Thursday, July 28, 2005

How Many Africans Have to Die Before It's Newsworthy?

This post in Huffington this morning absolutely disgusted me. Gayle Smith and others have been monitoring network news for mentions of the Darfur genocide in the Sudan. In a single 75 day period, CBS had no mentions of this, but more than 300 of Tom Cruise (!), and more than 600 of the Michael Jackson trial. Absolutely sickening.

This is part of a pattern that we've seen examples of over and over again throughout the years. African lives just don't seem to matter very much to American news organizations. To me, the ultimate gruesome example will always be the comparison of the coverage given to the Rwanda mass murders and the Nancy Kerrigan incident in 1994. Newspaper editors and TV viewers, when surveyed about these issues, ranked Nancy Kerrigan getting bonked on the leg as a BIGGER STORY than the death of 800,000 to 1,000,000 people by mass murder in Rwanda. I think that's about the time I stopped taking TV news seriously. Can you blame me?

Similar indifference has been shown in regard to the horrible death toll in the Congo's civil war, which has killed 2.5 million people by some estimates since 1998. (You'll notice the link is to Radio Netherlands, which is interesting.) How many Americans know about the Congolese nightmare? I mean besides you and me and a handful of others?

I linked to this story about famine in Niger yesterday. How many people are aware of that? If the answer is not many, it's because things like the tiles on the space shuttle, the search for a missing girl in Aruba (however tragic) and show biz news take priority over dying Africans.

Oh well. I mean, just because they're people doesn't mean they matter, I guess. After all, how many of them are figure skaters who've been hit on the leg? You gotta have priorities, after all.

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