BEIRUT: Lebanon’s media leaders met Monday in Beirut to agree on a unified way to express support for the Lebanese Army, as fighting between militants and the military entered its fourth day.
The original purpose of the meeting among Lebanon’s print, audio and visual news outlets – held at Future TV’s headquarters at the invitation of former Prime Minister Saad Hariri – was to discuss how to show solidarity with the Christians of Mosul who have been persecuted by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
However, in light of ongoing events in northeastern Lebanon, a decision was made to prioritize creating common coverage of the Lebanese Army’s struggle with Islamist gunmen and of the Iraqi issue, which is also a result of Muslim extremists.
“The media has always had a split language because of political affiliations,” said LBC Chairman and CEO Pierre Daher.
But there is now an urgent need to “unite the media’s language in a way politicians can’t, because if Arsal falls today, then none of us can go back and sleep in our houses,” he added. “The Iraqi war has come to Lebanon.”
Head of the News Department at MTV Ghayath Yazbeck said media outlets “need to go on an internal journey to filter out differences so we can unite over large national issues”
“When we think about Mosul the general sentiment is that terrorism is a common enemy, and then came Arsal, which was also kidnapped by takfiri extremists,” said Hussein Wajh, a director at Future TV.
He stressed the need for media outlets to “stand united behind the Army with common messages and common headlines in the face of existential threats.”
Al-Jadeed news director Mariam al-Bassam said the priority was showing united support for the Army, adding that she “couldn’t mention terrorism in Mosul and not talk about terrorism in Arsal or Syria.”
Those gathered agreed that media outlets should marginalize voices that defame or doubt the Army, with director of NBN’s news department Qassem Soueid suggesting the adoption of a united logo or slogan in support of the military.
“We can even organize a common talk show for all news outlets in one studio and agree on guests and topics to be discussed concerning the Army and the incidents in Arsal,” he added.
Director General of Al-Manar Ibrahim Farhat agreed on the need to come up with a common logo or slogan, pointing to the necessity of “prioritizing the Army.”
The media representatives also agreed on the formation of a small committee to discuss means of supporting the Army and security forces, as well as methods of highlighting their struggle on a national level.