Marquette Wire

BEG: Non-Western news deserves more mainstream coverage

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

Photo by Andrew Himmelberg

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A bomb was dropped on a children’s school bus in Yemen by a Saudi-led coalition warplane Aug. 9. The warplane that killed 40 children and 11 adults was sold to the U.S.-supported Saudi group by the United States, according to CNN World. Local authorities said that 79 other people, 56 being children, were wounded in the process as well.

I am telling the story of this incident because I have a strong, fearful hunch that much of the public was unaware of what occurred that day. You might also not be aware of the appalling increase in civilian casualties caused by the alliance between Saudi Arabia and the United States. In American journalism, the lives of white people have always had greater gravity than any other race.

America is not the only contributor to blame in the Yemen tragedy, but, due to the 2017 United States-Saudi Arabia arms deal, they are in fact a reason that 40 children lost their lives that day. The United Nations’ reports indicate that this is not the only case of civilian casualties. The numbers keep rising, with 236 civilian deaths marking April as having the most innocent blood spilled this year.

Red Cross placed many of its nurses in Yemen to tend to the victims of violent disasters. Marta Rivas Blanco, a nurses who tended to the injured and dying patients after the attack, later wrote an essay published in The Guardian recounting the day’s horrific events, stating “the sound of children screaming keeps replaying.”

Coverage of this event appeared in traditional news outlets, such as CNN or the New York time. But readers will only find it if you they for it. Stories like this are often relegated to international sections and rarely make the front page. They almost never puncture the news cycle and generate a discussion.

Major publications do not report on the daily deaths and violence against Palestinian people at the hands of the Israeli occupation. News sites do not emphasize the disastrous typhoon that is currently destroying the Philippines. News broadcasts do not make the suicide bombings in Somalia their top stories.

American news fails to inform the public on major events that occur in non-Western countries to non-white people. Every person has the responsibility to be an informed global citizen and recognize what is going on beyond the confines of their own borders, but the news conglomerates that have power in this country do not publicize the information.

There is the argument that news is only newsworthy if the events occur close to the audience members and affect their lives. The proximity and effect rule would apply if reporters solely focused their content on that, but this is not the case. The mold that news content many times choose to focus on is the image of the innocent, peaceful white Westerners being attacked by radical terrorists who are falsely labelled as part of Islam.

In 2015, there was a series of terrorist acts that occurred in Paris which resulted in 137 deaths. My high school’s weekly TV series dedicated an entire episode to discuss and give its thoughts on the event. The fact that there was a whole episode emphasizes how the youth and its opinions are directly influenced by what kind of content American news chooses to portray following the attacks. All of America was aware of what occurred in Paris  and stood in solidarity with the city.

The impact or proximity of the viewers was not a concern for this news story; the reporters discussed it anyway. Public awareness of the tragic events and horrible deaths was still imperative, but what made the lives of the Parisians more essential to report than the Yemeni children?

Those affected in 2015 were natives of a Western country, so for some reason this made them more susceptible to awareness and coverage. The stories that the news chooses to focus on measures the importance of those who are involved. Western events continue to make top headlines when just as many casualties and disasters occur all around the world, many times through the hands of our own politicians.

News corporations choose to turn a blind eye just because the disasters do not fit a certain mold.

It is very problematic that Western content constantly uses these events as the image of radical terrorists. This wrongly connects the terrorists with Islam when there is in fact no correlation between the two. The word Islam has now been used as an adjective before terrorist, which creates a completely distorted view of the religion. Additionally, this ignores the large number of attacks against other races and religions —especially Muslims — by terrorists that occur globally and often.

American news corporations cannot continue to stretch to the farthest extent to try to connect a Western crisis to the not-at-all-Muslim terrorists.

In no way are the lives of our own or other Westerners less important or horrid, but others must get the same recognition.

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