On Tuesday, the publishers of Oxford dictionary announced that the word “Selfie” would be added to the prestigious dictionary’s next edition. The publishers added that the past year has seen a surge in the usage of the word “Selfie” which refers to pictures taken of one’s self and then posted online. Yet the past week has also seen the addition of a new word to an Israeli dictionary, that of Channel 10’s newsroom.
Two weeks ago, an Israeli IDF soldier named Eden Atias was brutally murdered by a Palestinian terrorist while sleeping on a bus. The following night, Jewish terrorist allegedly set a Palestinian home on fire hoping to murder its inhabitants in retribution. When asked to report on the incident, Channel 10’s commentator on affairs relating to settlers stated that there seems to be an atmosphere amongst the extreme right wing which supports violent attacks on Palestinians. Channel 10’s Arab commentator offered his own insight stating that a similar atmosphere exists amongst Palestinians in the West Bank who do not openly call for attacks on Israelis but do not oppose them either.
With all these “atmospheres” floating around its no wonder our region is such a turbulent one. But the word atmosphere is not reserved solely for the Israeli Palestinian conflict. On Thursday, another commentator was asked to comment on a video which supposedly documents sexual acts between the famous Israeli singer Eyal Golan and 15 year old girls. The reporter explained that there is no video but rather a visual document of some sort which demonstrates a general atmosphere of sexual promiscuity. Finally, when commenting on the agreement reached in Geneva regarding Iran’s nuclear program, Channel 10’s international affairs commentator stated that an atmosphere of reconciliation towards Iran has existed in the US for some time now.
One can’t help but wonder what an atmosphere of terror attacks or reconciliation feels like. Is it similar to the Aroma of freshly brewed coffee? Or perhaps it resembles the ambiance of a 1958 Château Lafite? More importantly, what finally tuned senses must commentators hold nowadays in order to identify and analyze such atmospheres?
While it is clear that there is a surge in the usage of the word atmosphere, it is unclear why it has suddenly been adopted by so many of Channel 10’s commentators.
A possible explanation is that by using the word atmosphere Channel 10’s newsroom saves itself the effort of conducting actual investigative reporting. Why go through the bother of interviewing leaders of the extreme right wing or finding sources which could confirm that Jewish terrorists have indeed organized in order to attack Palestinians when one can simply explain it all by an elusive and unseen “atmosphere”. Why bother with going through endless statements of US State Department officials and Op Eds published in US papers when the American concessions towards Iran can be summed up in a magical three syllable word.
It’s almost as if Channel 10’s commentators have found their very own “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious”.
Another possible explanation for the adoption of “atmosphere” by commentators relates to their role in televised news broadcasts. After all, the commentator is not a reporter per se but rather someone who is supposed to offer insight into the bigger picture. While the reporter is the investigator, the commentator is a forensic specialist asked to look at the evidence gathered and ascertain what transpired at the scene of the crime. As such, the commentator is asked to offer an opinion in his area of expertise. What is puzzling is the amount of commentators currently featured in televised new broadcasts. Bit by bit the reporters have disappeared from televised news transforming them into a vast wasteland of CSI like forensic dramas.
And let us not forget that audiences love their forensic experts. In the US, researchers have identified a “CSI effect” in which juries are reluctant to pass a guilty verdict without first being shown high tech forensic evidence like the ones featured in TV shows. Seeing as how televised news broadcasts now battle for ratings like any other prime time show, it’s not surprising that they boast forensic experts rather than actual investigators. This, however, comes at a heavy price. For as the news become mere entertainment the fourth estate is weakened leaving a blurry line between fact and fiction and an even blurrier line between an engaged society and an entertained one.