There’s now a familiar backlash to the wall-to-wall coverage of breaking news events such as this week’s carnage in Paris. The critics focus on the imbalance of media reporting on terrorism in Western countries and coverage of similar attacks in the rest of the world.
Media organisations are businesses, many on the brink of bankruptcy, and slavishly surrender to their reader-overlords. “If it clicks, it sticks” explains why Donald Trump makes the world’s front pages while Beirut, Burundi and Boko Haram don’t. That’s true not just for terrorist attacks, and like every thinking person I wish it weren’t.
But how about those who blame the media for not knowing about this one thing somewhere in the world they just learned about but were so moved by that they need to post it on Facebook right now? Surely they didn’t think all was great in those parts of the world they don’t hear about in their favorite radio station’s one-minute news break.
It is easier than ever to get news from around the world. You can literally google “Africa news” and find AllAfrica, a site compiling stories from over 100 news sources across the continent. The good people of the internet have built lists of must-follow Twitter accounts for every region and issue in the world. Al Jazeera, France 24 or Deutsche Welle have reporters in places I couldn’t even find on a map.
If their stories click, they’ll stick, and maybe that’s already happening. Buzzfeed, of former cat listicle fame, recently named its first correspondent in West Africa. VICE, whose traditional expertise lies in hookers, drugs and silly stunts, did some of the best reporting on Burundi’s controversial elections in the English-speaking world.
Now People Like You™ need to prove there’s more than pretend demand for such coverage. Because right now, that’s the problem:
…to say that the media don’t cover terrorism attacks outside of Europe is a lie. They do. But as anyone working in the news will tell you, if you look at your analytics, people don’t read them very much.
If you still don’t know what’s happening in the world, don’t blame the media – that’s on you.