Kalb: Media used as a weapon in the 2006 Israeli-Hezbollah war

March 13, 2007

March 13, 2007 — Marvin Kalb, founding director of the Center and a former reporter for CBS and NBC News, spoke at the Shorenstein Center’s brown-bag lunch on his recent discussion paper The Israeli-Hezbollah War of 2006: The Media as a Weapon in Asymmetrical Conflict.

Kalb illuminated the stark contrasts of how the respective governments handled—or mishandled—the media coverage of the 34-day war. He addressed the significance of three major points: the distinct advantage that a closed society has over an open society in controlling its message; the fact that this war was the first ever to be broadcast live, both on television and the Internet; and Hezbollah’s effective use of communications technology to further its cause.

Hezbollah understood that “the battlefield is in information as much as it is in any town or village,” Kalb explained. He also noted that media access on the Hezbollah side was so tightly controlled that not a single photograph of a Hezbollah soldier was ever published or broadcast during the war. Such restrictions meant that Hezbollah “controlled the message of the day.”

Meanwhile, as Kalb described it, the media scene across the Israeli border was chaotic and undisciplined, and thus projected disproportionate images of the violence and destruction.