What do you mean Africa isn’t a country?

Somalia? Is that some sort of cereal or something? Unfortunately the majority of  less informed Australians would have this response. You would have to say ‘Africa’ to help them understand, and if you were to ask them anything that they know about Africa, the typical responses would be hunger, poverty and cute orphans. This in my opinion is the media’s fault. More specifically, the western media on global issues. Now I’m not saying that there is a lack of global news networks because there are many. CNN International and BBC world news to name a few. They have the ‘prerequisites’ of being a global news source which is their news reaching people in multiple countries. The issue I’m going to raise is the amount of emphasis these “global” news stories have on the western world and the lack of emphasis on “the rest” of the world.

The recent shooting in a US naval base where 13 people were killed is a prime example of my issue. This story made headlines all over Australian television and presumably all over the world. But my question is, why does this make global headlines whilst there is a countless number of people dying in Africa everyday and never being reported? It could be because America is the most powerful and influential country in the planet or we are just content with how the western media currently portrays the “others”. I personally believe that it’s because we have become used to only hearing about the western world in multiple common interest forms. Whether it is gossip, sport or politics. The only time we are remotely interested about the “others” is when the media emphasises the spectacle of the place. Whether it is another car bombing in the middle east or an AIDS breakthrough in Africa. Do we hear about the latest beauty paegent controversy in Africa or an Iraqi actor that died? No. Peter lee Wright explains that “Globalisation has produced a countervailing ‘domestication’ of stories, where the international has to be filtered through domestic sensibilities and interests.” (pp.2)

We need to question and re-evaluate the actual news values of “global” media organisations. Why is it that we put so much emphasis on petty global news like Miley Cyrus’s controversial new video clip and why we categorise Africa as a country when reporting on it? Even I have become a victim to generalising Africa. Lee Wright puts it into perspective saying ” what does the continuing coverage tell us about the values of news organisations, when comparing the prominence and priority accorded by different western news outlets?

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One thought on “What do you mean Africa isn’t a country?

  1. Pingback: Reflection on International Media | Wheres the Seasoning?

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