Image by David M* via Flickr
Most of the global news networks are offering formal news coverage of the operations in Gaza, initiated by Israel from Saturday as retaliation to Hamas missile attacks on cities in southern Israel. For years Israel has complained about slanted media coverage of the conflict (it may have something to do with the fact that Israel’s presence in the West Bank and Gaza is a disputed political issue).
So how does one combat hostile media coverage of a conflict where one side (the Palestinian one) seems like the perpetual underdog? You personalize the content. Israel has asked Israeli citizens to provide the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) User Generated Content (UGC) in the form of videos in multiple languages explaining the psychological angst they live under when they have to run for cover in about 15 seconds from an ongoing barrage of missiles rained down on them since 2001.
It’s a clever approach. While mutilated bodies of civilian victims tell a gruesome story of the tragedy of the conflict, the personal stories, and especially the Israeli ones – largely being ignored by mainstream media, are interesting.
If we look at Israel in web 2.0 terms, the country is really a social network (Anderson said countries are “imagined communities” anyway, so this works) which is linked by a few common denominators: language, religion, law, war and history. So in essence, tapping into this community for UGC is quite simple. In Israel, everyone knows the national narrative, articulates it, and can present it well. Putting a face to a people, in a conflict, is a powerful thing – so I think this move by the MFA is clever. Sadly though, through my mandatory security service, I met and befriended many Palestinians, so my thoughts are with them as well in this dark hour of renewed violence.