We live in a more interconnected world 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, YouTube, etc., to a certain extent, but only seemingly when it applies to the most local 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 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, and 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 unsavory 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 how quickly we (& our media) are quick to criticize and condemn events that 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 talkback 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 YouTube, 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 can access this information easily via YouTube or Web News Services & Blogs and not be a slave to the inane and largely insignificant coverage of our commercial networks. Hopefully, it may not be long before YouTube outrates Channel 9 news and Google News Services has a greater readership than the Herald Sun.