Archaic Witnessing and Contemporary News Media

Blondheim, Menahem; Liebes, Tamar

As witnessing is becoming a key issue in communications and media studies, its understanding is proving more complicated and even controversial. In what follows, we attempt to simplify our understanding of the fundamental concept of witnessing by considering its meaning and role when it was a few millennia younger. We will use the biblical meaning of witnessing to trace the origins of the contemporary debate and try to see whether and how veteran notions have conditioned our understanding of the institution of witnessing. We will apply these insights to journalism, a social practice that over the last generation seems to have experienced radical shifts in its potential and practice of social testimony.