Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Media failures may prolong genocide

Oct 26th, 2005
By Roxana Olivera

Western lecturer Amanda Grzyb is blunt in her assessment that "news media bear a lot of responsibility for the extent of the Rwandan and Darfur genocides."

Speaking earlier this week to about 40 persons at the London Public Library, Grzyb was exploring the role of the North-American media during the Armenian Genocide (1915-1923), the Holocaust (1933-1945), the Rwandan Genocide (1994) and the Darfur Genocide (2003-present).

Grzyb, a lecturer in the Faculty of Media, Information and Technoculture, says inadequate news coverage tends to prolong genocides. She says all genocides go though eight distinguishable stages that ought to be apparent to journalists.

The stages include:

* classification

* symbolization

* dehumanization

* organization

* polarization

* preparation

* extermination

* denial

Grzyb says mainstream media often portray genocides as consequences of civil strife or civil war, and that "media coverage about Darfur was confused and inadequate."

Citing a New York Times article in connection with the Darfur Genocide, Grzyb told her audience that, "the real failure rested with television." ABC News had a total of 18 minutes in its nightly newscasts during 2004. NBC had only five minutes of coverage while CBS only had three minutes.

In contrast, "Martha Stewart received 130 minutes of coverage by the three networks," said Grzyb.

NBC failed to send TV crews to Darfur, yet managed to send Dianne Sawyer to Africa to interview Brad Pitt, she said.

Nonetheless, Gryb told her audience that, "the public had ultimate responsibility to become informed, to urge the media to cover stories accurately and to call on their politicians to intervene."

After the lecture, David Sanders, 40, said that, "It is difficult to study history without becoming cynical, but I have learned a lot about Darfur."

German Gutierrez, 59, said that he appreciated the lecture, "but would have liked to learn whether human rights atrocities in Colombia amount to genocide in the Canadian media."

"Genocide and the Media" had the support of the Heritage and Librarians Branch of the Ministry of Culture.

The writer is a Graduate Student in Journalism

source: western news

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