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Media ignorance in times of war: Gaza, Syria and Goma

By Simon Farnsworth

If you turned on any news channel today you could easily be forgiven by thinking only one intense battle raged in the world.

As journalists flooded into Gaza to report the latest developments, events in Syria and the Democratic Republic of Congo took a back seat in the world’s media. It highlighted a major issue in mainstream media- the league tabling of wars.

For example, with no mention on the television news, am I to believe that all is well in Syria? Are we to say that events in Gaza are more important than the Rwandan backed rebels advancing through DR Congo? Who makes the decision as to the order of importance of each warzone?

Is it made through the most visually appealing battle? The most casualties? Or is it just a case of where the most journalists are based?

Over 300 foreign reporters have been issued with press cards in Israel while only a handful of freelancers are in the city of Goma in eastern DR Congo, which has fallen to rebel troops.

The information the journalists on the ground in Goma have been tweeting and the copy they have been issuing has been remarkable. A testament to both modern technology and old fashioned war journalism.

Just eight foreign journalists are in Goma, a city of over one million people and the economic hub of the mineral rich eastern region. Their twitter accounts offer a stunning insight into the rebellion- the confusion, the mortar fire and, most importantly, the very latest developments. (Check them out: Melanie Gouby, Phil Moore, Pete Jones, Gabriel Gatehouse, Jonny Hogg, Simone Schlindwein, Kees Broere and Nazanine Moshiri.)

Don’t get me wrong, I understand the huge significance of the recent events in Gaza and the reports coming out from journalists risking their own safety have been nothing short of brilliant but what of the people of Goma and the rest of DR Congo who stand on the brink of yet another war? Does this struggle for power not deserve more coverage? And does a car bomb that explodes in Damascus today really deserve less coverage then if it exploded last week when the world’s media had its eyes fixed upon it?

These are not questions easily answered but in an age where technology is ever improving, the world’s media is running out of excuses for ignoring issues that might not sell as many newspapers or get as many viewers. After all, each war may be different, but ultimately each war is the same.


4 Comments

  1. Eva says:

    Nice eye. Writer is right in every way. Just wondering though about his examples. Afghanistan was abandoned way back.

    Dont know if the reason he doesn’t mention it is because U.S is the invader. If you ask me, he is doing the same thing as he accuses his mates of

    • World News Today says:

      Hi Eva,

      You’re totally right, Afghanistan should also be in this article as well as Iraq which has also been forgotten. Then there are the “smaller conflicts” in Somalia, Libya etc which you would struggle to read about in mainstream media.

      The three case studies chosen were just a way of highlighting media ignorance but of course it goes well beyond Gaza, Syria and Goma.

  2. Les Neuhaus says:

    Great points in the piece and I agree totally, but you’re wrong about “just eight foreign journalists” being in Goma — whether that is true of Nov. 21, when this piece was published, or today, Nov. 25 … there are, and were, several more foreign journalists there by Nov. 21, and many more after, obviously. FYI.

    • World News Today says:

      Hi Les,

      At the time of writing (Nov 20) our research showed there were eight journalists in Goma itself. Of course there could have been a couple more that we missed but the number would not be far from eight.

      You’re right that since this article was published more journalists have travelled to Goma but this has still been a woefully under reported conflict in the mainstream media.

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