Saturday, September 18, 2010
What happened to coverage of Pakistan Deluge: The Pulling of Times.com American version
Originally published on Times.com as "Through Hell and High Water" - then pulled - the media’s failure to cover “the great Pakistani deluge” is “itself a security threat” -according to reporter/scholar, Juan Cole. This Cole quote was in response to the AmericaTime magazine's removal of the Pakistan story from the cover of its U.S. edition - September 12, 2010
In modern history, the unprecedented disaster has received nearly no press appropriate to the level of this calamity even while UN calls for the largest relief amount for natural disaster ever.
Excerpts from featured article:
Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world (in population), and also a major non-NATO ally of ours. (Yet) No rock concerts were organized to help Pakistani children sleeping on highways or in open fields infested with vermin. No sports events offered receipts to aid victims at risk from cholera and other diseases...As educator, commentator, and modern-day historian Juan Cole put it: “out of sight, out of mind.”
Article by journalist Zachary Shahan who has a strong interest in climate change
TIME magazine once gave us the photos that were painful to accept of the Vietnam War, so did our TVs, and Walter Cronkite. Due to these images, we rose up as a country to question the status quo. These days, the Great Pakistan Deluge happens, and what does TIME magazine do? Pull the story.
An “unprecedented” disaster in Pakistan’s modern history occurs, TIME — a once trusted and important source of national and global information – publishes it as its cover story everywhere else, but pulls it from the American version of the magazine, even though President Obama has repeatedly said that Pakistan is central to our own safety.
Is this a pattern in mainstream US media? Yes. Are the shades of suppression coming from a media dependent on selling the next drug with 20 side effects or a false sense of security, instead of supplying education on huge current events? Who knows? But they are coming from somewhere.
Pakistan is the sixth largest country in the world (in population), and also a major non-NATO ally of ours. We should be interested if these people are dealing with a deluge. 20% of it was flooded and how much attention and care did we give? As reported by Nathanial Gronewold of Climatewire on Scientific American:
The flooding witnessed in the Indus Valley is unprecedented in the country’s modern history and was caused by a combination of increasingly warm ocean water and a mysterious blockage of the jet stream, which drew warm, water-laden air north to Pakistan, over which it burst in sheets of raging liquid. If the floods that followed prove a harbinger of things to come, then they are a milestone in our experience of global warming, a big story in its own right.
As educator, commentator, and modern-day historian Juan Cole put it: “out of sight, out of mind.” He points out that the failure to report on this is also a threat to our own national security. It seems to be a trend in corporate media to control the news on global warming-related current events. Just act like it is in a different dimension where children and climate don’t matter.
Does it follow that we are lacking in empathy due to our complacency, a pre-condition for denial? More from Juan Cole’s discussion: “No rock concerts were organized to help Pakistani children sleeping on highways or in open fields infested with vermin. No sports events offered receipts to aid victims at risk from cholera and other diseases.” Beyond the consciousness of Americans are the happenings that lead to our future where complacency and accountability are issues that may only, but eventually, wake us when it is too late.
The UN secretary called it the worst disaster he had ever seen -– more terrible than the tsunami and the Haitian earthquakes. With about a 4% extra amount of water in the atmosphere (due, most definitely, to global warming), it is difficult to miss that that provides plenty of moisture for storms such as this. The prospects of these kinds of things happening again are only increasing.
The failure to report on this latest natural disaster in Pakistan may also have its roots in confusion and disinterest due to Islamic ideologies. However, we saw this mirrored in our own country with Katrina a similar neglect to critical images, news, and connections to global warming, as well as in the extremely limited coverage of Tennessee‘s Katrina.
The unreported news, the avoided news, and the mainstream news we get — what does all of this say about who we are as a culture? What we accept as news is comfortably attuned to denial, avoidance, and disinterest in critical current events. Deeper contemplation about current events, perhaps how we can help and evolve as a humanitarian, as a society, and as a planet, requires relevant news.
This year, subtle avoidance of the impacts of global warming prevails, but the extra moisture in the air, the disasters it creates, and other critical problems related to climate change are quite apparent to the few of us who are not determined to block our ears to these issues.
A question about the legitimacy of information in major news today and what news used to be arises. Dealing with the multidimensional human experience, we lost balance, or at least integration, in our national journalism and the standard that we once took for granted is hard to find.
Good form in media used to be about accuracy and visibility of the current issues of the day. The burnt children, tortured mothers, and insane war heroes of the Vietnam era where not hidden comfortably from our view. As we contend with natural factors derivative of man’s over-consumption and neglect, there is a sense of societal complacency leading us steadily in denial. Can we take another path before it’s too late?
Find original article "US Media Ignore Pakistan's Worst Disaster in Modern History" here
Adding insult to injury, the September 27th edition just out is all about "The Tea Party" in every edition. Go Figure? here And see other related items here and here Zachary Shahan, a professional writer and journalist
Also find the Intro to the topic at Tom Dispatch here The Invisible Deluge in Pakistan (Juan Cole in Tomdispatch)
Posted by CN at 2:44 PM