新闻媒体的沟通作用

“And I’ll tell you exactly when they are going to die. They are going to die when the talking stops.” (Robert Wiener, Live from Baghdad)
这是一部很对我口味的电影。
《烽火传真》讲述的是1991年1月15日海湾战争爆发前夕,一个CNN新闻报道小组在伊拉克的故事。该小组的制片人Robert Wiener试图在新闻报道的同时,能够在美伊两国间架起一座沟通和对话的桥梁,希望双方民众更了解对方的真实状态,并让全世界听到和看到一个他们所不知道的伊拉克(当时只有极少数媒体得到伊政府的允许,进入伊拉克和科威特战事前线进行报道),尽全力阻止战争的发生。Robert Wiener需要同时为自己、为CNN和这场战争扮演角色。个人的努力终究有限。他们在巴格达坚持到了海湾战争全面爆发,并在现场报道了美军导弹倾泻在巴格达的那最长的一夜。
这不是上课,不是写论文。没有讲大道理,没有提及新闻和报纸的Freedom,也没有讨论三权分立外的“第四权”——新闻媒体。我无意于此班门弄斧,但从影片的碎片中,我读到了这样一个问题:媒体的职责是什么?是近于“冷漠”的报道新闻事件本身,还是为人类全体尽一份关怀的责任?
我想,这同样也是这部影片试图传达给观众的重要信息之一。
A Good Story
In the beginning of the movie, the fledgling network CNN is involved in a financial restructuring, and the US is on the brink of war with Iraq. CNN is a 24 hour network looking for a 24 hour story and one has just happened. They send a crew to Iraq to report from inside Baghdad. Robert Wiener (Robert) and Ingrid Formanek (Ingrid) are the producers for the crew. When they make it to Iraq their first story is of a little boy being held hostage at Saddam Hussein’s royal palace, although the Iraqis call the little boy simply a “guest.” The movie then cuts to Robert and Ingrid in a dim, smoky bar drinking with reporters from other networks. The story about Saddam’s British hostages, or guests, has just aired on CNN. The text of the story is, “In the rest of the world they’re called hostages, but here they’re called ‘guests.'” The reporters have a problem with the way CNN presented the story and the following is an excerpt taken from their conversation:
Ingrid: It was a good story.
R3: It was bullshit.
Ingrid: No, it was minimum comment, maximum content. That’s all.
R1: That is irresponsible. You let Saddam spout off his garbage without challenging it. You hand Hitler a microphone and you call it journalism.
R3: Where’s the editorial point of view?
Robert: Where’s trusting the viewer? They’ve got the ability to judge this stuff and they’ve got the right to see it.
Ingrid: Absolutely
R1: Oh, god.
R3: But, how can they know what they’re seeing without some sort of context?
Robert: I don’t need some big lead in. I know how I feel about a dictator who puts his hairy fuckin’ hand on some little hostage boy. It’s right there for anybody to see. Who are you to say what it means.
R3: Oh, come on.
R1: (Sighs)
(Scene cuts to the Robert and Ingrid alone in the bar, obviously drunk after it has closed)
Robert: Who are we to say what it means.
Ingrid: We didn’t say what it means.
Robert: What do you think in means?
Ingrid: (Shrugs) Don’t know what it means.
Robert: (Sighs) I’ll tell you what it could mean. If we could get both sides talking…
Ingrid: Peace, love and understanding. Come on Wienerish, we’re just the eyes.
Robert: Ya think?
Ingrid: We put the shit up there and they pull it down on their Sonys. I think I’m quoting you.
Robert: No, I said Zeniths. Oh man, are you drunk?
Ingrid: Yes…… The moment we become the story…
Robert: … it’s over. I know, I know, I know.
Ingrid: Fuck’em. It was a good story.
Robert: We’re going to need another one tomorrow.
Ministry of Information
After the night with Ingrid in the bar, Robert decides that the best thing he can do for himself, CNN, and the war is to score an on-air interview with Saddam. As Robert waits all day in the office of Naji Al Hadithi’s (Naji), the head of the Iraqi Ministry of Information, he notices an obvious lack of respect for the media. Reporters have come and gone all day; some are told that Naji is not there, while others are told to wait. Robert is the only one who stays, and the only one who, when the opportunity arises to meet him, can pronounce Naji’s name correctly. Their conversation starts like a shopping list with issuing Robert requests for equipment; but the conversation becomes more interesting when it turns to the plea for an interview with Saddam.
