By Ella Koscher, ’15
January 7. This was the day of the attack at the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris. That day, the world temporarily shifted its focus to France, sending thoughts and prayers to the 12 victims who were targeted by two terrorists. The world advocated for and defended the freedom of speech. #JeSuisCharlie trended on Twitter and Instagram for days.
Every news station was nearly dedicated to covering this story. My Twitter was full of Charlie Hebdo news articles and editorial cartoons for days.
What less people around the world know is that on that same day—Jan. 7, 2015—the terrorist group based in Nigeria, Boko Haram, massacred nearly 2,000 people. The group is advancing and, at this point, has taken over an area in Nigeria the size of Slovakia. An entire town was completely “wiped out” in four days, according to The New York Times.
Why didn’t this event receive constant attention? Why didn’t I hear this from one of the three news sources I follow on Twitter? Where were the victims of this event’s hashtag? Why did the terrorist attack in Paris deserve more attention than this one?
I saw this as a clear example that the mainstream media is bias and unprofessional, run by corporations whose number one priority is reporting on and protecting Western interests.
“There are massacres and there are massacres” wrote Simon Allison for the Daily Maverick, a partner on the Guardian Africa network. “It may be the 21st century, but African lives are still deemed less newsworthy—and, by implication, less valuable—than western lives”.
And this is not just true for Africa. Daily tragedies occur across the world that go unnoticed. The Gaza Strip is still on fire, Pakistan is parched and it seems everyday there is another reported Muslim hate crime, none of which I learned about on mainstream media. There is no hashtag for these victims; only apathy.
The world is shifting its cameras and attention away from the true, unpleasant horrors that occur in world everyday in exchange for how to find a proper parking spot, the “importance” of deflated footballs and why Hillary Clinton is too old to be president.
Why did the Chapel Hill shooting that killed three Muslims receive less attention than the release of 50 Shades of Grey? Why is the fact that entire countries may be underwater in the next couple of decades due to climate change so purposefully ignored, while newscasters drone on for hours about 2016 presidential speculations?
Trivial topics are a waste of everyone’s time. To over-cover one event and almost blatantly ignore another of equal or even greater importance—tragic or not—is a disgrace to the people or the victims of that newsworthy event. I know we cannot notice, cover or remember each victim or story, but we can try.