Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Starlight

Amongst my many writing commitments, one of the things I do on campus is act as the liberal voice on our weekly political talk show, entitled "Bubble to Bubble" ("Bringing the news of the Washington Bubble Right Here To Our Very Own Carleton Bubble!"). Each week, the show moderator sends us a list of topics we're going to discuss, and we can send him any of our own they we think should be on the agenda. For today's (Tuesday's) show, I said we should talk about Darfur. He said that sounded good, and asked if there's been any specific new news reports I wanted to discuss. And I responded that that's the problem: the issue has appeared to have fallen off the radar of the mainstream media.

All of this is a round-about way of giving my whole-hearted concurrence to this article about American Speedskating Gold Medalist Joey Cheek. Gold Medals are cool, obviously, but what's really important is what he's doing with his time in the limelight:
He's an Olympic champion after being the only 500-meter speedskater to break 70 seconds in two rounds of competition Monday, and he took his 15 seconds of fame to announce in a post-victory news conference that he will donate every penny of the $25,000 he wins from the USOC to refugees in the Darfur region of the Sudan. Cheek also called on his sponsors to match or beat that pledge.

The article calls upon the media to give more coverage to stories like Cheeky's, and I obviously concur. I question why the NYT or Washington Post doesn't just give this story front-page billing. Easy answer: It's a nice story, but not front-page news. Easy response: Newspaper's decide what's front-page news, and I'd like them to be a bit more concerned with the public impact of their decisions rather than just following the latest trend like lemurs off a cliff. It would be impossible for newspapers to be neutral even if they tried, so they might as well provide support for the morally compelling stories of our day. I do see the harms in overtly partisan news reporting (hello, Fox News); that's not what I'm advocating here. But I think that genocide can safely be removed from the realm of "partisan" issues. If the big media players were determined to make an issue out of this, they could. And I think they should.

In the mean time, we should thank Joey Cheeky for doing his part.

2 comments:

Joshua said...

But I think that genocide can safely be removed from the realm of "partisan" issues. If the big media players were determined to make an issue out of this, they could. And I think they should.

Somehow I doubt genocide per se is the real hang-up with the media here. Rather, the hang-up is probably the same one behind their not publishing the Danish Mohammed cartoons, their glossing over of the riots in France and Australia, and their ongoing reluctance to name the real enemy in this war - an enemy which, as it so happens, also has a starring role in the Darfur atrocities.

Just Asking said...

If I shoot somebody in the face with a shotgun, will I also not be charged?