On air: Why do you care about certain issues, and not about others?

As one US blogger puts it, we know what’s happening in Iraq, we know about Darfur, but how many of us know or care about DR Congo? You could argue it’s a fair point. More people have been killed by conflict in DRC than any other in the past ten years. So why the relative indifference? We’re not trying to guilt trip you here and say ‘look at these things that you should care about’. We all have a limit to the issues, peoples and places we can support whether with our time or our money. We’re just trying to understand why some causes gain mass support and others don’t.

Why, as we found out last month, do Britons give more money to a donkey sanctuary than to charities that support victims of domestic abuse? The 200 largest UK charities which provide services for abused women or campaign to prevent abuse have a combined annual income of £97m. The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals has £110m. Do we care more about animals than women? Can that really be the true?

The cause of Aung San Sui Chi has been taken up this month by a long-list of US celebrities. When Steven Spielberg resigned from his role in the Olympics over Chinese policy on Darfur, it was reported all over the world. Type ‘save congo’ into Google and you get someone trying to stop their dog being put down. Again, such a difference in the profile of the cause.

Or let’s take Madeleine McCann who we spoke about on yesterday’s show. Why is her name known around the world, while the names of many other children who disappear remain familiar to just a few people?

Can we explain this by looking at the media? Or by measuring the PR and fund-raising success of campaign groups who have taken up a particular issue? Could organisations like this make more of a difference by changing their approach?

Is this simply about geography? Do we care about things that are close to home, or at least are taking place in countries we feel have something in common with our own?

Is this about language? Is it harder for the most powerful media in the world to tell a story in a country where hardly anyone speaks English? Maybe it’s about simplicity – if a terrible situation is terribly complicated does that make it harder to care?

And I haven’t even mentioned ‘Palestine’ and Tibet, two more causes which for right or for wrong hold the world’s attention so strongly at the moment. See today’s high-powered conference on the former.

I also could mention Zimbabwe. It is far from the only country where doubts linger over electoral practice and where there are concerns about human rights abuses and food supply. Yet, the world’s media remains trained on every development there.

As I said, we’re not taking a moral stance here, we just want to understand what makes a cause take hold. Here’s some more links.

Series of reports from Congo by the BBC’s Mike Thomson.

This week’s BBC investigation into UN peacekeepers in Congo.

Pictures of Congo.

111 Responses to “On air: Why do you care about certain issues, and not about others?”

  1. 1 Ana Milena, Colombia
    May 2, 2008 at 15:03

    Hi there! 🙂

    We care about 1) the facts that the media makes an issue and 2) what directly affects us.

    Sometimes we might feel, for instance, that situation in Congo doesn’t concern us more than situation in the Middle East. Why if, after all, we’re brothers?
    Because the media sets our priorities. In my country, for instance, you’ll have little information about Africa’s issues, and you’ll have US situation as ‘breaking news’ besides, of course, local matters.

    The media and, therefore, our worries, serve at the top countries, companies and celebrities. Few people try their best to go further in the news, and that’s why there’s total ignorance about all these hapenings taking place and that, of course, we should care about.

    Cheers! 😉

  2. 2 Hala Cooper
    May 2, 2008 at 15:10

    This is interesting. First, what media are you talking about? The western media or the media in the Middle East or some other media in another part of the world?
    The media in the Middle East for example focuses more on issues of interest for the Middle East and some global issues. The media in the US hardly tells you about what’s happening in the world.
    I think the western media likes personal and emotionally appealing stories.
    Personally, I am more attracted to some stories more than others depending on how much they appeal to my experience, how interesting they are, and how much they will effect the future of my country Lebanon or that entire region for all that matters.
    Hala Cooper Annandale Virginia.

  3. 3 Kwabena
    May 2, 2008 at 15:31

    Whatever we decide to care about is dictated by the media. I realise BBCs reports are a little bias toward British interest. Zimbabwe is constantly in the news because Mugabe took away farms from British citizens. Aljazeera focuses on its middle east and islam interest. And this resonates throughout the world media.
    Kwabena in Ghana

  4. 4 Nick in USA
    May 2, 2008 at 15:33

    Ros said:

    “Can we explain this by looking at the media?”

