Whitewashing in Western media alters our perceptions


By katiebarner12

With the terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris just recently trickling out of the front pages of newspapers and magazines across the nation, there have been numerous events across the globe that have been overshadowed.

As the one-month anniversary of the attack goes by and Black History Month begins, it is important to recognize other events surrounding the attack.

The fact that this media focus on a Western nation has been so dominant is another case of media whitewashing. We are living in an age where the media depicts what we see, and we have been for decades.

On the same day as the attacks in Paris, hundreds of people were brutally attacked and killed by terrorist group Boko Haram in Nigeria.

Do not get me wrong: The events in Paris were absolutely horrifying. Freedom of speech was jeopardized and innocent lives were taken in tragic way.

Yes, it absolutely deserved media attention. But I am here to ask why the attacks in Nigeria did not get this same amount of attention.

Is it because Boko Haram has been performing a series of attacks, when the attack in Paris was an isolated case? Or is because of the media’s choice to whitewash its coverage?

I am leaning toward the latter of the two choices, considering media history of whitewashing, like in the shows we are exposed to on television and the news stories, our media sources choose for us.

Of course I cannot generalize every single media source into this bubble of ignorance. Brandon Stanton, creator of the famous photo blog Humans of New York, has recently created a campaign that has helped raise over $1 million for a mostly non-white middle school in Brooklyn, as inspired by the school’s exceptionally passionate principal Ms. Lopez.

Humans of New York has over 12 million followers on Facebook, and Stanton has two published books. Stanton has a great following, and his campaign has made an incredible difference for the school and for raising awareness on the need to fight for education for inner-city kids.

This kind of media attention has had positive results and is a step in the right direction, but there is still much more work to be done.

Until there is equal representation on what the media chooses to cover and less emphasis on stories reported for their “sensational” factor, Western media should not be considered the one and only, most reliable source of accurate depictions on the current status of not only this country, but of the world.


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