Thursday, August 03, 2006

Bombs, journos and invasive microphones

I could hear the bombs that hit the southern suburbs last night – sounded close but in fact miles away. A tad unnerving to go to sleep to.
The other night had two friends of mine over for drinks who had just returned from two weeks in Tyre. They had a lot to say. They described the danger of leaving Tyre to go and report and get video footage, what with Israel’s indiscriminate targeting of any vehicle that moves. Both showed surprise that only one journalist had been killed so far.
It was the descriptions of visiting villages hit by shells, hospitals visits and the Qana massacre that struck the most.
C. was furious about the insensitivity of many journalists, saying a veteran camera team was idly talking and joking while the corpses of children were being removed from the debris in Qana.
He also slated the cut-throat competition and the asking anyone-that-moved-not-in-the-press-corps their opinion, even sole survivors of a bombing raid that were clearly traumatized. He said their desensitized coldness was disgusting– just my job, pal, don’t pay attention to the mike shoved up your schnoz while you hold back the tears, just give me a few quotes…
The other friend related a story of a bar manager in Beirut that had been so pestered by journos looking for a ‘there is a nightspot that never shuts shop’ type of story’ – to the point of pen poised above notebook thrust across the bar - that he told journos to cordially f-off.
Indeed, the real story is elsewhere and about more important issues, such as the use of uranium tipped rockets (See Depleted Uranium Situation Worsens Requiring Immediate Action By President Bush, Prime Minister Blair, and Prime Minister Olmert states by Dr. Doug Rokke, PhD., former Director, U.S. Army Depleted Uranium project and the deliberate targeting of civilians.
C. described being in a hospital next to a bed-bound lad of 10, that repeatedly called out for his father. The nurse wasn’t sure how to react as the father was killed in the same shelling the son barely survived.
C. said some of the ‘elite’ journos asked him how he managed to get such good quotes – perhaps because I was weeping alongside the victims, he replied.
When I was at the border between Syria and Lebanon distributing food and water with Red Crescent over 10 days ago, the CNN came to film. As Hala, the correspondent, wanted to interview me we got chatting, and she asked me why one Red Crescent volunteer, a trained paramedic, was giving her bad looks. I had to suppress myself from saying the obvious – probably because you are sitting around while we are scurrying around like headless chickens distributing drinks etc. and you are sponging off the organization’s power source, meaning the RC had to turn off the air-con in the caravan (needed to keep medicine cool). But then CNN doesn’t do charity…
For my other friend reporting from Tyre, the most moving moment for him was when a Lebanese-German woman was not allowed to be evacuated along with other Germans as her passport had expired and she was forced to stay behind in beleaguered Tyre with her children. ‘The dead are dead, it’s the ones left behind I feel for.’

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