The Problem with Western Media
Western Society has been built on knowledge, particularly from the Restoration period. We have advanced in technology, medicine, human behaviour and the psychology behind it – the list is endless. It is without question that Western society has made a huge impact on the entire world!
The media is present to improve our worldly knowledge and there is by no means a lack of information given to us about nearly every part of the world.
So what is the issue with the media?
Whilst documentaries on BBC or other channels inform us about wild life, flowers and fauna and dazzle us with their natural beauties, it is very rare to find a positive image of those actually living in these foreign lands. To us the people in these countries are almost always portrayed as uncivilised and exotic, as if the rest of the world is for the entertainment of a few.
Countries not agreeable to the western ideology also suffer under the scrutiny of the media.. For example, the Rio Olympics – up until it started, all of the media news with regards to the Olympic preparation was largely negative, highlighting financial issues, high crime rates and hygiene problems. However, with the Olympics going extremely well, attention was diverted to the success of team GB, therefore disguising our prejudices. Most of the modern world is modelled on the West and as soon as a person or a group does not fit the mould, they are defamed and criticised by the media.
No more than forty years ago, Margaret Thatcher branded the ANC as a terrorist organisation, grouping Nelson Mandela within this (1). Nevertheless, as the world opinion overwhelmingly became critical of apartheid, the system now needed him and Nelson Mandela was hailed as a hero and revolutionist.
Another shocking example of this temperamental and dangerous western mind-set can be seen in the coverage of Libya in recent years. Most people will have to cast their mind back quite a few years to remember any mention of Libya in the news and the horrific and worsening conditions there. At the time, Gaddafi was a target for the West, his ideals completely clashing with and threatening ours. However, only days after his death, there was calm in the media about that country and very rarely was it mentioned on the front pages or in the news. With the whole country still in ruin and crisis, no central government, and factions fighting for the spoils of the civil war, the western media no longer cares to relate to us what is happening, as it is no longer our concern. However with another crisis brewing up – that of the hundreds and thousands of refugees landing on the shores of Western Europe – suddenly the attention of the media had turned to the possible causes, and so, Libya might once again come into the focus.
What is the solution to this issue of misinformation, brainwashing and lies? As nice as it would be to have honest, well-meaning people in power, this is a fantasy; so it falls to us to put the power in our own hands. Perhaps the most important thing one can do is to get our news from more than one source and more than one opinion. Though it might be easy and convenient to watch BBC news for a quick update in your busy life, this is exactly the sort of culture we should be concerned about; we have become susceptible to believing whatever we hear, as we do not have the time to question it or verify the information. We have become too trusting. Do not let this stop us from being educated, then use our own grey matter to reach a conclusion.
Take the recent news of 62 Syrian soldiers supposedly being killed in US air attacks. The few news outlets that did report it spun it with news titles such as ‘it is possible that the USA bombed 62 Syrian soldiers’ (2), virtually painting the USA as blameless; most did not mention the incident at all. It is thought-provoking to imagine how different news coverage would have been, had it been another country that had committed the same offence to the USA.
Be sceptical. Just like in school where we must verify our sources in essays; we should apply these same principles in real life. Naturally the media will corrupt the news to support certain points of view whilst rejecting others; we must study them and make up our own minds.
Western media may not be evil but it would be wise to approach anything we are told with an inquisitive mind and to always be open to understanding different points of view, understanding that often there are many things happening in this world which we will not be told about but we must find out for ourselves.