Balancing on Our Axis.
“Thanks to satellite networks … we are now closer to distant suffering than ever before, thereby bearing the moral responsibility of witnessing and, with it, the burden of complicity: in the age of mediated abundance, we cannot, any longer, say we did not know” (Ellis, 2000: 1).
What do you remember about the 16th of April?
In Australia, the Boston Bombings mainly dominated the news.
April 15th (American time), two pressure cooker bombs exploded at 2.48pm at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The detonation, which took a infinitesimal thirteen seconds, killed three people and injured over 260 people.
While the bombings were a tragedy, and cannot be treated as ‘insignificant event’, what made they so special over other events in the world? Why were they such a prominent news story?
On April 16th another momentous tragedy occurred – the Iran earthquake.
The earthquake struck on April 16th in Iran near the border of Pakistan. The earthquake measured to be 7.8 in magnitude, the largest earthquake in Iran for 40 years. The tremors were felt as far away as India and the Gulf states. In the bordering town of Mashkeel, Pakistan, the earthquake killed 35 people and injured 150. One person was always confirmed to be dead and at least 20 injured in Iran. While many were cautious of the damage the earthquake could have done to the Bushehr nuclear power facility in Iran, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported that the quake had caused no harm to the plant, or any other nuclear faculties.
The bombings in Boston and the earthquake in Pakistan occurred within 24 hours of each other, causing great destruction and suffering. However, why did the Boston Bombings receive such significant attention?
As Moeller indicates,
“The ways in which the media portray and narrate the suffering of far away others… has raised critical questions about the power relations between the West and the ‘rest’,” (Moeller, 1999; Tester, 2001).
Due to America’s undeniable influence on the rest of the world, the attention that the Boston bombings receives cannot simply be put down to as interest. Not only would the United States’ actions regarding this case would have reflected and set the tone for Obama’s second term’s national strategies, but whatever they proposed, could have also impacted Australian and other international forces.
However, a major thought to consider is that what happened at the Boston Marathon is what people in the Middle East, Pakistan and Afghanistan are surrounded by daily. Just because these events happen on a regular basis in Iraq and Iran, it doesn’t justify why they weren’t given much news time. The end result for all three of these events was the same. Innocent citizens became victims.
All life is precious and equal, but as far as our media is concerned, it seems some is more precious than others.