Naji: What would be the purpose for the interview?
Robert: Well, I gotta tell you. I think without dialogue the war is inevitable.
Naji: Yes, but not dialogue is possible. Your government and the Zionists have blackmailed the United Nations. Are you a Zionist?
Robert: No. I’m not.
Naji: You depicted President Hussein as a hostage taker. These people were his guests, nothing more.
Robert: The President got his message out.
Naji: No, you got your message out.
Robert: The Koran says confound not truth with falsehood, nor knowingly conceal the truth. Can we at least agree on that guiding philosophy?
Naji: Do you think I am so naïve as to be charmed by a fortunate turn of memory?
Robert: I lucked out. That’s the only quote I remember from college, that and the impression of the profound human document.
Naji: Divine? …… Why would President Saddam Hussein do CNN?
Robert: Because we’re the only network with global outreach, because we’re in every foreign ministry, and because he watches it.
Naji: (Reaches for a remote control and turns the only TV that is off, out of three, back on. It is tuned to CNN). What would be the interview’s length?
The Role that Dialogue Plays
The evolution of the relationship continues when suddenly CBS, not CNN, receives the right to interview Saddam. Robert clicks on the television and sees his Saddam Hussein interview being done by Dan Rather. In protest, he returns to Naji’s office to confront him. As the relationship develops both parties have begun to trust each other. It is with that trust in mind that Robert accepts Naji’s proposal to be the first media crew into Kuwait since the invasion. This not only helps Robert address the voice of the CNN headquarters, but seems to be an olive branch from Naji for giving the Hussein interview to CBS.
Once in Kuwait, Robert realizes the story in Kuwait is a clever trick. Iraq sent CNN to Kuwait under one stipulation; they can only cover a story on the allegations that Iraqi soldiers were taking Kuwaiti babies off heart monitors and allowing them to die. They are told they will visit three hospitals, but when they arrive in Kuwait they barely get to visit one before the Iraq troops step in. As they return to the airport, they hear on the radio that they have reported that allegations are false. Not only have they not even filed a story, but now they have become the story. Upon returning to Baghdad, they are swarmed by other journalists. Realizing Naji and the Iraqi government used them, Robert goes to confront Naji in an Iraqi public square.
Robert: I trusted you.
Naji: I did what I had to do.
Robert: No, you set me up.
Naji: All governments use the press.
Robert: Bullshit, that’s too easy.
Naji: No, that’s reality. I use you and you use me. We’re the same.
Robert: Oh really? Well, I’ll tell you what. I’m trying to cut through this bullshit and I’m trying to have an honest conversation.
Naji: Alright!
Robert: Yeah.
Naji: You want honest?
Robert: Yeah.
Naji: Alright. The American people don’t care about the people of Kuwait. This is about oil for you. For us, we care about very different issues: dignity, pride. Much more important to us than oil. More important to us than survival in this mortal realm.
Robert: Ok, ok. So, straighten us out then.
Naji: Alright. An English general carved off a piece from our country after World War I and called it Kuwait. There is a history in this region about which you know nothing.
Robert: Ok, so straighten us out Naji. If we’re getting it wrong put President Saddam Hussein on the air and let him tell us what we’re doing wrong. My people don’t understand your people, so put your man on the air.
Naji: We did that with CBS, it changed nothing.
Robert: No, you’ve got to keep doing it. You just can’t walk away. Think about what’s at stake here, Naji. Think about what we’re talking about. People are gonna to die. People are going to die. And I’ll tell you exactly when they’re going to die. They’re going to die when the talking stops. So, we’ve got to keep talking. You and me got to keep talking. We got to keep talking until we’re old men. Okay? Because soon as the talking stops, we’re dead. Look, maybe I’ll never understand you. Maybe we’re not supposed to understand each other, but as long as we stay talking we stay alive. It’s worth an interview.
Trusting the Audience
However, it turns out not to be too late. Robert gets his interview with Saddam, but fears that nothing new has come of it. As the war begins to escalate, Iraq releases the American hostages and among them is Vinton (an American working in Baghdad whom Robert had an interview with and as a result arrested by the Iraqi government). While Vinton’s release is a colossal, personal relief for Robert, Vinton doesn’t even seem to remember him. Later that evening, Robert begins to talk to Ingrid while overlooking Iraq’s preparations for the war.
