Outrage of the Week: Sloppy, lazy media leaves us ignorant of the wider world
Now for the Outrage of the Week. This is a somewhat different one, as it is not driven by some particular event or cause but rather is the result of a continual frustration.
I have undoubtedly made it clear by now that I am not impressed with our mainstream news media. It is, overall, lazy, too focused on trivialities and personalities rather than substance, more concerned with entertaining than informing, overly enamored of the technology of how the news is presented rather than the content of it, so committed to a false notion of "balance" that it equates neutrality with never reaching a conclusion, and so devoted to audience-generating usefulness of "conflict" that it claims scientific or scholarly "controversy" where none exists - think evolution and global climate change. The result is to leave us as a people uninformed, malinformed, and misinformed.
One aspect of that is that we are an incredibly parochial people, uniformed about and largely uninterested in the world around us except as it directly affects us, often enough leaving us gazing at some world event with dull eyes empty of understanding.
Harsh words, I know, but let me give you a sense of what I mean. I'm going to give you some headlines - just headlines, except where I may add a sentence or two to give necessary context. As I go through this list, all of which came from a single source on a single day a few days ago, ask yourself how many of these things you have even heard about and of those you have, what if anything you know about them beyond the headline.
Here's the list:
"Car bomb kills seven in eastern Libya"
(Did you know there has been civil war in Libya ever since we helped kick out Muammar Qaddafi?)
"Temperatures soar in deadly Egypt heatwave"
"Heat wave hits some European countries, more wildfires reported"
"3 security men injured in Heliopolis bomb explosion"
(Heliopolis is a suburb of Cairo, Egypt.)
"Germany gets tough on Balkan migration"
"Turkish security forces reel from wave of attacks"
"US Consulate Targeted Amid Turkey Attacks"
"Greece closes in on third bailout deal"
"7 injured in suicide blast near Kabul airport"
(You remember there is still a war in Afghanistan, yes?)
"More Than 1.3 Million Acres of Paddy Fields in Burma Destroyed by Floods"
(Which means the lose of 1.3 million acres of food production.)
"Burkina Faso calls for aid as floods set to worsen"
(Burkina Faso is a nation in western Africa.)
"Iraq PM rolls out sweeping reforms"
(You do remember Iraq, right? A war and stuff?)
El Salvador is now the world's most dangerous country outside a war zone.
"Militants again firing from multiple rocket launchers at Ukrainian army positions near Starohnativka"
"Seoul blames North Korea for mine blast, vows response"
(Bombs had been planted in mines near the border; South Korea accuses North Korea of doing it.)
There have been gun battles between police and rebels in Kashmir, a province on the India-Pakistan border claimed by both and which has been the cause of two wars.
"Yemen's loyalist forces push Houthi rebels from Aden"
(Remember the civil war in Yemen? The one the US has been involved in, doing done drone strikes?)
Haiti voted in elections marred by disorder and delays, elections that had been stalled for four years.
And finally for this list, twenty-one people have died and 185,000 have been forced from their homes from a typhoon that hit China this week after it had pelted Taiwan with 40 inches of rain in two days, leaving three dead, 185 injured, and three-quarters of a million without electricity.
Okay, again ask yourself how many of those events you had even heard of and of those, how many you knew anything about beyond the headline itself, how many you could put in a broader context.
The fact that you likely knew of few of them and little beyond the handful of words is not an indictment of you. It is an indictment of our national mainstream news media. It is an outrage.
Sources cited in links:
Headlines obtained from one day's listing at Worldpress.org (http://www.worldpress.org/) plus one update on the typhoon and one on the Haitian elections.