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August 09, 2007

Media "Failed in Fairly Distributing Relevant Information"

A Brazilian native writing in the Jerusalem Post criticizes the discrepancy between media coverage of the Arab-Israeli conflict and coverage of the situation in his home town of Rio de Janeiro:

[W]hile poverty, violence, disease and death are turning my city into a shambles, the tragedy of the hillside slums in Rio are largely accepted as the status quo by the media ...."

He notes that in the beginning of a documentary about the slums of Rio,

a screen shot in bold white letters printed over a black background offers perturbing statistics: While 467 minors were killed in Israel and the Palestinian Authority between 1987 to 2001 (a date which includes the first intifada), 3,937 minors were killed as a result of gang warfare in Rio de Janeiro alone - an 8 to 1 ratio.

NONE OF the reviews have focused on this alarming fact and the message that the Brazilian directors intended to convey by this statistic. Why does a documentary that stresses the suffering and longing of the youth in the favelas of Rio care about the deaths of minors in Israel and the Palestinian territories? Because disproportionate media attention has been given to hyped conflicts such as Israel-Palestine and Kosovo, framing the public perception to believe that those conflicts are in fact the ones in most dire need of international aid.

A questionnaire given at a "War and Peace" course at an Australian university asked 37 students to list what they thought were the three deadliest conflicts in the world as well as the conflict they thought, in terms of humanitarian conditions, was in most need of a solution.

The most prevalent answer to the first question was the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with nine students saying it was the deadliest conflict. To the second question, 21 students responded that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was most urgently in need of a solution. In both cases, the students, who presumably study topics in international relations, seem to have a misperception that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the most ghastly of all.

The students are wrong.

His conclusion: "I blame it on the media. The media is critical in setting the political agenda, and it has failed in fairly distributing relevant information."

Read the piece here.

Posted by GI at August 9, 2007 05:16 PM


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