Ingrid: Oh, that’s scary. You know they’re talking through us now. Both sides, they’re talking through CNN.
Robert: Yeah, they’re talking, but they’re not listening. What the fuck are we doing here?
Ingrid: Uh, it’s called our job, Wienerish.
Robert: Really? Rapid sound bites. We got a little sound bite of Saddam. We got a little sound bite of Bush. That’s not enough.
Ingrid: What happened to trusting the audience?
Robert: What if you don’t give them the tools they need to understand the story? We’ve got a role to play here.
Ingrid: We don’t solve the world’s problems, we report them.
Robert: Really, is that what it has come down to? Just keep those cameras rolling and wait for the bombs to drop. Nice fucking job.
Four-Wire
As the movie continues to develop, the reporters bond as the war becomes imminent. In the midst of all of this, Naji grants CNN use of a four-wire. A four wire allows the crew in Baghdad to communicate directly with headquarters in Atlanta, but the Iraqi government thinks they are talking to the CNN bureau in Iman. The four-wire is also on its own telecommunications grid, which means in case of attack, CNN will be the only network able to broadcast. Over drinks at a public restaurant, Naji confronts Robert with this during a casual, friendly conversation.
Naji: You deceived us.
Robert: What do you mean?
Naji: The four wire, it allows you to speak directly to Atlanta.
Robert: How’d you find out?
Naji: We are the ministry of information.
Robert: You gonna take it back?
Naji: No, we trust you. To use it responsibly. (Pause) Does that make you uneasy?
Robert: No.
Naji: We keep them talking there is still hope. Isn’t that what you said?
Robert: Chala
Naji: God willing.
Friends
The ending toast between Robert and Naji exudes the voice of social languages. Robert chooses to use the toast of the Arabic people, and the voice of their social languages to display the respect and understanding he has for them. Naji returns this with the English equivalent to show that the understanding and respect is mutual, they are friends.
The attack on Iraq commences and because of the four wire CNN is the only network with the technological capability to cover it. CNN becomes the world news leader overnight. The following morning, the four wire is confiscated, but the coverage of the night’s attack is enough to declare CNN the clear winner in war coverage. Two weeks of attacks go by and as the dust settles on a decimated Iraq, Robert finally decides to go home. Before leaving he has one more conversation with Naji, and it occurs during a walk through the rubble that covers the city as astonished crews search for survivors.
Robert: Your family?
Naji: They’re safe. Thank you. So, you’re leaving?
Robert: Yeah, it’s time for me to go.
Naji: And we have become friends.
Robert: Yeah. (Pause) You kept your word and you’ve been fair. I can’t ask for more than that from a friend.
Naji: And you got your story.
Robert: (As he surveys the rubble) Yeah, not the one I wanted.
Naji: Isn’t it? (Long pause) I will see you when this war is over…. (Naji walks away as the movie ends).
On the surface, this conversation doesn’t seem crucially instrumental as an example of dialogue. However, it is through the evolution of the movie that we can understand the significance of this conversation. On the public level, it is obvious to see that Robert’s hope to mediate dialogue between the United States and Iraq has failed. The war-torn streets and the smoldering rubble are the outcome of CNN attempting to fulfill the role of mediator between Iraq and the United States. But underlying, we have an example of a successful dialogic relationship on the private or interpersonal level.
表面上看,如果把这段交谈看作“对话”的一个重要例子,理由似乎并不充分。然而,从影片的情节进展,我们就能理解这段对话的重要性了。很明显,从公众的角度看,Robert希望通过媒体促成美国和伊拉克两国对话的努力失败了。CNN试图扮演美伊两国间的调停媒介,但事态的最终结果,却是被战争摧毁的街道和燃烧着的瓦砾堆。但值得强调的是,我们得到了一个成功建立了个人人际沟通关系的例子。
The important aspect about this conversation is not the voices that are present, but which one is muted. This is a conversation between two men that are relating to each other without over acknowledging their superaddressees. Robert shows genuine concern for Naji and his family, and they talk as if they are exactly what they say, “friends.” Throughout the movie we see two individuals, who by design should despise each other because of their citizenship to warring factions, but who come together to form a friendship. Every encounter between Robert and Naji advances their knowledge of each other, which is exactly what Buber requires for genuine dialogue. It is to walk away from the moment having learned something about someone or something. As mentioned, it is more than just learning about something, but about listening to and understanding the many voices embedded with their conversations.
