22 January, 2015

Media coverage of Charlie Hebdo and the Baga massacre: a study in contrasts

Media coverage of Charlie Hebdo and the Baga massacre: a study in contrasts:

There are many reasons why the attacks on targets in Paris have received vastly more media attention than the attacks in Baga.

Paris is a highly connected global city with thousands of working
journalists, while Baga is isolated, difficult and dangerous to reach.
The attacks on Charlie Hebdo targeted journalists, and it’s
understandable that journalists would cover the death of their comrades.
The attacks in Paris were a shock and a surprise, while deaths at the
hands of Boko Haram have become distressingly common in an insurgency
that has claimed over 10,000 lives since 2009.

The details of the Baga attacks, where civilians fled a marauding army into the swamps of Lake Chad, where they faced attacks from hippos, are almost impossible for audiences in developed nations to empathize with.

By contrast it’s tragically easy for most North Americans and Europeans to imagine terrorists striking in their cities.

The net effect: the attacks in Baga and Maiduguri seem impossibly
distant, while the attacks in Paris seem local, relevant and pressing
even to people equidistant from the two situations.

In part, it’s hard to imagine events in Nigeria because we encounter so little African news in general.