BBC doing a live 'laptop link-up' from south lebanon

23 Aug 2006 | 330 words | beirut media war

The BBC is currently doing a rather interesting live conversation with a a panel of inhabitants of the south lebanese village of Al-Khiam (which is notorious for the torture prison the israeli supported SLA did run there from 1985 to 2000). the villagers are answering questions that can be posed to them via the BBC-news website.

While the BBC website claims that the conversation is live, at least the questions seem to be relayed to the panelists very selectively and all of them are subject to moderation before they appear on the website: at the time of writing 11 questions had been answered by while 259 had been posted by readers.

Most of the submitted questions (and for sure those recommended by other readers) seem to be intended to provoke the panelists into anti-hezbollah statements claiming that Israeli conduct during the war was somehow morally superior to the conduct of Hezbollah. This leaves the impression of being a well coordinated action by Israeli war supporters (something the Israeli foreign ministry is known to actively stimulate). However this does not keep the panelists from praising the ‘Islamic Resistance’ and the furthest they go in criticizing them is the – now familiar – ‘bad timing’ argument (that Hezbullah should not have captured israelis at the beginning of the tourist season).

These issues aside it is encouraging to see a big broadcaster to experiment in this way with the possibilities offered by mobile internet access and it actually seems to allow these villagers to directly engage with a public that has a highly filtered perception of what has happened in south Lebanon in the last couple of weeks.

An a related note: the complete recording of the live webcast we did one and a half weeks ago is now available for download in four parts. In retrospective this was a truely amazing event. make sure that you also check out this drawing by mazen kerbaj, depicting how the whole thing looked in Beirut.