Sunday, September 04, 2005
Katrina: Understanding the subtleties of American Journalism
Hurricane katrina has wrecked havoc in the Gulf Coast. While feeling sorry for the people who have been affected, I could not help but notice certain subleties. Firstly why doesn't the US media put figures on the number of victims. We hear 'hundreds' and 'thousands' attributed to someone, but the media isn't dishing out numbers as yet. This is in stark contrast to other countries atleast India where we get numbers as early as the first day. I guess its official policy of these broadcasters to hide such figures. I don't know whether its good or bad but I find this strange nevertheless. As an aside will the US media ever disclose how many innocent Iraqis and Afghans have been killed by US forces? I guess not. While going through various news reports, I could see that most if not all of the victims were colored. (Using this term for want of a better word). Then there were these reports of large scale looting and arson. Little latter the New Orleans Mayor (colored) burst out on an interview. Things were getting curious. Then I chanced upon a report that US Congressional Black Caucas had termed the federal response to the tragedy as shameful. Surely there was more to it than that met the eye! But according to the US media, it was all quiet on the eastern sea board! Then for the first time in five days, I read the international coverage of the tragedy. To my surprise I found news stories on BBC News and The Times of India which made no effort to hide the racial tension between the predominantly white establishment and the poor black victims. This is disturbing. Also where are those reports of brave firefighters (Alright NY firefighters are the only incarnations of God!) going out of their way to save the victims? Instead we have news reports of Police officers turning up their badges refusing to risk a night patrol! May be I'm reading too much from mere coincidences. Maybe not! As a veteran news consumer, I can safely give this advice. While reading news from US media, there is always scope to read between the lines!! Afterall this is a country where two governements have successfully used the media (with blatant lies, ofcourse) to plunge their people into two totally unjustified wars in Vietnam and Iraq.