13 August 2009

Hearts and Minds

I love Christiane Amanpour. I remember seeing her on CNN when I was in my early teens. I was one of those geeks in middle school who would actually read the Time and Newsweek magazines in the school library, and I remember reading an interview someone did with her about her apartment, which at the time was in Paris. How glamorous, 13 year-old me thought. Her elegant accent fascinated me, and she was always in the midst of whatever conflict was going on, wherever in the world that might be.

Even as a young teenager, though, I was a princess, and I thought that the conditions reporting in war-torn countries was a bit miserable for my tastes. Running water? No. That means 1. no showers and 2. no flush toilets. Hmm. I don't think so. Spotty telephone service; in those days, long before mobile phones were common; no contact with my friends and family, except for rare, rushed, and expensive phone calls. Yeah, I dunno if I'd like that so much.

So I admired her, and I envied her a good bit (an apartment in the Île de la Cité?? Sign me up!) but I didn't want to be her.

About a year ago, CNN advertised a documentary that she did, and I wanted to watch it, but didn't remember to either set the DVR or to watch it when it was on. Fascinating stuff. But TV isn't super-important to me, and unless J-man happens to be in it, yeah, I'm not making a supreme effort to make sure I'm watching.

I happened to catch a bit of it tonight, on the HD version of CNN that my cable company carries on its digital tier.

It is funny to me that we talk so much about bias in the media, and yet, Amanpour's opinion is crystal clear; she disapproves of programs she profiles in Gaza and The West Bank that are teaching children to be militants. She likes a few children's programs that are run with American money, Yankee teachers, and western ideals.

Yes, I happen to agree with her. However, does it serve purpose, then, to change anyone's ideas? I don't know. She's profiling the Islamic world, in particular, young people in Gaza, Kabul, and in other places in the Muslin world. I wonder how someone whose families were killed during the most recent bombings in the West Bank would feel about her reporting. Neutral? Balanced? Not so much, I don't think.

Fascinating, absolutely. Mystifying, too, I don't understand the points of view because I've not lived under a constant state of war and bombings. Something I'll need to watch again to absorb more fully.

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