COLUMN: World War III? A news coverage analysis

Israel and Palestinian militants are fighting again in the Gaza Strip. This isn't about the fact they're fighting; they fight all the time.

Sometimes the battles are more intense than others, but I'm not excusing the violence as any violence, anywhere, is horrible and is to be condemned.

This is about the reaction I've seen from some people online about the fighting and how the media's coverage of war affects our perception of it and what we really take from it.

For example, I've seen a few people on my Facebook feed make the claim that World War III has started due to the escalated fighting between two groups of people who have been fighting for centuries.

Of that claim, I'm not so sure.

Granted, I'm no history buff, but I do know the coverage of such events by America's news networks greatly affects the way we view the Jewish state's military efforts.

America has a vested interest in the security of Israel as well as supported it in numerous ways (monetary aid being the most commonly cited) and it shows in our national media's coverage of Israel's affair.

In the first six paragraphs of a breaking news article from CNN about the conflict, the words "Israel" and/or "Israeli" appears a combined 11 times.

Using those words alone does not mean much, but used in the context of attacks or counterattacks by the country or by the opposing forces can say a lot to a reader or viewer as to how they view the conflict and whether or not they are getting the full, multi-sided story.

An example from the lead of the CNN article titled "Rockets pound Israel, Gaza as Netanyahu alleges 'double war crime'" can demonstrate the slant, either forced or not, has on the American viewer or reader.

The word "Israel" or "Israeli" is used three times collectively and the phrase "Israel pounded what it called terror sites" shows (particularly with the word "pounded") that Israel is on the offensive against the militants.

Although they might as well be, looking from a different perspective, that of the leading Arab world region news network Al Jazeera, shows a different angle to the conflict.

In this article's lead sentence, the words "Israel" and/or "Israeli" are seen twice, focusing on the recent history between the two groups, saying it is the "worst outbreak of violence since the Israeli assault on the territory nearly four years ago."

The point to this entire case study is this: there are multiple sides to every story and not just "incidents" reported as a "new conflict."

If World War III does start, we'll have a defined incident to call a starting point but if it doesn't remember this: The Israelis and Palestinians have been fighting for centuries, and probably will be until they can't anymore.

News is never isolated; each piece of news is connected to another, no matter how small the connection.

Keep this in mind next time you watch the nightly news or check the latest news on your phone, as it will help put a bit more context into the news you consume, no matter what it is.


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