Monday, September 12, 2005

Neglect of Darfur under scrutiny

By Indiana University Staff Editorial

September 11, 2005

One year ago today, the Bush administration declared the situation in Sudan constituted genocide.

Yet one year later, where does the international community stand? Have the killings stopped? Can we even point Darfur out on a map? And more importantly, do we even care?

Approximately 400,000 people have died in Darfur at the hands of the Janjaweed armed militia, and 200,000 have been forced to flee to the neighboring country of Chad. There have also been instances of rape and starvation, not to mention outbreaks of numerous infectious and deadly diseases within refugee camps.

With all this cruelty and devastation, we have to wonder, where is the media?

After the genocide of Rwanda, journalists vowed to “never again” allow such an incident to go uncovered, and yet, many Americans today remain ignorant about what’s happening in Sudan.

According to an articleby Sherry Ricchiardi of The American Journalism Review, in 2004, nightly newscasts at the three major networks dedicated a grand total of 26 minutes to the Darfur crisis.

We at the IDS feel the lack of media coverage on Darfur is unacceptable. We realize it is our duty, as journalists, to expose such events to the public.

We do not believe Americans feel apathy toward what is going on in Sudan, it’s simply that they are not aware of the situation.

Not everyone is completely ignorant to Darfur, however. Computer users can access information about the events in Sudan on the Internet at

Admittedly, gaining entrance into Darfur has proven difficult, and journalists, therefore, cannot readily access first-hand information. And with the war in Iraq taking center stage, much of the attention of news organizations has turned toward the Middle East. Hurricane Katrina has shoved Darfur further down the list of priorities for media coverage.

Even when some journalists have attempted to write about the genocide, their stories are often shoved into the inside pages of newspapers.

One could certainly make a case, however, that if more people were aware of this tragedy, they would be more interested in what is going on and try to find ways to get involved. Journalist Emily Wax of The Washington Post points out, “Most Americans don’t know where Sudan is,” and most won’t make an effort to find out until they’ve been given a good reason to.

Certainly, the U.S. government, as well as others around the world, have an obligation to help Darfur’s victims. However, we recognize it might take a spark of pressure in order to ignite such action, and it is up to the media to provide the matches.

No comments: