We live in a world which is more interconnected than ever and we have the unprecedented ability to find out almost instantly about what is going on both in terms of large events and on an individual level anywhere in the world. That being said, if you watch our average nightly news broadcast, you could be forgiven for thinking that very little exists beyond our northern shoreline and depending on which state you are from and watching the broadcast in, nothing significant goes on beyond your local state border. Our television stations are taking advantage of the new technology like web news services, blogs, You Tube, etc. to a certain extent but only seemingly when it applies to the most local of issues. Due to the advent of satellite and live video streaming technology we can know what is happening in the most remote or dangerous places and be able to form truly informed opinions on the major issues around the world. However we seemingly don’t care.
Watching a recent nightly news broadcast on one of our 3 major networks, the first 15 minutes of coverage included bushfires, crowd violence at the tennis, traffic light outages, power shortages as well a couple of basic human interest pieces. On this same day, 2 of Sadaam Hussein’s top advisors were executed, thousands were killed in Sudan, the EU was facing a major crisis, China was launching a major environmental initiative, Australia was flagging the possibility of selling Uranium to India and the list goes on and on. As unsavoury as the mini scuffle at the tennis was, it doesn’t compare to genocide in Africa. And that particular issue regarding the crowd brawl at the tennis brings up another point in that how quickly we (& our media) are quick to criticise and condemn events which involve people or things that are not “Australian”. At one of the recent one day international cricket games involving Australia and England, 190 people were arrested and ejected from the game, yet that did not generate anywhere near the television, news or talk back radio coverage that this comparatively minor incident at the Australian Open or indeed the humble 3 people who were arrested at the unprecedented sell-out domestic soccer match between Melbourne and Sydney in December. It seems that when things involve a more local game like cricket we are more eager to turn a blind eye.
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However it is our apathy, despite the numerous advantages we have over all our ancestors, even ones as recent as 10 years ago, that is most concerning. While if you browse the videos of You Tube, you can view first accounts of not just horrors but some of the major achievements and milestones all over the world, you are extremely unlikely to see any of this on any of our commercial networks unless it has some connection to Australia, we have a spare couple of minutes to fill in or if it such a huge story that it demands airtime or newspaper space. The one news service we have that devotes itself to the most significant stories regardless of country of origin, the SBS World News doesn’t rate well as we are more concerned about what our hidden camera technology show people doing in change rooms on the current affair shows or the latest romance and break up on Neighbours. At least now that we have so many media sources to choose from because of the Internet, people who truly do care about real issues both home and abroad are able to access this information easily via You Tube or Web News Services & Blogs and not be just be a slave to the inane and largely insignificant coverage of our commercial networks. Hopefully it may not be long before You Tube outrates Channel 9 news and Google News Services has a greater readership than the Herald Sun.