The ongoing military conflict between Russia and Ukraine has been the top story in most international media outlets drawing wall-to-wall coverage for over a week now.
However, several news outlets, particularly the Western media, are being criticised and condemned for the evidently racist undertones in their coverage of the unfolding humanitarian crisis that tend to amplify empathy for European victims while normalising the sufferings of war and disaster in other regions such as Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan.
While there’s a genuine uproar on social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook calling out the racist media biases triggering a positive debate within the Western media fraternity on the subject, two journalists’ bodies from Africa and the Middle East have issued strongly-worded statements to register their protest while advising the media organisations to get past “American- or Euro-centric biases.”
“The Foreign Press Association, Africa, noted that while a similar Western attitude in its coverage of Ukraine is not surprising, it is irresponsible and reprehensible, and that a racist approach should not be in any way associated with an important profession as journalism.
The body stated that to prevent explicit bias, newsrooms must train correspondents on the cultural and political nuances of regions they’re reporting on, and not rely on American or Euro-centric biases.
“Inaccurate and disingenuous comparisons only serve to inflame stereotypes and mislead viewers, and they ultimately perpetuate prejudicial responses to political and humanitarian crises,” the statement said.
Popular Comedian and TV host Trevor Noah called out the unequal coverage of the war in Ukraine in comparison to how conflicts are typically reported in other regions such as Africa and the Middle East.
On Monday’s episode of The Daily Show, the host did not mince words when he criticised several reporters for their coverage of the Russian invasion in, what as some broadcasters put it, a “relatively civilised,” “relatively European” country that is “not a developing, Third World nation.”
Denijal Jegic, a PhD researcher in communication and multimedia journalism at the Lebanese American University said such coverage has long been prevalent in European colonial discourse. “This implicitly suggests that war is a natural phenomenon in places outside of the Euro-American sphere, and the Middle East in particular, and that war would take place because of a lack of civilisation, rather than due to unjust geopolitical power distribution or foreign intervention,” he said.
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