Monday, 3 August 2009

Media, help us!

Pollution, climate change, poverty, wars, famine, diseases, deforestation, human rights violation, child labour, etc. this is our world today. Not very impressive, right? How did we reach this decadent state? How did we screw up so badly? My guess is greed and money.

In order to make more money, we pollute, we cut trees, we turn a blind eye on human rights violation and child labour and we start wars. There also are the things that we wouldn't do because they are not profitable; like concretely helping disadvantaged populations because it means a large expense and a small return. Making real efforts in reducing our oil dependency and cut our CO2 emission means less money for the big oil groups, so we don't "really" do it. But having Exxon Mobil displace native populations from Ecuador or northern Peru in order to extract oil (and destroy the natural habitat) is okay because it creates jobs and contribute to the GDP growth.

I know what some of you are thinking, "we all know about that, and there's nothing we can do to change it, so let's live with it". Here's my answer; how about more media coverage? Media can make an uninteresting story the centre of attention. All they need to do is talk about it every single day in order to impact people. This has been abused in the 2002 French election: media talked about the violence caused by the foreigners in the cities and suburbs...even in the small villages. They interviewed French people complaining, but that brutality has always existed - it has just been put on the front line by the media. The result? Jean-Marie Le Pen, the extreme right leader, succeeded in the first round of the elections (and fortunately had an epic fail in the second round).

So yes, issues of child labour in India and human rights violation in Darfur are approached by international media but very superficially. What made it more to the headlines: Child labour in India or Micheal Jackson's death? And which one is sincerely more important (no offense to MJ fans)? I am not saying that we shouldn't talk about the small entertaining matters, but how about using that same strategy on the things that really matter?

Let's face it, we all find it fun to read about Britney Spears' divorce but somehow unexciting to read about the dramatic things that don't affect us. Technically the media is not to blame because it needs to satisfy a certain audience that isn't very responsive to certain issues. But I think that the media should create that demand for this kind of news by "harassing" us with information. This way, when I read in three different newspapers and on 10 different websites and see on 5 different TV channel the same topic being approached, then I think that it must be important. And that doesn't mean that I will be able to change the world if I'm aware of the facts, but I can sure contribute somehow. Look at climate change; ten years ago it was talked about, but wasn't yet "a massive issue"; today, it's in our every day news – so more people recycle, buy smaller more environmentally friendly cars, take the public transport, print less papers, etc.

The power of the media is quite often misused in our societies today and we need adjust it. It might not be a fair way of doing things but it would/could at least show some results. Because what is happening today is extremely unfair to a large part of the world's population and if we are only looking at the reasonable way out, it would take us a hundred years to reach our goal (not that the media use in unreasonable, but it's a benefit that is easily abused) - and God knows how many problems we would have invented in the meantime. We need to be more aware of what is happening around us in order to be able to make the right decisions.

1 comment:

  1. I think your article is very nice and i fully agree with you - media should focus on important matters more than it is today.