这段对话的关键部分并非双方所说出的那一部分,而是隐藏在他们沉默中的那部分。Robert表示了他对Naji及其家人的关心,而他们似乎真如“朋友”一般的交谈。从整部影片,我们看到由于特定的身份和背景,本应互相敌视的双方,却成为了朋友。Robert和Naji间的每次见面,都让他们更加深入的了解对方。比从中知道一些事情更重要的是,我们要学会倾听和理解他们对话中内涵的更多的声音。
后续
中国所面临的问题远没有这样激烈。但是,我们也需要交流和对话,打开自己的心结。对内、对外,媒体需要承担更多的责任和义务,扮演更积极的角色。
“现在中美两国互相了解、研究非常深入,精通对方语言文化、政治经济者不计其数;但无论在中国还是美国,能够以对方国家的文字、在对方国家的媒体上发表文章,并且真正赢得对方国家读者的关注与共鸣者还是屈指可数。”——路透中文网曾有这样一位外籍专栏作家,包立德(Alexander Brenner)。
路透中文网主编王丰这样评价:“他是一个非常真诚的人,一个非常理想主义的人。今天重读他的专栏文章,我仍旧为他的理想主义而感到惊讶。为什么这些我们见怪不怪、甚至根本没有留意的事情,就能让他这么感慨,掉这么多书袋,而且又得出关于人性与社会的如此积极的结论?在讨论专栏话题的时候,记者的职业病——冷漠和自负,令我难以赞同他的一些观点,但更多的时候是他说服了我。尽管作为一个中国人,我认为自己应该比他更加了解中国和中国人,但与他长谈之后,我又时常感到:也许他才是对的。在中国各地的校园、教室里,在火车硬座车厢里,在北京的大街小巷,他早已结交了三教九流的无数朋友。也许他接触到的中国的现实,比我们在酒桌上、报章间、电脑前了解的‘现实’更加真实?”
路透中文网与一家中国官方媒体谈起了合作,打算共同赞助《包立德看中国》专栏,在双方平台上以中英文同时发表,并组织双方的读者发起讨论。王风表示:“我们都对这个项目充满了期待:为消除中国与西方间的偏见和误解、让中国人与西方人都更好地认识对方、认识自己,还有比这更理想的交流平台吗?”
可是,2009年“十一”前夕,几经周折后,包立德终究没有拿到继续留在中国的签证,在极度失望中离开了中国。
“一年多来,每次看到中美关系一些新的动向,以及中国社会一些有趣现象,我都会想:包立德会怎么写?”
“我希望他仍旧在关注着这些话题。即使他是在极度失望中离开中国,我也希望他是对我这个自称的朋友失望,而不是对中国失望。这样一个以真诚乐观的心态关注和研究中国、把众多普通中国人当作朋友的人,他的十年心血不应该落得这样的结果。我希望他现在仍在美国某个大学或智库做与中国有关的研究,做他最喜欢的消除中美两国间的误解、化解傲慢与敌意的工作。”
同样的,在台湾问题上,大陆民众又真正了解多少台湾的历史和现状呢?
立志于两岸民间交流的台湾作家龙应台表示:“我相信,如果你会看见敌人的伤口,你就不会拿起枪来对着他。我发现美国诗人朗费罗说过一样的话,他是这么说的:‘如果我们能读懂敌人深藏的历史,在他的生命里看见他的悲伤和痛苦,所有的仇视都会被卸下了。’”
同样的事业,我也希望毕生为之努力、从而事之。(完)
链接:
Mediated Dialogue: HBO’s Live from Baghdad
转载:包立德,你在哪里?
“你所不知道的台湾”
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About universalzen

不,这恰恰不是我:“初从文,三年不中。后习武,校场发一矢,中鼓吏,逐之出。遂学医,终有所成。自撰一良方,服之,卒。”——《古今人物通考》
此条目发表在家國天下 My Disappearing Homeland分类目录,贴了, , , , , , 标签。将固定链接加入收藏夹。

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