Friday, 28 November 2008

Terror Fatigue

I have to admit that events in Mumbai have not moved me the way they should.
I woke up yesterday to find an email from my Chairman expressing sympathy with the people of India and solidarity with their plight, and then advising us not to go near the place. Strange, i thought, must be like Mandy commenting on Strictly Come Dancing or Gordon Brown telling off Russell Brand...
So i turned on the tv, and was immediately confronted by pictures of burning hotels and crying locals, while a suit shouted down a dodgy phone line that "its impossible to say how many Britons are involved." The ticker along the bottom said there were 100 dead, but it seemed on every channel that this number was irrelevant and meaningless until it could have a little asterisk attached with the phrase "x Britons among the dead." I have ranted before about how many foreign lives equal one Englishman, and it does seem that man made disasters are the natural home of this racism. Floods, earthquakes and tsunamis all seem to touch some human spirit and people respond to the "1000s dead" without demanding to know how many were English.
Yesterday the woman reading the BBC news almost fainted with excitement when they confirmed that one of the dead was German. And later when the first Englishman was confirmed no one seemed to care it was someone who had lived in India for most of his life, was dark skinned and spoke the local language. The terrorists would not have known he was not local, but for the news anchors this was the biggest moment of the day.
So i turned off the news.
Enough terrorist destruction for one day, i thought of the low paid, exploited hotel workers who had been cruelly and stupidly killed, and I carried on my pampered life....


Jonny Mac said...

Disagree Dno. It is about interest and relevance to the viewer, which are the lights by which TV news live, not moral judgements. It can seem distateful, but it is not, in itself, saying that the death of a Briton is more important than the death of an Indian.

Perhaps it shows an excessive sensitivity to race on your part?Would you make the same point if a coach crash in Algeria in which ten people were killed, 8 of them British, were given more coverage here than such a coach crash in which 8 Swiss were killed? If not, why not?

Another example. I would want to be told about a pile-up on the M1 in which nine people were killed. I wouldn't be interested in a similar pile-up on the main highway between Mombassa and Dar es Salaam. I want my TV news to tell me about the former but not the latter. Does that make me a racist?

dNo said...

A good attempt at an argument, Sir Mac, but you are of course entirely wrong!
You are right, i no more care about 8 Brits dying than i do 8 Swiss dying - maybe that is the bottom line - i just dont want to hear about anyone dying, and if it is such a momentous event (like Mumbai, but not a pile up on the motorway) then it matters not where they were born, only how and where they died.
You are not a racist, and i fear you are correct on the point that news viewers in the UK do want to hear about Brits dying around the world. I however would rather hear about something else...