Thursday, March 29, 2007

Nice move, Iran

Getting ready today, I listened to CNN's American Morning while in the bathroom. Just hearing the video of the female British soldier being held in Iran ( ), I thought the sailor seemed fine, a little bored maybe, but fine. Her voice was monotone, but she was composed and without crackles of emotion. Beyond her compusure, the little monologue was thoughtful and well-spoken. Maybe her use of the word 'hospitable' to describe her Iranian captors was discordant with her tone, but whatever. It's not like she was sobbing or screeching in terror while exclaiming, "I love it here! Why didn't we do this earlier?"

Seeing the still and then live video on later, however, I instantly knew this woman was not in a good situation. Her face and the black scarf around her blond hair sent entirely different signals about how she is doing. It looked like almost any other terrorist video where an executioner may be waiting in the wings to decapitate her or put a bullet in her head. The chilling image brought on a ton of thoughts: what are they doing to her? Has she been raped? Are they all being beaten? Have they talked to anyone non-Iranian? Are they dealing with someone who speaks only a little English? What is going on with them?

Two things struck me about this - one is the power of visual imagery. Had I just heard the sailor, I would not have worried for her. I would have just thought that she was tired, like anyone in a captive situation would be. Even her "admission" that they had trespassed meant little to me. I accept that the sailors must have trespassed; I don't believe the Iranians would poach them from international waters.

My more pleasant conceptions were out the window upon seeing her. That black scarf, the submissive posture and the crappy production values signal to me that someone is going to die. It's scary how much my reasoning and sense about the situation changed after experiencing the visual. Seeing her allowed me to put myself in her shoes in a way that hearing her or reading her words cannot.

Also, what is wrong with the Iranians? How could they orchestrate and diseminate a video like that for pr reasons? They seriously need a media consultant. Someone who would say, "Ya know guys, this looks a little terroristy."


At Thursday, March 29, 2007, Blogger LL said...

I agree the video of the captured sailors was eye-opening. I actually first heard of the story on morning local news so I was able to hear and see what was going on. It is hard to know how the sailors really are feeling, but from what I interpreted it was definitly not as pleasant of a picture as Iran hoped to create.

I think AM makes a great point. Visual images create power, honesty, and reality to a story which I think adds an extreme benefit to the viewer (I think this is why I am in broadcast and not print). I love being able to tell a story through the eyes, not just the ears, so people can think for themselves, make their own hypothesis and be inspired in their own lives.

At Friday, March 30, 2007, Blogger KY said...

I can only agree. It's TV, meaning visual, compelling, honest. I did not see this video, but it seems like what the viewers got out of it is beyond the story, it's how the story was manipulated and construed to paint a more pleasant picture. THis makes the broadcast dishonest.

In this case, I'm sure when AM and LL watched, CNN's credibility might have diminished, at least a little bit. Perhaps the right thing to do would have been to listen to the woman, find her actual story, and report an honest story.
Something to keep in mind: Journalism tactics do not overlap across countries. Something that we think looks odd may look peachy to them. But in general, moods are the same and something that looks terrorist-y probaby translates likewise across boundaries.


Post a Comment

<< Home