After reading Martin Belam’s piece on Medium about the The difficulty of getting people to read about Lahore — I couldn’t help but gather my own thoughts about the media’s approach to reporting the horrors of this world.
Belam is the Social & New Formats Editor for The Guardian in London and his stance is that despite the attention that was given to the unspeakable tragedy that befell the women and children who were struck by bomb blasts while celebrating Easter in a public park — the interest level for that story was starkly low.
Not enough readers gave the top story of the day the attention it warranted.
So, it’s not that the media doesn’t give places like Pakistan, Nigeria, Yemen, etc worthy coverage — the issue is that most readers aren’t responding accordingly.
I think Belam may be on to something. I think he’s correct in his assessment. He even has documented proof so he is definitely on the right track.
But there is so much more to this fascinating tale of public consumption and rejection. Including the psychotic immunity to violence against young innocent lives that currently stales our existence.
The media may play their part in covering all their bases when it comes to reportage but they absolutely don’t score high points when you examine the style they administer on specific destinations.
Let’s cut right into the heart of the matter.
When dolled up cities like Paris and Brussels get hit with ticking time bombs and showers of bullets — the media tends to glamorize the violence.
The backdrop of opulence and historical pillars of familiarity provide the right level of nostalgia for the privileged sect and immediately the heart strings are tugged and the personal avatars updated accordingly.
The presentation in print, on the web and on television is a glitzy affair propelled by glossy pictorials and dainty camera shots.
The victims of the ghastly occurrence are swept up in a frenzy of collages that again — give your heart a reason to skip a beat in recognition of such promising lives cut short at the command of unimaginable terror.
But the real culprit is the extra attention to detail and the gorgeous reporters sent to these equally gorgeous locations to gorgeously report on the ugliness of the situation.
The chosen aesthetics required to cover civilized countries that are victimized by barbaric acts is the reason why these stories get top billing and unrelenting traffic numbers. It explains why networks scrap everything for extensive coverage in order to secure the demanded quota.
It’s all so glamorous and eventful until it hits third world countries. That’s when things take a sharply different turn.
Suddenly the casting call fails to round up the beautiful and the ambitious. The props don’t provide a similar tide of indulgence to offset the smoky air and devastated plains.
It’s a dreary, dowdy and dull delivery that fails to capture the essence of why the prim and pampered should waste tears and stifled heartbeats.
The tone is adequately somber in an insultingly boring kind of way as reporters, anchors and writers dole out the news in stoically robotic mode.
It’s almost a nagging and off-putting experience to be confronted with the unimaginative rhetoric of the woefully downtrodden roaming amidst the bloody ruins and sandy streets.
These areas don’t get the five star treatment because they are cities of the damned.
The act of seduction when covering these places that have been marked as hopeless is direly low brow and ultimately lacking in quality and zeal.
The media just basically goes through the motions because it has to be done. But the reward for such dedication pales in comparison to the gold stars that accompany anywhere nestled in western civilization.
So, yeah, we’ve been trained to seek bedazzlement in just about everything on display by the media — even when limbs are catapulted in the air and the fires are still burning.
But when the war torn areas happen to lie in the far corners of the earth. In the depths of sheer desperation and in the peaks of unfamiliarity — hidden by the curtain of poverty and astute negligence.
The level of interest wanes and the anticipated hail of empathy and dismay falls short. The list of victims is reduced to spotty images that weigh less than a blink of an eye.
Eye witness accounts provide empty promises of what transpired and careless reporters mix up the language of truth as comfortable nonchalance takes over.
They don’t care. We don’t care. And the rubble and dirt in the background forces us to click away in the silent assumption that just visiting the page was enough to honor the terror of the day.
That’s what we’ve become and that’s how the media won.