    Absolutely! Most people that I’ve talked to in the states are completely ignorant when it comes to the Congo. Why? Because none of the big news stations are covering it. I don’t know how it works everywhere else, but in america we are force fed our news. Even if nobody cares, the big stations just keep cramming it down our throats until we have an opinion. For example, when Brittany Spears gets a haircut, nobody cares, but eventually we all know about it. Faux news and CNN keep us ignorant. I think that’s why so many WHYS listeners have reached out to the BBC. Unfortunately, I think there are a lot more americans who don’t realize that they have that option. Americans are good people, and I have no doubt that you would see more concern for the DRC situation if we were better informed.

    Ros said:
    “Do we care more about animals than women? Can that really be the true?”

    Well, I would have to say yes. Those animals don’t have a choice. Many of the women do. I’ve seen far too many abused women go right back to their abuser or find someone else who will abuse them. After seeing someone make this type of decision over and over, I just stop caring.

  5. May 2, 2008 at 15:35

    WE KNOW WHAT’S HAPPENING IN IRAQ ! Do you guys ?! Really ?! It’s sooooooo true that my Iraq’s cause has got sooooooo much attention from the media all around the world and especially in the US and Europe… But now, after 5 years of the conflict I as an Iraqi can say with complete confidence that the ‘Iraq fatigue syndrome’ does actually exist in the Western media and especially in the American media. So I wanna ask all of you guys some questions : Do you guys feel fed up with hearing death and suffering news from Iraq ?! How do you guys feel when you hear news from Iraq ?! Sad ?! Upset ?! Indifferent ?! Bored ?! Or do you guys just turn the TV or the radio onto another station ?! Are there particular places in the world where continueous daily death should be considered a NORMAL and REGULAR event because it simply happens everyday and when an event keeps repeating itself daily, it just loses its significance and becomes boring ?! Guys, just please take the continuing daily horrific ordeal of Al Sadr city in Baghdad (in which live 3 million innocent civilians) for example. Their horrific humanitarian ordeal is continuing on daily bases for a month now… Does anyone of you guys really know of what’s going on inside Al Sadr city in Baghdad ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  6. 6 Anthony
    May 2, 2008 at 15:35

    It is what has effected you, and any kind of traumatic experiences. Like with MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), all those women swear that that is the most important thinkg in the worlf, but thats because they have a personal story about drunk driving deaths. They could care less about the slave labor in 3rd world countries, but get CRAZY when it comes to drunk driving!

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  7. 7 Lydia
    May 2, 2008 at 15:39

    It is an oversimplification to say that people care more about some issues than others, especially when you’re talking about human suffering. I’m willing to bet it’s more a matter of lack of information than not caring. Moreover, there is a point, I believe, when we become numbed, overwhelmed and paralyzed by the amount of suffering about which we can do virtually nothing. Hot spots of torture, racial cleansing, wholesale abuse of women and children and genocides can only come into the heart and soul for so long before it becomes difficult to open a newspaper or follow up on reading an on-line headline.

    Man’s inhumanity to man is so well-documented. Particularly in this modern age, we can learn almost instantly that some madman locked his daughter in a cellar and did what we might have called the unspeakable to her for over 20 years. But it is no longer unspeakable, is it?

    I do wonder, sometimes, how the abuse of animals generates such response, outpourings of contributions and offers to rescue dogs, cats, and, evidently in Britain, donkeys as well, where other reports of abuse generate, relatively speaking, less public outcry. I answer with this, to keep from feeling hopeless about us as a species: it feels like you can help a dog lost to Hurricane Katrina, and that is more empowering than the feeling of shock and awe and helplessness that comes from contemplating 4000 people made homeless by a natural or man-made disaster. And we need, in the face of overwhelming misery, to feel as though we are contributing, as though the unspeakable remains so. Or maybe we give up? Omigod, no. No giving up. So we respond to the dogs abused by a footballer, because that is easier to wrap our arms around than molestation of children almost sanctioned by a church, or at the very least not prevented.

