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Mainstream media and its British bias


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When the Costa Concordia sank we were told how many British people were among the dead. In Afghanistan we are told when a soldier dies but not a civilian. When bombs fall in Syria we are assured that no British people were harmed. All of these things and more lead me to ask myself the question, why is a British life more valuable than others in today’s media?

The Costa ConcordiaIt is an age old sight. A breaking news banner runs across the bottom of the screen which reads 54 people die in a tragic disaster, 12 of whom were British. It has always troubled me that this needs to be pointed out. There are over 6 billion humans on this planet, all of whom have lived different lives, have experienced different things. Some people murder and rape, others are saints, but their uniting factor is that they are all humans; they are all alive on this planet. That is why it truly baffles me to think that in modern media we find it necessary to define how many lost lives in a disaster were British.

Admittedly there is an argument that it is relevant to British people to know if British people have died. This is an argument adopted by a lot of people, but one which I do not buy. Why should I relate more to a dead person because they are British? If I knew the person I would relate more to them than the others who died, but that is the extent to which I would value one human life more than another. I cannot comprehend the basis behind the view that it is easier to relate to a person who speaks the same language and has the same colour skin as me. Both of those attributes are superficial.

News should be based on what is important. When the Costa Concordia sank we saw days and days of detailed news reports. We saw reaction documentaries being touted on Channel 4 within what seemed like hours of the incident. We were part of the story: a ship full of Europeans had crashed and British people were on board. I don’t think I could find someone who couldn’t tell you about the Costa Concordia disaster. But I don’t think I could find anyone who could tell me about the Papua New Guinea ferry disaster which happened only a few weeks after. It is estimated that there were nearly five times as many deaths than the Costa Concordia, but we weren’t told the ship's name. We weren’t shown Channel 4 documentaries; we didn’t all see detailed animations of how exactly the ship was lying on the sea bed. After days of checking I gave up on trying to locate an article about it on the BBC website. I only found out about it through a bottom of the page short summary on The Guardian website. There was one defining factor that could explain the lack of reporting on the ferry disaster: every passenger on board the ferry was from Papua New Guinea.

I cannot offer answers as to why our news presents things in such a biased manner, I can only ask the question again and hope that someone smarter than me can provide an answer. Why do our countries mainstream media insist on valuing a British life above a non-British one?

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