Al-Ghazzi, Omar

‘Forced to Report’: Affective Proximity and the Perils of Local Reporting on Syria

Based on interviews with Syrian media practitioners, this article uses the notion of affective proximity to make sense of local media practitioners’ reporting and witnessing of suffering in their country and community. Omar Al-Ghazzi argues that the life-risking, and sometimes deadly, media practices of local reporters and witnesses, as well as their emotional labour, often do not feature in understandings of journalism when it is conceived as a purely professional discursive pursuit. He explains affective proximity in terms of an imagined space (or the lack thereof) between a media practitioner, on the one hand, and the event they are representing and participating in, on the other. In relation to Syria, he uses it to analyse the word ‘revolution’ and what it mediates, the shifting boundaries between activism and journalism, and experiences of, and in, violence. Al-Ghazzi makes the case that the study of affect and emotion in global news should be contextualized within the unequal power relations that give shape to journalistic roles and modes of representaiton.

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