    Lydia Nayo
    Oakland, CA.

  8. 8 CarlosK
    May 2, 2008 at 15:55

    Hi WHYS,

    The majority (herd mentality) show passing interest and a few take active interest in what the MEDIA chooses to report. Your question a few days ago answers today’s question- THIS WORLD IS A LOOK-AWAY SOCIETY! The fact that the vast majority of the people suffering in the DRC have black skin doesn’t help.

    Power elites of politics, business, academia rule the world via the MEDIA. The world is a mess!

    People of the Congo, you’re in the prayers of all well thinking people worldwide. Most of us want to do more thatn pray but don’t know what to do.


  9. May 2, 2008 at 16:02

    The media has a great impact on how people react to the events or the type of the news they are exposed to. Foreign news sometimes becomes more important and talked about extensively. In the Arab world the Palestinian- Israeli conflict and the situation in Iraq are the dominant news in the Arab media. Some repressive Arab governments prefer their populations to talk openly about problems in these areas and criticise Israel without reserve instead of criticizing them.

    Death is death. Pain is pain. But the way suffering and death are reported depends on the “weight” of the nationality of the persons or even the animal concerned. There was an incident in which a dog was stuck in the Berlin Wall before the unification of Germany. To rescue him there had to be contacts through the diplomatic channels of East Germany and West Germany.

    There are many stories that go around the world untold or they are reported just as footnote.

    There are many countries that are rarely reported in the news and therefore they are little known. Nigeria is in the news because of the kidnapping of foreign oil workers because they are in majority westerners. Chad was in the news because of the alleged kidnapping of Chadian boys by French aid workers.

    What matters is that people should get real facts about what’s going on in their own countries or communities and be mobilized to find solutions to their problems. Being briefed about the problems in another country isn’t enough if they don’t know about the problems in their homeland.

    It’s also queer that in some countries, people don’t know even the name of ministers forming the government and they are knowledgeable about foreign heads of states and prime ministers, simply because they are constantly in the news.

    Abdelilah Boukili
    Marrakesh, Morocco

  10. May 2, 2008 at 16:09

    Hi again to all of you my Precious friends. I did hear a very interesting story 3 months ago about an American organisation named ‘Operation Baghdad Pups’ who rescued a young Baghdadi puppy named ‘Charlie’ and moved him to the US ! As all of you guys know, the horrific ordeal of the Iraqi refugees is just soooooo huge to be denied (2 million human beings). With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  11. 11 VictorK
    May 2, 2008 at 16:09

    @Ana: I would like to disagree with your two observations, namely that we care about what the media makes an issue of and what affects us personally.

    The media report on most things; they usually focus on what interests their audience. And most of what arouses interest does not affect many members of that audience in any way (unless they happen to live in the country or region being reported on).

    An African blogger made a point some months ago here to the effect that there is a racial hierarchy when it comes to news and that blacks were at the bottom. I think he was right in a more general sense. Some countries and cultures are more interesting to most people than others: any story to do with America, Britain or the West is always treated as being especially newsworthy (by both media and audience), and any story that doesn’t involve the West directly is usually presented – if at all possible – with some kind of Western connection (‘What should the world/West do about Tibet?’). The interesting thing about this is that this racially/culturally ordered set of news values is not merely characteristic of Westerners (who would at least have the excuse of vanity and self-importance). I can confidently say that more Africans, African-Americans and Afro-Caribbeans post here about Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan than post about DR Congo, Haiti and Somalia, even though the last three, taken together, involve far more human suffering than the initial trio.

