If I asked you to name the deadliest conflict since the Second World War, what would you opt for?
The Korean War or Vietnam? Maybe the Balkan conflicts of the 90s or the current carnage in Syria?
What if I told you that it is none of these but the only recently abated violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
“5.4 million killed since the beginning of the second Congo war in 1998, equivalent to the population of Denmark “
…continuing to kill about 45,000 people each month- half of them children”
These are staggering statistics (and they are from 2008 so they got worse), but be honest now, how many of you even knew there had been a war going on in the DRC?
I can’t blame you because I must be honest enough to say that I knew very little about it myself.
This reminds us that unless we are prepared to diligently search out alternative sources of information we leave ourselves entirely reliant for our awareness of world events upon the mainstream media and its prioritisation of what matters.
But that media’s slanted values mean that its coverage will never even vaguely reflect the real body count of history. If it did then the carnage in the DRC would have been leading the news on our screens & in our newspapers nightly for years and it certainly was not.
The distasteful truth is that any study that set out to compare the proportion of media coverage in relation to the skin colour or ethnic group of the victims would yield damning results.
We may hashtag all we like that #blacklivesmatter but our media does not believe in that principle enough to apply it to far away African countries of which we know nothing - just as coverage of Israeli victims of violence pales into insignificance besides that given to Palestinians.
TV & newspaper editors make these choices every day and each time they do it they are making a value-judgement on other people’s lives.
Doubtless very little can actually be done about all of this except to be aware of it. What you hear about in today’s "news" is not really what is going on in the world but is someone else’s often jaundiced perception of what you need to know.
Remember that the next time tens of thousands of Africans lie dead whilst the BBC is gnashing its teeth over a stubbed toe in the Gaza Strip.