Well, after I wrote that long post yesterday about the relative impact of close-ups versus wide-angles in the coverage of opposition and Hizbollah protests, how is today's big opposition protest being covered? Al Jazeera's running ticker has the exact same language that it had for the Hizbollah protest: "hundreds of thousands." No difference there. It is showing lots of wide angle crowd shots, thereby conferring "Arab street power" credibility on the opposition rally, complying with the Asad/protestor demand to "zoom out", and seemingly invalidating the premise of yesterday's post!
But notice this one screen capture: a protestor carrying the sign "Zoom In: We Are All Lebanese!" Which would support the logic of my post yesterday, while also more directly playing into the opposition theme that the Hizbollah rallies had a lot of Syrians bused in for the occasion.
And check out how al Arabiya (left) and al Jazeera (right) chose to illustrate their Lebanon stories on their websites, as opposed to the TV images captured above - closeup images, with al Arabiya offering a pretty girl and English signs, and al Jazeera offering a crowd whose faces could be easily discerned:
Al Arabiya Al Jazeera
All very interesting... much to think over. The battle to interpret these crowds and their political meaning is only going to get more intense and more important, and it will be interesting to see how it develops. Hazem al Amin has a good piece in al Hayat today proposing Future TV and al Manar (Hizbollah TV) as offering two distinct versions of reality, each with important political implications. Mamoun Fandy has a less good piece in today's al Sharq al Awsat suggesting that the choice is between "Hassan Nasrullah and Ralph Lauren." Much more to come, I have no doubt.
UPDATE: a reader sends in this AP picture, which shows that you can have your cake and eat it too - peanut butter and chocolate - close ups on Lebanese babes and mass crowds!