The world has been deeply affected by the Japanese earthquake crisis which has ravaged the country over the last fortnight and continues to do so. Estimates have seen over 400,000 people homeless, 1.5 million households left without water and well over 10,000 people either confirmed or feared dead. It is the very definition of a tragedy, and the world watched in horror as a thriving country battled earthquake, tsunami and nuclear incident and continues in a desperate fight for survival.
The whole planet most certainly watched this tragedy unfold, and had many mediums to do so. Thanks to modern technology, instant smartphone and YouTube videos showed us live footage of the devastation first-hand. It gave us an eerie view into the world of the affected, and the media would play these clips on high rotation.
I want to share with you some very interesting figures. While well over 10,000 people died in the Japanese Earthquakes and subsequent after effects, up to and over 16,000 children die of starvation in Africa every single day, one child every five seconds.
I am not bringing up this point to have a theoretical arm wrestle, or to claim one is more important than the other, or to try and quantify or compare human demise, as the loss of a single life is enough of a tragedy in itself.
But when news media continues to show these events on a 24 hour cycle, calling them ‘disasters’ and weeping for the tragic loss, then theoretically the exact same attention should be shown to the unspeakable loss and suffering which takes place in Third World nations every single day.
I must stress that I do not think that any less attention should be paid to the Japanese earthquake. It was a horrific tragedy, and I watched the events take place in horror, and I fully expected it to be the lead news story of the night, and rightfully so. Along with The Queensland floods and cyclones it is easily the biggest news story of this year its devastation will be remembered for decades to come. It makes logical sense for the Japanese earthquake to dominate the headlines, and again rightfully so.
But one must not forget, before the Japanese tragedy, almost exactly the same news exposure was given to Charlie Sheen’s drug induced mental breakdown. Is this really more important than a 16,000 child death toll daily? We as a nation paid such a large attention to what was coming out of a deranged actor’s mouth, yet in Charlie Sheen’s two week news cycle over 224,000 African children died from having nothing in their mouths.
While some may argue that the aid given to Africa is more than enough, and internal issues in countries throughout the continent have led to an unsolvable situation, if the majority of the Western World spent as much time and media attention focusing on the plight of the less fortunate as we do following washed up celebrities, there may be a chance to make more of a difference. I think it is high time the Western World’s news media focus their attention on some other, more relevant matters, because statistics like the one above are quite sobering and put some things, like the future captain of the Australian test team, well into perspective.