Media Misinformation & the Fog of War in Gaza

October 24, 2023

On October 19, several CLA faculty members co-organized a timely intellectual event titled “Misinformation and the Fog of War in Gaza”, co-sponsored by the Departments of Romance, German, Russian Languages and Literatures, Sociology, American Studies, Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Anthropology, Asian and Asian American Studies, and International Studies.

The intellectual event featured Adam Elmahrek, an investigative reporter and Pulitzer Prize finalist from the Los Angeles Times*. Mr. Elmahrek was in conversation with discussants Dr. Justin Gomer (American Studies) and Dr. Sabrina Alimahomed (Sociology). The event was moderated by Dr. Jake Wilson (Sociology).

In his talk to a packed room of over 100 CSULB faculty, students, staff, and community members, Mr. Elmahrek discussed the importance of ethics in media reporting, particularly in the context of unverified, sensationalistic stories that have the potential to stir feelings of revenge in times of war. Mr. Elmahrek contextualized recent incidents of media misinformation on the war in Gaza with a longer historical trend, including journalistic misreporting on the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq in the lead up to the U.S.-led war in Iraq in 2003. 

Mr. Elmahrek also spoke on the importance of journalists to independently verify information from third party sources, rather than relying primarily on information provided by sources directly involved with the conflict. Overall, Mr. Elmahrek offered documented examples of media misinformation, suggested concrete strategies for journalists attempting to accurately report on conflicts, and provided insightful commentary to media consumers seeking to develop nuanced understandings of war.

*Note: Mr. Elmahrek’s talk was not representing the views of the Los Angeles Times in any official capacity, instead, Mr. Elmahrek made it very clear that he was only sharing his own individual experience and perspective on the topic of media misinformation relating to the Israel/Palestine war.

For additional coverage, please see the Daily 49er article linked here.