Information Warfare: December 17, 2001


The Curse of Cable News- The proliferation of cable channels was initially seen as a good thing. More choices allowed people to see what they wanted, not just what was available. When cable news channels began to multiply, this was also seen as a good thing. Part of this proliferation was the worldwide availability of news networks from many different nations. This enabled immigrants to the United States to see news in a language they understood. But the War on Terror brought on an unanticipated downside. The September 11 attacks were covered by Arabic news stations very differently than in America. The Arab take included things like Israel being behind the attacks on the World Trade Center and the War on Terrorism actually being an excuse for a war on Islam. For many Arab Americans, these foreign newscasts were all they saw, or the bulk of the newscasts they were exposed to. This put many Arab-Americans in this situation at odds with their non-Arab neighbors. We tend to believe a lot of what we see in the news, and if two groups of people are seeing radically different interpretations of the same story, there will some unease and suspicion on both sides. But most Arab-Americans caught in this situation quickly expanded their list of news sources and at least came to understand where their neighbors were coming from. At the same time, many people take advantage of all those newly available foreign news channels to actively look for different takes on the news. You dont even have to understand other languages to do this. Some foreign news channels broadcast a block of their news in English, giving English speakers a synopsis of the days news as seen in their country. Many Americans are picking up on this, or at least the news junkies are, and providing a wider assortment of interpretations of the news.


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