    And it’s not just people of African origin who attribute supreme importance to the West, directly or indirectly: most non-Westerners seem to have very much the same attitude. So Muslims are never interested in Muslim issues for their own sake, only when they involve the West. You will search this blog in vain for a Muslim raising the subject of Xinjiang, Darfur, or Chechnya. I am no fan of Islam but have probably mentioned Darfur more than any of WHYS’s many Muslim bloggers. Similarly China and the Chinese are pathetically obsessed with Western opinion.

    And WHYS isn’t without sin here – though I suppose it is only following the market – since it often takes it for granted that general issues like immigration and multiculturalism can only be of interest to listeners and bloggers if they are treated from a ‘Hesperocentirc’ perspective, as if these issues only existed within the borders of North America and Western Europe.

    I find this immensely frustrating. That the Palestinians can be considered more newsworthy than the DR Congo is a journalistic outrage. Over the period in which some 4 million Congolese have died, not more than 10,000 Palestinians have lost thier lives (and even that figure is certainly a gross overestimate). It is the Western connection, and especially the opportunity for castigating the West, I think, that makes people take so great an interest in the Palestinian story (and Israel is regarded as a Western country) compared to much more substantial events like Congo. You only have to read any thread here about Israel-Palestine to see that (a recent comment illustrated my point very nicely by comparing the Palestinian plight to that of blacks in the Jim Crow, segregated South).

    I would like to see WHYS lead more than it does and focus on stories that are important in themselves, even if they haven’t attracted much attention and don’t involve the West. There are plenty of things that we need to be informed about and that we can only begin to care about only if they are brought to our attention.

    As to what makes me care about some issues and not others…this post is already long enough.

  12. May 2, 2008 at 16:17

    Kenya’s Election Debacle brought with it the biggest world attention.
    THE laudest were America, Britain and EU. Reason? Their investments. Safeguarding their interests(often referred by them as’public interest)

    Zimbabwe is a potential Agricultural Nation in Africa.
    Huge tracts of lands lie uncultivated….. BOB chased away settlers…white settlers.

    Darfur and oil and gold and diamonds and it’s strategic position go East and Northern Africa….

  13. 13 selena
    May 2, 2008 at 16:23

    I commented on this subject an hour ago and it didn’t get through. So, now I will just say we are pretty good at thinking and doing what we are told to think and do. 🙂

    In other words, we care about what we are told to care about, for the most part.

  14. 14 Alex
    May 2, 2008 at 16:26

    Of the 55 countries in africa there are 49 pro western dictatorships and 1 anti western dictatorship. Zimbabwe correctly gets a lot of coverage. But the 49 get special treatment by international media.
    Alex weir. Harare.

  15. 15 viola anderson
    May 2, 2008 at 16:30

    What are people to do? Allot a given amount of time each day to caring about whichever issues are on the agenda? Ultimately, everyone has to put concern aside and go on with their day.

    People are hardwired to respond to issues that reach their emotions. That differs from person to person and is very susceptible to manipulation. Propagandists and brainwashers and the advertising industry know this.


  16. 16 Brett
    May 2, 2008 at 16:32

    It’s all about the media spotlight. They heavily influence what the world talks about and what information reaches the masses. Without the media, its small and select groups of individuals that discuss matters no matter how important or unimportant they are.
    The internet has greatly expanded the capacity to discuss matters both nationally and internationally, but the media still holds the throne as the force of greatest influence on who talks about what.

    Brett ~ Richmond, Va.

  17. 17 Penelope
    May 2, 2008 at 16:36

    What story to cover today; what newsworthy event do we highlight and why?

    Let’s hear from the editors why this is.. and why others – though noteworthy and controversial – get brief mention.

    Time for a little honesty from those whose job it is, to inform us why they think we should care about their agendas.

  18. 18 Ana Milena, Colombia
    May 2, 2008 at 16:37

    Hi, VictorK! 🙂
    Thanks for your reply!
    I didn’t mean to generalize my comment on people’s interest based on the interests of mass media.

    What I meant is that, in the outside world, you’ll see lots of people who won’t be able to provide a certain comment on these problems (ZImbawe, Congo, Afghanistan, etc.) or, at least, in deep, simply because they’re based on what they watch on the telly, which is most of the times biased.

