This is a topic that I’ve been wanting to ignore. Partly because some people might misunderstand what I’m saying. Like that never happens on the Internet. Secondly, because it seems so basic and logical to me even as so many others have been bashing western media for acting western.
Here’s what has been annoying me. The day after the Paris attacks, people were bad-mouthing Facebook for selectively having a French flag profile option when other options highlighting other world tragedies were not available.
Seriously? Do we really need to explain this?
Here’s more. So many people complained about the outpouring of grief over the tragedy in France while seemingly ignoring the rash of attacks, deaths, mutilations, genocide, and other incidents which are continually happening around the world.
I guess it needs to be spelled out for some people. So here goes.
The amount of media coverage does not equate to the level of tragedy. Heck, you want a historical example? When the Pol Pot regime was brutally killing 1/3 of the Cambodian people in the 1970s, no one really paid attention. When Vietnam attacked Cambodia and started rooting out the Khmer Rouge in December of 1978, the world community criticized Vietnam! Shouldn’t they have been encouraging the Vietnamese on? The Paris attacks paled in comparison to what Pol Pot was doing and lack of media coverage could ever change that. All tragedies are equal on the human level. I grieve for war-torn Sudan like I grieve for the victims in Paris. There’s no difference, and the level of media coverage doesn’t change that.
But it seems like many people are saying that the media coverage should be more balanced, and should be treating all tragedies everywhere the same.
Like it or not, media is not purposed for fairness. Media is not purposed for equality. Media is business. Period. Many people may not like that answer or want to accept that answer, but it’s the truth.
So in light of this, why is it such a surprise that western media focuses more on western tragedies? It’s just the way of life. My hometown paper of Butler County, PA focuses on the news and views of the local scene which mean the most to the people who read the paper. Under some people’s logic, that paper should report just as much on a robbery in Arizona as they would a local robbery because it is unfair to focus so much on one tragedy while seemingly forgetting about another.
Well, of course, that’s silly. We would never expect that of a local newspaper. Nor should we expect that of the big western media companies whose constituency consists of western patrons.
Remember. Media corporations are private corporations. They owe nothing to anyone (except hopefully the truth.) But no one can cover all the truth.
Also, media corporations are profit-making organizations. Like it or not, that’s why they exist. They exist to make money, not to set any specific agenda (though some certainly do that.)
So profit-seeking, western media (both traditional and social) would naturally chose stories which resonate the most with the people who are paying the bills. This means that certain stories which are “unsexy” or which are less appealing for cultural or other reasons will find themselves on page 25 while stories of Paris will find themselves on page one.
There is no real mystery here. There’s no hidden agenda. They cover what will pay the bills.
People who expect the media to be idealistic and to cover everything equally are simply wishing for a reality that doesn’t exist.
If one wants to find out news about what’s happening in western countries, western media would be an excellent source. If one wants to find out what’s happening elsewhere, I would suggest finding some alternative sources. And if you are really passionate about a tragedy which isn’t getting the coverage you feel it deserves, your best bet is to start your own media company to cover it. I’d be interested, I’m sure.
To recap. Don’t be surprised when western media focuses more on western tragedies.
Lastly, the fact that this happens doesn’t mean that other tragedies not covered in western media aren’t as important. It only means that they weren’t covered in western media.