Home
In this issue

Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Jan. 10, 2005 /3 Shevat 5765

Is public indifference to foreign news a myth?

By Edward Wasserman


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article


http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | I have never understood the complaint you always hear about drivers who slow down to look at an accident scene. Is it better to zip by at highway speed without a glance? Are we supposed to disregard the misfortune of others?

I don't think so. I think the impulse to look and to pity is part of what makes us human. That's why the extraordinary media coverage of the extraordinary destruction on the shores of the Indian Ocean wrought by the Dec. 24 tsunami is so impressive. From the most glittering network-news stars to the scrappiest reporters from the provincial press, U.S. journalists have poured into Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Thailand, to places that they, their editors, publishers and readers would have had a hard time finding on a map two weeks ago.

And that's the problem. It isn't just the sensitivity of the coverage or the poignancy of the stories that is remarkable. Nor is it the activation of new networks of Web-based reportage, which have brought a fresh dimension of direct experience and observation to millions of people worldwide.

What's truly notable is that the attention lavished on the tsunami aftermath reminds us how rarely we pay any attention whatever to most of the rest of humankind. Despite the miracle of real-time global communications, we share the world with billions of people who enter our fields of awareness in one of only two ways: as threats or victims.

Shouldn't these people have had some reality for us - lives, hopes, faiths, histories - before they became grieving supplicants?

Suddenly we're flooded with images of Sri Lankans as desperate, bereaved people whose homes have been swept away and their children drowned. We're aware of south Indians, people of coastal Thailand, Sumatrans and others, all in the same way. We are moved to help, thank heaven. Our celebrity culture is mobilizing to insist that we give, and if Americans had more confidence that their donations wouldn't be misused or stolen the contributions might even be more generous than they have been.

It seems apparent from the passion and scale of the response that people in comfortable, metropolitan countries are not necessarily apathetic when it comes to happenings on the other side of the world. We can care. The number of Americans watching cable news jumped sharply in the wake of the disaster. British newspaper sales spiked.

Naturally, this was a searing, dramatic event. A staggering number of people, upward of 150,000 were suddenly wiped out. Our fascination with that doesn't readily translate into an equivalent interest in the slow-motion tragedies in the poor world where, as Nicholas Kristof noted in a New York Times column, malaria kills 160,000, AIDS 240,000 and diarrhea 140,000 people each month.

But the surge of interest may suggest that something is flawed in the universal assumption among U.S. news media that Americans really can't be bothered with what happens overseas. That conviction has led news organizations to shut down foreign bureaus and cut way back on space devoted to reporting from abroad. That phenomenon was chronicled in veteran correspondent Peter Arnett's memorable 1998 American Journalism Review article, ``Goodbye World,'' when he wrote: ``International news coverage in most of America's mainstream papers has almost reached the vanishing point.''

Donate to JWR


Since then things have only gotten worse, as TV-news networks retrench and print media redirect their energies to such proven crowd-pleasers as celebrity break-ups and market-driven inserts. And we're left with the paradox that the people who live amid the greatest abundance of informational resources in human history are shown, time and again, to be profoundly uninformed about the world around them.

Lamentation about the steady decline in the numbers of Americans who watch news or read newspapers has become a reliable motif in any sizable gathering of media people. The proportion of people ages 18 to 34 who read the paper regularly plunged to 26 percent in 2001 from 39 percent four years earlier.

No responsible media executive would believe that the audience is melting away because of a lack of foreign news. But it's a big world out there with a lot of great stories that nobody is even trying to tell. And the fascination with this calamity - unmatched since 9/11 - might suggest that the U.S. news audience is being underestimated by the U.S. news business.

At least we can hope so.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in Washington and the media consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.


To comment, please click here.



© 2005 WPWG