Monday, April 17, 2006

UH 330 Media Review No. 4

CNN and the Beeb felt the need to put a picture of a first-responder, his white coveralls covered in several large splotches of blood, on the front page of their respective webpages. What happened? A car bombing in a market in the town of Mahmoudiya (alternately spelled Mahmudiya), killing perhaps eight people (CNN and Al Jazeera or ten people (BBC).

Eight people dead. If eight Americans were killed on our own soil, perhaps by a crazed teenager at a high school, or a disgruntled postal worker, it would make the evening news for days. Experts would be featured on broadcasts, it would be the talk of the watercooler at the next day’s coffee break. All three articles about the Mahmoudiya car bombing mention the car bombing and then go on to other events in Iraq such as American raids and other incidences of insurgent violence. The CNN article devotes two sentences to the car bombing, the BBC and Al Jazeera one sentence each.

What a disconnect. The loss of eight (or ten) lives is not insignificant. All three websites featured articles about the car bombing on their front pages. CNN and the BBC showed a gruesome image, a blood-covered man and a person shrouded in black cloth on a stretcher. And yet, each website only devoted one or two sentences to the event.

Why? Why show a gruesome picture and not have any significant details of the event? Ratings, of course. Or, rather, in the case of the web, page-views. One should not be surprised by an American news-source stooping to such lows, but we traditionally view the BBC with respect. Surely if they were to cover a story, they would actually cover it in some depth. And we might expect Al Jazeera to have more details, if only because of their intimate relationship with Iraq and much of the Middle East. But no, we get a single image and a sentence.

If not even the BBC or Al Jazeera will cover an event where several presumably innocent people were cut down, what does it say about the nature of the occupation? Death has become commonplace in Iraq, a car bombing is a non-story. Fashionistas like to say that pink is the new black this season, perhaps this decade will bring the saying that Iraq is the new Israel (or perhaps the new Ireland), with car bombings and other acts of terrorism become common, even ubiquitous.