    They’d just blame an entity; they’d just blame religion or they’d just blame a government. They wouldn’t go beyond because they don’t try to obtain more information 😦 . Indeed, that’s why they prefer talking about saving the life of an animal, a situation that, although is serious as well, doesn’t require that deep knowledge as the situation of a community in war.

  19. May 2, 2008 at 16:38

    we listen to what interests us, read what appeals to us and think me what bothers us…..everything else come second place.

    Tv, internet,Newspapers, radio and magazines influence our cares.
    Relevance in terms of geographical position also determines our preference of some issues over others.

    major world media houses such as bbc, cnn, Aljazeera, and DW also influences what we case about.
    After listening to local news, I find myself tunning to bbc or cnn, and I an afraid their choices me what to say or not will influence my opinion me issues and also my likes, dislikes and what to case about!

    Information and disinformation makes us case about some issues and not others
    kerich kipsang in Bomet Kenya.

  20. 20 Janet T
    May 2, 2008 at 16:39

    I think a person has to pick their causes/pick their fights- you cannot be outraged 24 hours a day-I run a business, and try to follow as much as possible the goings on in the world- but I can’t track it all. WHYS supporters often bring up things the mainstream media doesn’t cover. for this I’m grateful

  21. May 2, 2008 at 16:40

    Many people are made to care about certain issues more than others. There is sometimes sensational news that tops all the news. The case of a star being called to the police station to account for the slapping and headbutting of an individual becomes news as it happened with Amy Winehouse a few days ago while somewhere in the world there are people exposed to hunger and torture.

    The commercial media is in most cases concerned about attracting the largest audience or readership. They report for them what can be more exciting than informative. It turns out to be just a big machine of propaganda. News in depth in long articles has little chance of catching the eye. Light news is enriched with pictures has popularity as it is a way for some to pass the time rather than get deep knowledge about more important issues.

    People get more interested in a news item through hot and witty debates. When debates are plain they become boring. What make them interesting are the challenging questions and the opposed parties on the qui vive not to give ground.

    The media despite all this has been greatly instrumental in making people have their own vies about challenging events. There are issues on which concerns diverge like the environment and the threat of hunger around the world. So it isn’t easy to portray the media just a black and white.

    It’s the responsibility of the recipient to choose which side to take and which news item to pick up be it of international, national or local concern.

    Abdelilah Boukili,
    Marrakesh, Morocco

  22. 22 Marsha
    May 2, 2008 at 16:46

    Personally, I can say that I care about all of the issues but only for some do I have an educated opinion that is owrth sharing. On those I will respond, for all the rest, I read and listen and try to learn.

  23. May 2, 2008 at 16:51

    perhaps the question should be_ who sets the media agenda(s) or who sets the agenda(s) for the media.
    only then, it would be clearer and easear making a response

  24. 24 Nick in USA
    May 2, 2008 at 17:02

    @ Lubna

    “Do you guys feel fed up with hearing death and suffering news from Iraq ?!”

    Yes, I’m fed up hearing about American and British soldiers dying for a country that refuses to help itself. I’ve tried so many times to understand the ideology of roadside bombers and suicide bombers, but I just can’t. I still get upset when I hear about people dying in Iraq (whether military or Iraqi civilians) because the citizens of Iraq have not done enough to prevent violence. They should be demanding that the violence be ended. They should be demanding that their government moves forward instead of squabbling over which region has the most power.

    If I were president, I would have conquered Iraq and given power of the country to the Kuwaitis after Iraq invaded them in the 90’s. That way the Kuwaitis could get back what they were owed by Iraq and establish stability while they were there. The Kuwaitis had a much better understanding of Iraq than the USA does, so with our support, I’m sure they would have been much more successful at setting up a new government than we have been.

  25. 25 VictorK
    May 2, 2008 at 17:08

    @Ana: very sorry if I misrepresented you.

