Friday, October 29, 2010

No Westerners Involved?? ... Make it Ordinary News

In the article, "The Symbolic Power of Transnational Media: Managing the Visibility of Suffering," Chouliaraki discusses two types of news coverage: ordinary and extraordinary. Ordinary news is when the station does not make human or emotional connections with the disaster that has occurred. An example of this is coverage on a capsized boat in India in which the only thing shown was a map with a dot giving the location of the boat. Extraordinary news shows rolling footage of the disaster, reporters are on the scene, and people are shown suffering and in need of assistance. An example of this type of news is the 2004 tsunami that hit southeast Asia.

After reading about this analysis of the coverage of suffering, the main concept that surprised me was her idea that the Western population only cares about news that relates to people 'like us.' My first response was, yeah right, there's no way that we only make the suffering of others extraordinary if Westerners are related or the the ones doing the suffering. Yet for every case I could think of, this was true. And if the news and infotainment is showing us what we want to see, then it is a personal reflection of what we care about. I guess we're not quite at the level of 'global consciousness' that we thought, if we do not even care about the suffering of people around the world.

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