Western Journalistic Arrogance

Are some lives inherently more important than others? If you’re a typical western journalist (or the usual left-of-center coloring), the answer is a big “well, du-uh.” Of course westerners are more important than non-westerners, and journalists are the most important of all. Here’s a typical example from the BBC website today, referring to the disappearance of two French journalists and an Italian journalist:

“An interpreter working for missing Italian reporter Enzo Baldoni has been found dead, raising fears that the journalist has been kidnapped.”

The interpreter — no doubt a mere Iraqi, and therefore not even worth mentioning by name — is in fact dead, but that’s only important because it raised fears that an Italian journalist had been kidnapped.

3 Responses to “Western Journalistic Arrogance”

  1. jbrad4@gmu.edu

    And let’s not forget typical American journalists (left and right) who fail to report and keep track of civilian deaths arising from U.S. intervention. Iraq Body Count at http://www.iraqbodycount.net/ estimates the minimum number of civilians reported killed by military intervention in Iraq at 11,649 as of 8/22.

  2. I think that’s a little harsh. We’re naturally more concerned with those we know, or those like us. I don’t think those journalists are “more important” in any objective sense, but I don’t see anything wrong with the fact that the bonds of friendship and common culture make Western journalists more important to other Western journalists than Iraqi natives.

    I’ll bet the local Iraqi press, would focus more on the interpreters and less on the journalists.

    Could you please turn off the “require email address” feature?

  3. Both reasonable comments, but I disagree with Tim. I don’t think that I’m being too harsh on journalists. They typically claim to be “objective,” but are — for the most part — remarkably unreflective and either unwilling or incapable of perceiving things from any perspective other than the one they currently occupy. Most journalists claim to interpret the world for us, so what’s wrong with pointing out their blind spots?

    After a bit of time navigating the support site, I’ve managed to turn off the “require email address” feature.
    Best, Tom G. Palmer