Are western audiences different from Arab audiences? Of course.
Palestinians who want to get their voices heard in the West must understand those differences and tailor their message accordingly.
Today a UK journalist visiting Gaza discussed how to write more effectively for the western audience. Mohammed Ahmed opened my eyes to some of the challenges that Palestinian writers have . . . things I’ve taken for granted as a native English speaker.
Not only must a Palestinian master the English language, but she must also tailor her message so that a Westerner will be receptive to it —- reading or listening to the message without dismissing it outright.
Mr. Ahmed asked the class today whether any of them read or listen to the Western press (BBC for example). Several said they did, but most don’t and one admitted it made him angry to watch BBC because the reporting is so slanted against the Palestinians. “You must turn that anger into energy,” Ahmed said and spend time watching the Western media to develop a sense of how the messaging is different from the Arab messaging.
One of the major differences, he pointed out, is Western audiences like facts developed in the story more than Arab audiences, who appreciate the emotive nature of story-telling.
Now that I think about it, when I hear the Arabic radio announcer on the local station in Gaza (I have no clue what he’s saying), his tone and style seem very sharp and abrasive to me, as though he is shouting even though a microphone must be only inches away. I wonder how his messaging might strike me, if only I could understand it.
Israeli writers and journalists can more easily connect with Americans and Western audiences in general because they come from the some cultural background.
Ahmed feels that the Palestinian voice on the international platform was very strong during this last “war” because of the tremendous grassroots response from young Palestinians using Twitter and Facebook throughout the 8 days to share what was going on in real time. He urged everyone to keep it up, and to build on the momentum.