    I agree with what you say about people not always having enough information to make meaningful judgements about issues across the world. This is why I think a programme like WHYS can have an important role to play.

    @ Viola: yes, the bottomline is that we can’t care about everything, just those things that appeal to us for whatever reason (or unreason). I accept what you say about propaganda, brainwashing and advertising (though I’m not so sure about hardwiring). Though Western societies are not immune to the first and third, there are alternative and rival sources of opinion and information that I like to think have some corrective influence (though the number of people in the US, for example, who genuinely believed Saddam had a hand in 9-11 underlines the extent to which we can be manipulated or misdirected). It does bring to mind how hopeless the situation is in a country like China, which has hit the jackpot with all three forms of ‘mind control’ (did any WHYS blogger identifying himself as Chinese ever express support for Tibet? From a country of more than 1 billion!).

    Most posters (including me) have so far not set out what makes them care or not care. Perhaps you had a point about hardwiring after all and our deepest beliefs depend on things that can’t be explained rationally, or that are matters of faith as much as they are of reason.

  26. 26 Kalypso
    May 2, 2008 at 17:28

    Yes, I always wonder: why does, for example, Zimbabwe get so much attention and what’s happening in Ethiopia is hardly ever mentioned. Really, the BBC is also to blame, I always hear about Mugabe etc. and all the human rights abuses and oppression and all that Meles is doing to his people, is hardly ever mentioned. Why?
    And Kenya – so much coverage. Why? I don’t want to be unfair here. But Zimbabwe, Kenya, Ghana, South Africa … – what do they have in common… well, the British were there, if I’m not mistaken … and Ethiopia? It was never a colony. I don’t know if I’m right, but I was thinking like that.
    But really it’s so unfair. Ethiopia (and, of course, many other countries) should really get more coverage.
    Why did Kofi Anan go to Kenya and tried so hard to negotiate and all, and no one tries to help the opposition in Ethiopia? The international community should come to the aid of the people of Ethiopia!
    Kalypso – Vienna, Austria

  27. 27 Peter Gizzi UK
    May 2, 2008 at 17:38

    I tend to agree with CarlosK above. In The UK our National Media bombards us with news of the contest between Barak Obahma (spelling?) and Hilary Clinton. This has little to do with British Voters.

    We rarely hear news about The European Union which costs us money and many do not want? Why is this? One very good programme is aired at 05.30 on a Sunday morning when I imagine most people are still in bed. I record it weekly.

    Having said that the 35% turn out in our local elections yesterday demonstrates how politicians have divorced themselves from British Voters.

  28. May 2, 2008 at 18:12

    Good topic!
    I am particularly concerned because I am from the DRC and have been wondering whether our blood makes any sense in this world.
    Since the war started in my country, I have lost 50 relatives, but who cares about it?
    It’s not only the western media to be blamed but also our own local media.
    The only wonderful things our media does, is to promote the local musicians, campaign for politicians and advertise businesses but never talk about real issues affecting Africa.

  29. 29 Jude in Oregon
    May 2, 2008 at 18:15

    The modern newsmedia hold tremendous power to shape public opinion.

    We in America hear a lot about Tibet, Burma, the Middle East, and Darfur, but we don’t hear about the oppression of the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch and Orthodox Christians in the Constaninopolitan See in modern-day Istanbul.

    A year-and-a-half ago, when Pope Benedict visited EP Bartholomew, much hay was made about the risk to the Pope’s life and the levels of security he was meeting upon his arrival in Istanbul. But the Orthodox Ecumenical Patriarch and Orthodox Christians in Istanbul face those risks every day from the Turkish government and its citizens, yet it goes unreported.

    Perhaps it’s because more people are Catholic. Perhaps controversy is easier to stir with China because of their rapidly burgeoning market – not to mention international dependence on their economic production – and the effect on the ’08 Olympics. And perhaps we in America hear little about Turkey because they’re one of the few “allies” we have in our Middle Eastern wars.

