What’s in the news?

I tried to find out some information about the major earthquake in Sichuan, China, however, it’s almost hidden in the newspapers as the earthquake is not major news in the UK, comparing to Boston bombing. Today, I bought the Sunday Times, and expected the earthquake news to be easily found. It isn’t. From the front page to page 5, the news is dominated by Boston bombing, in great details. The China earthquake news is on the bottom right of pg 33 (the main section has only 34 pages of news).

Sunday Times front page Sunday Times Sunday Times Sunday Times
I felt a sense of despair trying to find out what else happened around the world in the past week. The news, online or paper, has been clearly dominated by the Boston bombing. Needless to say, the whole world is saddened by this tragic news. However, there has been other events around the world, such as earthquake in Iran, bird flu in Shanghai, Baghdad bombing on Thursday (27 people died, including 2 children), earthquake in Sichuan, China (more than 150 people died), avalanche in Colorado and others.

I used this opportunity to discuss with my son about bias and editorial choices in the news. The value of life should be equal, however, you’ll find lives in some countries are considered more precious than those in other parts of the world. Some people are mourned, but most nameless people are not. It’s terribly sad.

By the way, if you want to read about the front page of 800 newspapers worldwide, you’ll find them here on this interesting site, newseum. It may help us see the world from different perspectives, and see how other newspapers see the world, and how viewpoints are projected differently.

21 thoughts on “What’s in the news?

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Dear Jamie,

      Thank you. I’m surprised to get quite a few feedback of my view. I think I’m just exhausted by all the trivia and silliness around the Boston reporting. We’re all saddened by the tragic news, but dramatising the event doesn’t help us transcend.

      Please keep up with your poems.

      1. Jamie Dedes

        I totally agree with you. I think we also have to remember that everywhere in the world there is pain. Not to trivialize our pain, but we’re not the only ones.

        Thanks for the encouragement, Janet. Blog on …

  1. amphomma

    Perhaps you’ve also heard about the outcry in America from defenders of life when an abortion doctor went on trial and there was pretty much no media coverage. There is definitely bias. It is difficult to find all the news sometimes. Good for you, using it as a teachable moment with your son. May we all extend compassion and prayers to everyone touched by tragedy and death, knowing it is more than we see!

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Bias used by powerful people can be turned into the truth. It’s therefore very dangerous. Thank you for sharing your thought and I agree with you that the minority, or less favourable viewpoints are often being ignored.

  2. Bill Hayes

    This week highlights the fact that the life of an 8 year old boy in Boston is worth more than an 8 year old child killed by American Drone attacks in Pakistan or the Yemen. Let alone 200 poor souls in China. I was guilty of it. I saw various news reports about the China Quake – empathised momentarily – before my attention went back to the current news movie we were being fed at this moment.

    But then again, I doubt that many people in China has missed much sleep over the Boston Bombings. It’s the way that the jungle drums beat. There is only so much that we can deal with.

    It is the blessing and the curse of the mass communications system we have. Over here, the newswires and the net is buzzing with what’s happening in our back yard. Likewise, in China, the communications systems are not wasting too much time on our problems they have enough to deal with. On the other hand, before all this stuff, we wouldn’t even know about the China Quake for weeks after it had happened.

    I do hope that you do not have people there, caught up in a bad situation.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Bill, I like your expression, news’ movie’. I feel like the whole bombing reporting has turned into a film. It has unfortunately trivialised the tragedy.

      I can get a bit grumpy when I can’t find the information that I consider important. Normally these are foreign events, more precisely, events in Asia. To be fair, I find the BBC is a good source of information on Asia. You can try its Chinese version: http://www.bbc.co.uk/zhongwen/simp/

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      I’ve used this word ‘insular’ in my new post. A Chinese saying goes, one type of rice breeds 100 types of human beings, and following this logic, possibly one type of the human being is insular. Thanks gods, there’re still 999 who’re not.

  3. Daniela

    Yes … some lives have always been a little bit more equal than others. What makes our reality is shaped by what we know … and what we know is filtered in one way or the other. To that end nothing but technology has changed through centuries.

    Great post,

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      Dear Daniela,

      People think that technology could narrow the gap between nations and culture and improve understanding, but the link is not always necessary. You and I are both outsiders in an adopted country and perhaps we might see the world slightly differently. The danger is that as I’ve lived here long enough, sometimes I become so used to the differences and even accepting certain practices as norms. I try not to lose my sensitivity. Thanks for being in touch and please keep up with your wonderful writing.

  4. Ruby

    there is some “rule” for news coverage: something like 1000 deaths in another continent is worth 100 deaths in a nearby county is worth 10 deaths in your won country is worth 1 death in your own county. However, we do seem to get a lot more news from US than we do from some European countries.

    1. Janet Williams Post author

      This maths is logical normally, but when you have a white man/woman who dies/injures in another continent where 999 people are non white, then this will still get headline news.

      1. Ruby

        Years back, when I lived in a shared house (and had a TV!) my house mates and I would joke about how the local TV news would often repeat the national news, but try to find a local angle.

  5. ShimonZ

    There’s too much going on in this world for everyone to follow it. But there were many who ached at the news of this terrible earth quake.

  6. Ruby

    A tornado hit Auckland a few months ago. I only heard about it from my family who live in New Zealand. I searched in vain for even the briefest report in the UK news. I’m not sure what point I’m making – I think it’s that although there is a lot of detailed coverage we can;’t find (like the earthquake in China and Iran), there is even more that we don’t even her about in the first place.

    Incidentally, I did hear something about the Iran earthquake on the radio on Monday evening – however, it was on a science programme rather than a news programme.

  7. JoV

    I remember back home in Malaysia I was more attuned to world news with diverse and balanced reports around the world. Ever since I came over, I just find all news are so one dimensional, as if there is nothing outside USA or UK or Europe; and it drones on and on and on. I empathise with you.

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