If you want to find out what’s happening in a poor country, be sure to add tourists to your Google News search.
“Canadian and Italian tourists feared kidnapped in Burkina Faso,” was the recent headline in the BBC, a day after clashes there claimed 46 lives. The BBC didn’t cover the clashes online, nor did they cover a terrorist attack there a few days prior, or the country’s trade deals with China. If the tragic events had happened in Europe though, the media would have been all over it.
We see similar scenarios with the recent media coverage of tourists robbed in Brazil (just as a president who is arguably more racist, sexist, and homophobic than Trump has taken power – yes, it’s possible), of a tourist murdered in Morocco, and the killings in a Mexican tourist resort.
From de-prioritizing the lives of locals in poor countries, to downplaying global inequality, racism, and condescension, the way Western news agencies do international news is deeply harmful. They judge other countries based on the assumption that US and European political and economic standards are the best and only way to do things, and that practice is leading to some seriously discriminatory and damaging outcomes.
As the news becomes increasingly corporatist, with agencies blurring the lines between native advertising and news stories and focusing on clicks over quality, there is little desire to examine this sort of malpractice, let alone rectify it.
A list of deliberate distortions…