The media, balance and influence

The media has a great impact on how people react to the events or the type of the news they are exposed to. Foreign news sometimes becomes more important and talked about extensively. In the Arab world the Palestinian- Israeli conflict and the situation in Iraq are the dominant news in the Arab media. Some repressive Arab governments prefer their populations to talk openly about problems in these areas and criticise Israel without reserve instead of criticizing them.

Many people are made to care about certain issues more than others. There is sometimes sensational news that tops all the news. The case of a star being called to the police station to account for the slapping and headbutting of an individual becomes news as it happened with Amy Winehouse a few days ago while somewhere in the world there are people exposed to hunger and torture.

Death is death. Pain is pain. But the way suffering and death are reported depends on the “weight” of the nationality of the persons or even the animal concerned. There was an incident in which a dog was stuck in the Berlin Wall before the unification of Germany. To rescue him there had to be contacts through the diplomatic channels of East Germany and West Germany.

There are many stories that go around the world untold or they are reported just as footnote.

There are many countries that are rarely reported in the news and therefore they are little known. Nigeria is in the news because of the kidnapping of foreign oil workers because they are in majority westerners. Chad was in the news because of the alleged kidnapping of Chadian boys by French aid workers.

What matters is that people should get real facts about what’s going on in their own countries or communities and be mobilized to find solutions to their problems. Being briefed about the problems in another country isn’t enough if they don’t know about the problems in their homeland.

People get more interested in a news item through hot and witty debates. When debates are plain they become boring. What make them interesting are the challenging questions and the opposed parties on the qui vive not to give ground.

It’s also queer that in some countries, people don’t know even the name of ministers forming the government and they are knowledgeable about foreign heads of states and prime ministers, simply because they are constantly in the news.

The commercial media is in most cases concerned about attracting the largest audience or readership. They report for them what can be more exciting than informative. It turns out to be just a big machine of propaganda. News in depth in long articles has little chance of catching the eye. Light news is enriched with pictures has popularity as it is a way to, pass the time rather than getting deep knowledge.

The media despite all this has been greatly instrumental in making people have their own vies about challenging events. There are issues on which concerns diverge like the environment and the threat of hunger around the world. So it isn’t easy to portray the media just as black and white. Let’s not forget the case of hunger in Africa in the 80s was brought to the world through a BBC report about starvation in Ethiopia. That triggered global awareness from politicians to stars to ordinary people to alleviate misery in this continent. But support is still debatable.

As long as a story has depth, it’s worth reporting globally. What is worrying is when the media becomes a propaganda machine with imbalanced and one-sided approaches to events for political and economic reasons. It’s the responsibility of the recipient to choose which side to take and which item to pick up be it of international, national or local concern.

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