Many people have felt positive regarding the role played by the "new media" in serving the Palestinian cause. It has managed to break the old-style media's control over information, led by the western news websites, and allowed an unlimited publication of the facts in regard to the Israeli violations against the Palestinian people.
The Arab and Islamic interaction with the recent Israeli attack that targeted the Jenin camp at the beginning of this July, nonetheless, has made me concerned, as the issue did not receive as much support as in the past. Although I have not conducted scientific research on this occurrence, I believe that the vulnerable engagement with the Jenin operation was explicit, particularly amongst my friends and some of those whom I follow on social media (not Palestinians).
Moreover, an Arab journalist commented on what is happening in Jenin and asked a question: "Why does no one pay attention to such news?"
As I am a journalist and a university lecturer of digital media, I only blame the new media for this regression, not the changing beliefs of the pro-Palestinian cause supporters. I surely believe that the solidarity shown towards the Palestinians is increasing, not vice versa.
The crowds today are fleeing the old media, as a result of the new media's impact. They also avoid the following of serious news, and this can be confirmed by the report issued by Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism last June 2023. The expansion of the 'new media' may have led to a notable change in the news consumption, negatively affecting the following of the Palestinian news and other issues of global importance.
Today, we feel so much nostalgic. In the past decades, the Palestinian cause enjoyed a wide-scale follow-up by the global audience through the old-style media. News was streamed through newspapers, television and radio, all of which played a major role in influencing the global public opinion and the international policy.
The situation, however, is not like that today. Yes! It is true that some pioneering channels, like Al Jazeera, intensively covered the last Israeli aggression on Gaza. Yet, the question is: who watches TV channels today? In this accelerating world, which is full of information, people are busy with a wide group of diverse issues and occurrences; where it is not important for the Palestinian cause to be included.
The fragmentation of masses
In order to understand how this happened, we shall remember that the media revolution has brought about a transformation in the way news and information are consumed. This has thus led to the fragmentation of masses and the scattering of their attention. In the past, the old-style-media channels were responsible about guiding the people by determining the news and information the audience will receive. Nevertheless, with the emergence of the 'new media', it has been possible for individuals to choose their favorite information sources, which cater to their personal interests.
The massive diversity of the available sources, as individuals now have access to several platforms, blogs and societies via the internet is one of the factors that have contributed to the fragmentation of masses due to the 'new media.' Currently, it is also possible for anyone to select the sources that comply with their opinions and beliefs.
In this phase, crowds move within the information sources, fragmenting them. Additionally, many people use what can be named as "information filters" to choose the content they prefer. This yet opposes the old media theory, which was pervasive in light of the dominant old-style media. The extent of information which is being increasing on a daily basis via the new media might lead the audience to flee the news, which has become a source of "informative chaos" for them.
In fact, the "fragmentation of masses" resulting from the new media constitutes a major challenge for the media tools and the owners of the just causes. For instance, the Palestinians who depend on others' empathy and support.
What is required at the Palestinian level
We, as Palestinians generally and decision makers and elites specifically, shall be aware of this transformation in the following of the news in regard to the Palestinian cause.
The international sympathy has been always a method to protect the Palestinian people from the Israeli aggression. We should not believe those who claim that Israel does pay attention to the international criticisms and what is being published by media, as they only decrease the intensity of the aggression.
Undoubtedly, the diminishing media coverage of Palestine may amplify the intensity of the Israeli occupation. We, consequently, have to act based on what the Arab poet, Abu Nawwas, said, "Treat me with what was once the remedy."