The other aspect that Channel 4’s Unseen Gaza raised was whether Western media should have shown more gore from Gaza.
This was raised at the panel I was on at the Oxford Media Convention yesterday. Why didn’t TV put on display the horrors of war? Aljazeera and most Arab media was far more graphic.
Interestingly, journalist and media peer Lord (Norman) Fowler felt that more should have been shown. But head of BBC News, Peter Horrocks was convinced that people would simply be put off watching at all if you ran picture of severed limbs, splattered brains and streets covered in innards.
On Unseen Gaza a British Muslim family were keen for much more gore. I have to say they came across as a little hysterical.
On the programme itself, most journalists argued that it would be counter-productive. Viewers would either switch-off or they would be so shocked that they would not understand or listen to the facts. And what would you do to shock them next time? Would endless exposure to the gore simply numb viewers?
British TV news is too soft. It could do more to jolt viewers. If it was done after the watershed and with clear signalling then it could avoid offence. However, it should only be a very limited increase and done with the kind of subtlty employed by great TV journalists like Jeremy Bowen and Jon Snow.
In my experience the image of a child’s hand poking out of the rubble of a house is ultimately far more disturbing than flesh strewn across a street.