    It isn’t fair, it isn’t balanced. But with all the power the modern media hold, there’s little that can be done unless someone of high visiblity uses the media to raise the issue.

  30. 30 John Smith
    May 2, 2008 at 18:16

    Finally, people who agree with me. The issues which affect the large majority of the population of any society is dictated by the media. Most people do not seek information about things which do not directly affect them and merely rely on news organisations to indicate what is happening in the wider society and the world. The media in a major way responsible for the indifference withing the world, because the only news which sells is sensational news and as soon as it loses it’s lustre, the news is shelved in preference to what is currently hot.

  31. 31 Tracy
    May 2, 2008 at 18:16

    I watch TV 24/7 but at the end of the day, ALL the causes I support I get information on from my church or friends who live around the world. The move to allow the media control what one does or does not focus attention on is a personal choice made by individuals and I doubt the media is to blame for this.

  32. 32 Alex
    May 2, 2008 at 18:16

    On the issue, Why Do we care about some issues more than others:

    In the example, about more money in Britain being given to abused animals rather than domestically abused women– more money is given to the animals because it is just easier to deal with. People close their eyes to large issues because they’re too difficult to change and control. Easy issues get taken care of first, which leaves the large issues in crisis, and thus these problems grow.

  33. 33 Thomas Murray
    May 2, 2008 at 18:18

    It’s not that some participants selectively care about some issues. In my case, I feel reticent to comment on African related issues because I know so little about the continent. To that end I feel I could do more harm than good.

    It’s Derby in Louisville. Everybody’s drunk.

    –Cheers. Kentucky, US.

  34. 34 onlymyname
    May 2, 2008 at 18:25

    The answer is simple: Because the BBC tells us what’s important and what is not. Just look at the disproportionate coverage of Zimbabwe compared to the Congo, north Uganda and Somalia. The former British prime minister Harold Wilson described the British approach in the 1970s as a “kith and kin” policy. With the western media and peoples, there’s no change. No wonder Chinese people around the world support China right or wrong as they see how the west operate. Keep going BBC we all delighting in your shame. Only My View

  35. 35 Scott Millar
    May 2, 2008 at 18:25

    CHANCE + Much of this is a mix of chance and trend. Yes, people are shallow. Yes, people often don’t care about “big” issues. But, it would be a stretch to say there is a true collective disinterest in the suffering of others.

    FAMILIARITY + Countries that are esoteric to the superpowers and their people are not going to attract the same interest as those places that are familiar. Also, in daily life we are interested in the affairs of people we know best. Or even superficially, the celebrities we are familiar with.

    EXPECTATION + From many locations we simply expect the worst, fairly and otherwise, based on history or perception. If we expect bad news, when it comes, it doesn’t seem noteworthy.

    – Portland, Oregon

  36. May 2, 2008 at 18:29

    I’m sorry but I cannot have sympathy for the problems of other countries when the problems here in the states are so extensive. There are children raising themselves, Blacks killing Blacks, Mexicans killing Mexicans, students going on shooting sprees, babies being born addicts, parents bombarding there children with anti-anxiety drugs because they don’t want to deal with the child’s issues. All you guys who would go outside of your country to deal with another country’s problems and abandoning the problems in your own country should be ashamed of yourselves.

  37. 37 Josh in USA
    May 2, 2008 at 18:30

    It seems to me worth noting that the social-political situation most people in the world spend most of their anger and energy on Israel and the Palestinians.

    The one thing you can say for sure about that particular conflict is that viewpoints vary. One side says a group of people is trying, sometimes clumsily but under constant attack, to humanely defend the only country in the Middle East that defends human rights (where you can be, say, gay, or a woman, and still have social standing). Meanwhile the other side says these same people are unilaterally undertaking a project of genocide equivalent to Nazi Germany, which by extension makes it far more of an issue than, say, Darfur.

    The only solution, it seems to me, and an easy one at that, is to get people around the world to somehow associate other crises with the Jews. Then we’ll get some action.

