25 years old said: “We can only judge the media through its results in society, so successful media is the one which can reach the largest segment of people and form a strong and cohesive internal public opinion against the invasion of the outside media, and this can be done through deep understanding of the community and accurate diagnosis of its crises and thus providing the comfortable information to citizens, in addition to the objective coverage of events, so eventually the national media could be able to cope with the problems and resolve them. Some national Syrian media have succeeded in achieving a big and important part of these steps and were able to find a well-respected place among the most important channels in the Arab world.”
The era of editing
Ahmad Saaied, 27 years employee: “Some people describe the Egyptian revolution as a Facebook revolution. I think that, In Syria, it’s the YouTube revolution because all the media coming out of Syria, almost all of them are going through YouTube. Syrian protesters often risk their lives, documenting deaths on the hands of the security forces with cell phone cameras and an Internet link. But with the availability of new and advanced editing technologies I don’t belief any of the clips on the net, so I watch the Syrian official channels because they refute the fake clips that the protestors upload.”
“Syrian Local Media, both private and state owned media, have been tracking the crisis inside the country since February. Some said that most of this coverage or almost all of it was to reflect the official point of view. So I will never believe them, especially after the lie saying that the demonstrators were thanking God for the rain! People are not fool any more, I watch Aljazeera and Al-Arabia because they respect the minds of the audience while the official and state Syrian channels are adopting the (lie, lie until they believe you) they fabricate the clips they manipulate the facts, they benefit from being the only channels that have the permission to cover the Syrian streets so they freely direct the clips and broadcast them”, Salem Sh, 25 years teacher, ended his words.
Souha Ra, 52 years house wife “I can’t imagine that there is anyone who believe Aljazeera or any channel of the enemy channels, they are working to defeat Syria the land of heroes, the last castle against Israel. I watch the local and state channels, they are telling the truth, they are working for the best of Syria and I believe in Syria. I will never ever watch Aljazeera the channel of liars, they lied about anything and they will keep lying to the end.”
Their old concepts are dangerous
According to psychologists people follow the stronger and the more powerful side and believe in it, and they sympathy with the weakest. So, should we believe the stronger and forget the weakest? Or should we support the weakest and stand against the stronger?
“In the media business the more clips and evidences you got the more people you will control, I can differentiate between the local and state channels, and the global channels, both of them are fighting for more audiences, both of them will deal with the devil to prove his part of the story. I think that, it is the time, in Syria, of the psychological wars; the more tactics you use the higher level of followers you will have. As for me, I watch all channels; I chose what to believe and what not. I trust my educational level and know-how to choose the right and wrong, but I noticed that the local and state channels are not working in a very professional way, they are adopting very old strategies and tactics” Ahmad Abdo 27 years old dentist said.
“The Americans are working to destroy Syria; they are using all what they could to control the minds of the Syrian people. I don’t trust them and I don’t want to trust them or their channels anymore. Local and state channels are the best they are showing the exact reality of Syria. I don’t believe what Aljazeera broadcasts because they have a dedicated operation room to fake the witnesses and to fake events”.
Syrians are looking for honest news, they need to be fed by more information, because the questions are growing more and more about the reality: “People are more educated now; they will not accept any superficial explanations or information” Ammar Sa, 52 years old professor, said. “Workers in the local and state channels should be up to date with the latest psychological studies and researches, they are not professional, I don’t know where do they get their tactics, or let me say their failed tactics, from. People will not believe them whatever they do because they are hiding the truth that everybody knows.”
Hannan li, 30 years old housewife, said: “I follow up the channels of state television since a long time ago, perhaps since the start of Syrian television broadcast, and I can say that a huge development has been achieved in our media in terms of image, presentation and means of information delivery. There has been more sincerity in speaking to people and exposing our problems. Let’s not forget the great work our national media has done in this very difficult stage, they have played a very big role in calming and comforting the people who saw the news and rumors that were being broadcasted on the biased channels. We are very grateful to our television and radio channels for what they do to maintain safety and love among all the people in our society”.
Jehad Ez, 42 years old: “I don’t trust the local and state channels even when they broadcast advertisements! I even deleted them from my favorite channels list! I have heard enough lying and disregarding of my mind and culture, we are not living in the 60s or 70s, we can understand everything even if we can’t see the reality. So, what are they trying to do is to spread the culture of lying and disrespect of others’ minds. Actually I laugh every time they broadcast the supposed criminals admitting their faults and crimes, I don’t believe such plays, it is an obvious play and I refuse dealing with the realty in Syria as a scene in a long old movie! I will never watch such fake channels again, the only thing that I wish to know is what are they aiming for? Do they really think that if they lied they will achieve victory? What victory? They will lose, history will mention them as losers and liars no more no less”
Ibrahim Ta, who works in media said: “There is no neutral media, nowadays who has power and money can control the means of communication and disseminate information that is compatible with his interests even if it conflicts with the conventions, norms and notions of freedom and democracy, those eliminate the others and practice intellectual terrorism on them. So, our Syrian national media has to gain the right tools to face this media attack on our society.”
During the current crisis in Syria we have seen that there are still many obstacles and problems in organization and management of the national media which prevent it from rising to the right level to deal with all the latest plots of information that come from abroad, and this weakness has exacerbated the crisis in some cases and caused the citizen to get lost between facts and lies.
But despite that, we cannot deny that there has been a significant progress in our media in terms of technology and the speed of news delivery, also in opening the door of communication and interaction with people, even if this progress was at a slow pace and on a small scale. This promises that the problems in the media sector started to get solved through removing restrictions or censorship and supporting transparency and objectivity, especially after the issuing of the new media law which abolished the restrictions that were imposed on the media and gave the media an independent entity. Finally we hope it could play its real role in leading our society and reflecting its aspirations.”
People are not so shallow anymore; they need professional and credible news, they demand the media to respect their minds, so the local channels should consider such facts and work for the best of the people not the best of their owners and investors.