Did you see the news on the TV last Tuesday that Iran had it’s biggest earthquake for over 40 years? No, neither did I.
That’s because last week, our news media chose to ignore the fact that something was happening in the world other than either here in the UK or America. It displayed a clear Anglo-American bias.
Yes it was one of the busiest news weeks of the year so far with the Boston marathon bombings on Monday and the funeral of Margaret Thatcher taking place on Wednesday here in the UK.
But both of these stories were surrounded with endless conjecture and analysis: stories of nostalgia of the Thatcher years, coverage of the so-called Thatcher death parties; banal discussion about ‘how Thatcherite’ you are (there’s even a Telegraph poll you can take). And then speculation over who was responsible for the Boston bombings (the two suspects had not been caught at this point), when nothing at all was known about the perpetrators and there weren’t even any leads.
Added to that was the explosion at the Waco fertiliser factory in Texas, British news outlets were awash with Anglo American stories.
Now I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have been talking about Margaret Thatcher’s death or remembering her life. I’m definitely not saying that we shouldn’t be giving airtime to the Boston marathon tragedy. All of these things deserve our attention, consideration, and depending on how Thatcherite you are, our sympathy.
But amidst all of this there seemed to be no room to tell us about the Iranian earthquake. That across the border in neighbouring Pakistan, 34 people from one village alone had been killed by it. That 150 people were injured. That 3,000 homes were destroyed and 19,000 people were left homeless. That the Pakistani army were deployed in Mashkel, the area hardest hit by Tuesday’s 7.8 magnitude earthquake, to help with the relief effort. Or that the quake was felt as far away as New Delhi- some 1,500 km from the earthquake’s epicentre, and that some skyscrapers and high rise buildings in the Gulf cities were evacuated as a precaution where tremors were also felt.
It just leaves me feeling indignant over the fact that our news often displays a clear Anglo-American bias. There are many ethnic minority communities here in Britain, TV license-fee paying viewers, who would want to know about major news stories from around the world. Scratch that- there are many people full-stop who would be interested to know about a devastating earthquake happening somewhere in the world.
It often is the case that we will only support a country, cover its news stories and help with its relief effort if we agree with their politics or with their human rights record. Which is a separate issue in itself. But in the meantime we leave innocent people to starve, bleed or die without a thought or a prayer- heck, our news-makers don’t even bother to tell us they are bleeding or dying. So what kind of a people does that make us?