onsdag, oktober 10, 2007

Good news is no news

In Swedish radio one yesterday discussed the problems concerning news coverage and how biased it tends to become.

For a while the situation in Burma have been in focus but already now the journalists are moving towards other areas in the world.
This is perhaps most noticeable in European journalism.

I can't back that up with statistics but when I listen to Swedish news versus news from the BBC, French and German medias for example, it' s very much the same issues that are discussed.
In Sweden it seems though as if we have greater problems than other countries in focusing on a number of different subjects at the same time. This might not be unique for Sweden but I can only talk about my experiences from this country with some certainty.

Historically, journalists in Sweden have also neglected reporting on the development in South and Central America for example.

Only when it comes to big, revolutionizing events and when things have gone bad we can find a more profound interest from Swedish jounalists.

The era under Augusto Pinochet in Chile or when the Argentinean military seized power or when other military coups have occured, we can see that these events catch the attention of Swedish journalists.

Another area that have been covered is the drug trades and violence in countries like Bolivia for example.

Africa is also a continent that mostly is described as a part of the world where great problems dominate the everyday life of people in different countries. Of course Africa is a continent with great problems, like famine, different kinds of diseases that kills millions of people, violence in connection to either the rule in a country or the war and conflicts between different governmental and non governmental groups.
There are however also positive development going on in the different African countries and this ought to be displayed more often.

The countries in the former Yugoslavia are almost forgotten due to other conflict areas.
As one person from one of these countries said in an interview: "Where are the journalists now when we are trying to build up the country?"
A journalist answered this by saying that "Good news is no news".

The focus on the Middle East does not stand in proportion to other conflicts in the world either. Why then this coverage on almost a daily bases from Israel and Palestine?
Because the problems there are more serious than other conflicts and wars in the world? No. One answer could of course be - as a Swedish journalist pointed out - that Europe still is trying to 'repay a dept' not least to the Jewish community because of the atrocities during the second World War. This reason is of course not a valid one.

Now the focus also have been on the two Korean states and the meeting between their two leaders a couple of days ago. What came out of it? More or less nothing I would say. The only thing they agreed on was to start a process towards a peace treaty but not to sign one.

In the USA the focus of their foreign policy coverage is mostly Iraq and Afghanistan. This is maybe in a way understandable but as always one tend to wonder why this big - and according to their leaders great - country can't focus on other issues with the same energy at the same time.

"Good news is no news" contains in itself perhaps the most logical answer to the lack of news telling us about the more succesful developments in different parts of the world.
With the internet it's of course easier to find information on other issues if one study internetmedia working more or less independently from other more established news agencies.

Why is questions like these important?
Well, how well informed we are concerning the development in the world affects our standpoint in different issues. It affects for example our willingness to economically support different purposes in the work carried out by governments and NGO:s in different countries around the world. This in turn affects how efficient the work they carry out will be effectuated.
This in turn is of great interest, not least to the people living in these countries.

Look for information everywhere, not only in your local newspaper! Engage yourself!
Why should I engage myself in issues I can't influence?
Well I can't argue for why more than point out the very obvious that it might be you who's in need for help next time. If then people who could help you abandon you...?
This is exactly what the wealthier part of the world does; the inhabitants and more specifically the politicians and the journalists.

(Photo Burmese monks copied from: http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1240/1457812694_46fb2b9040.jpg)
(Photo logo The European Journalism Centre copied from: http://b.vimeocdn.com/ps/119/444/1194442_300.jpg)
(Map South America copied from: http://www.ducksters.com/geography/flagmaps/south_america.jpg)
(Photo Augusto Pinochet copied from: http://msmonterossosfacebookpage.wikispaces.com/file/view/Pinochet2.jpg)
(Photo drug trafficking copied from: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/blogs/thelede/posts/0105tijuana.jpg)
(Map the African continent copied from: http://www.africaguide.com/images/africa_map.gif)
(Map Yugoslavia copied from: http://balkansnet.org/yugo1.gif)
(Map the Middle East copied from: http://i.infoplease.com/images/mapmiddleeast.gif)
(Map Korea copied from: http://www.asiaworld.tk/wp-content/uploads/Seoul-korea-map-1.jpg)
(Map Iraq copied from: http://go.hrw.com/atlas/norm_map/iraq.gif)

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