Thoughts on South African and international politics and culture

Monday, September 26, 2005

Filtered news
A column in today's Washington Post brings a familiar issue to the fore - the reporting of news in race-related cases. The article outlines two fatal shootings that occurred in Washington, which were reported very differently. As you may expect from the column rationale, the murder of the white citizen was front page news with interviews and neighbourly expressions of condolence, whilst the black citizen's murder was a three-line story tucked away in the newspaper.

This type of nuanced discrimination happens daily in newspapers all over the world, and South Africa is one of the most advanced proponents. South African society has become so desensitised to township murder and crime that it seems that these stories routinely go unreported, whilst stories of the murder of white people in other areas are hailed as examples of our slipping society.

Whilst reporters and publishers will undoubtedly say that this is the reason that it makes the news, that it is rare in these geographic areas of society, this does not seem to be a sustainable argument. It shows a inherent weakness in the logic used as it makes a definite determination of the value of the respective life. It is an issue that demands more attention from both readers and publishers alike.