Lazy Journalists Attack

As you can see in the screen capture of a twit below, even Israelis are getting tired of the lopsided coverage of the ongoing, never ending, ridiculous Israel-Palestine conflict that we’ve had with us for over a half century now. As always, this latest bout has been a massive loss of life and a horrid continuation of a war that just won’t stop that ends up killing countless civilians in its wake. But, these things happen everywhere in the world. Why is it that when say, the Rwanda Genocide was happening, we heard nearly nothing about it in the us?
I find it amazing that a local paper I read a great deal like the SF Chronicle goes along with local coverage of news and events. The occasional US national item will pop in there and then BAM, 200 killed in Gaza Strip offensive. Yet, there is no coverage about the peaceful elections taking place today in Ghana or in any events happening in the rest of Africa unless of course it’s massive atrocity in the Congo.
It’s just the epitome of the lazy journalist and one of the reason that print media is dying. No one goes out and finds the stories anymore. Sure, they find out about what’s happening in Israel, but that’s their “go-to” foreign location. Anywhere else is largely ignored because trying to get there, digging in, and writing a proper story is too taxing and these days, too expensive despite the irony that flights cost a lot less than they did 20 years ago.
Yeah, I’ll admit that getting in to the Kivus of Eastern Congo isn’t the easiest place to get to, but Accra? Please… These aren’t cut off locations in the middle of nowhere. They’re large cities with regular flights and for the most part a great many have solid infrastructure that even the biggest loser newsman should be able to get around on.
Of course, as I’m reading “Chief of Station Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone” by Larry Devlin right now, I’m realizing that the US didn’t give a fat rip about Africa until about 1960 or so. This naturally gave the whole shebang in Israel a nice, decade plus to be in the news more before Africa was even realized to exist.
Lazy Journalists Attack

2 Replies to “Lazy Journalists Attack”

  1. I have to respectfully disagree, but disagree to the umpteenth degree. Journalists are not lazy. People who are lazy don’t become journalists because you cannot be a successful journalist if you are lazy. The problem you’re describing here is a real one, but not related to journalists not wanting to go to different places. It’s about newspapers slashing budgets that would otherwise enable cash strapped journalists, who cannot necessarily fund their own work related travels, to go to various locations to report. And finally, the reasons newspapers slash this part of their budget is about what the public wants to read and which papers they buy. Which is why People Magazine sells more copies than Foreign Policy, and why a newspaper cover about Israel will sell better than one with a cover about Ghana. What you’re describing here are major problems with mainstream media, but I think you are incorrect to blame lazy journalists. Most journalists jump at the chance to travel, it’s newspapers who don’t give them the chance to do so and consumers who don’t buy papers that would support newspapers in making such decisions.

  2. It’s definitely true that budgets are being slashed, but you still do run in to reporters in these areas. I met a good number of newsies in Kinshasa at MONUC who were busy working on the same exact stories that they keep churning out of Congo.
    But, this is a side issue. My main point is that Israel stories have become to the go-to for conflict because it is an accessible region that they just keep doing. In my example of the local newspaper is that they always pump out the Israel conflict wires when they happen, but next to nothing from Africa and never on the front page. I would never belittle the loss of life in Israel and Gaza, but at the same time, I find it insulting that media (at least in the US) always runs with what they’re comfortable with.
    As for the reader, I would guess that if you started to cut back on coverage of the Middle East and increase coverage of African issues, you’d see little change in the readership numbers for those stories. It would be more interesting to cover both equally though…
    I do agree that readers are to blame to a certain degree not seeking out these stories, but at the same time, if the stories aren’t there, it’s hard for them to get at. It’s the reason along with the professional inbreeding (again, in the US as that’s my only experience) which made me drop out of the field before pursuing graduate studies.

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