In January 2015, 12 people were killed in a terrorist attack on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. The Australian media went into overdrive and gave saturation coverage for some days. In January 2016, 32 people were killed and 66 wounded in a terrorist attack in the northern Cameroun town of Bodo. There was no significant coverage of the Reuters report about this in the Australian media. Boko Haram has killed more people in more countries than its brothers in arms al Qaeda have killed in Europe.
The day before the November 2015 attack in Paris that killed over 100 people a similar attack took place in Lebanon. There are far more people of Lebanese origin in Australia than of French origin but compare the coverage given to the two events. The Beirut attack was at least reported but got nothing like the attention that Paris got. Why?
Quite obviously our media is Eurocentric if not racist and it probably follows that their audience is too. Why would the media spend a lot of time on something people are not interested in? So we conclude that for most Australians Africans are less human, or at least less important, than Europeans and the media reflects this.
Media studies have shown that we all tend to focus more on countries seen to be more important to us or within our own region so the theory that it is all the fault of CNN and similar organisations doesn’t really hold up. Africa probably gets less attention in Asia and the Americas as well. The information is available to us all and we decide which animals are more equal than other animals.
Cavan Hogue was former Australian Ambassador to USSR and Russia.