  38. 38 Ayo
    May 2, 2008 at 18:30

    We care about problems going on in countries where there are a lot of resources to be lost or found. DRC has elephants and Ivory so only PETA and PETA lovers care bout the DRC. Sudan has Oil, So the EU and USA will always care. Tibet can be a sore on the face of Great China, a country that is causing a lot of competition for the USA, so Tibet matters. Personally I care right now about the case of the Austrian father who abused his daughter, because I care a lot about violence against women. When will that stop. I am tired of men battering women, cheating on women, suppressing their rights like they do in Saudi Arabia, and killing women. I only care about Congo because of the women who get raped everyday there. The little girls who get raped etc. that’s my only reason for caring about Congo. I care not if all the men annihilated themselves. I only care about the women.

    Ayo E in MD, USA

  39. 39 Brandon
    May 2, 2008 at 18:34

    I’m a U.S. citizen. The answer is convenience. If I have to expend energy on understanding other countries, their problems or anything outside my immediate realm, I don’t.

  40. May 2, 2008 at 18:35

    Let’s not forget the case of hunger in Africa in the 80s was brought to the world through a BBC report about starvation in Ethiopia. That triggered global awareness from politicians to stars to ordinary people to alleviate misery in this continent. But support is still debatable.

    As long as a story has depth , it’s worth reporting globally. What is worrying is when the media becomes a propaganda machine with imbalanced and one-sided approaches to events for political and economic reasons.

  41. 41 John Smith - Jamaica
    May 2, 2008 at 18:39

    It isn’t about colonies, it is about resources. Yes former colonial powers may try to influence public opinion of their former foreign holdings, but in the end it is all about resources.

  42. 42 Trent West
    May 2, 2008 at 18:40

    I am tired of helping and being asked to help. It feels like the whole world is going under and the people in the west are asked to help and donate money and other resources. I give a total of about US$400 every month to about four international aid organations. I think it is unfair for anyone to place a guilt trip on people in the west.

    I am done, come June this year I am stopping my donations and use the money on a brand new 60 inch LCD 1080i television.

    Good luck

  43. 43 Kelly
    May 2, 2008 at 18:40

    People gravitate towards charitable causes that they care about.
    Non human animals are innocent-and they are excluded from most human legal channels. Many people want to help the helpless.

    There are so many causes, so many problems, you end up cherry picking and going with the flow.
    It is just the way it is.


  44. 44 Jitan
    May 2, 2008 at 18:41

    I think the success of a cause totally depends on the media. In yday’s show one of the mothers said that the media is not interested if there is no spice. The problem is the developing world is unable to create the spice of their causes that First world countries can. Everybody cried and yet remembers 9/11 and London bomb blasts. But does anyone remember the Pakistan earthquake or Tsunami anymore?.
    Jitan in New york

  45. 45 John Smith - Jamaica
    May 2, 2008 at 18:41

    We could argue this all day, but no one person will be satisfied, unless the crave is for news on Iraq and Afghanistan. Most days when I listen to the foreign news, it begins with the “local news” in Iraq. Is a bombing at a mosque in Iraq more significant than the bombing at a mosque in Yemen?

  46. 46 Fred
    May 2, 2008 at 18:42

    It’s not that I don’t empathise with the plight about people suffering in other countries, but when it comes to my charity donations I swing towards three things: children, the environment and animals. I feel that kids, animals and the planet way too often get the short end of the stick and don’t have enough advocacy, nor are they always able to stand up and do for themselves.

  47. 47 Maria
    May 2, 2008 at 18:42

    The amount of attention the media gives to a story is critical to the continuity to a cause. if the spotlight is taking from a story it tends to leave the minds of the audience.
    New York

  48. 48 Ryan
    May 2, 2008 at 18:43

    I volunteer with a woman who used to volunteer in an abused women’s center. The stories she has are heart shattering, mainly because they usually end with the abused woman returning to the man who has convinced her she is so worthless, she needs him to survive. I think many people feel, correct or not, that because women have some level of autonomy over their lives, they bear a responsibility to improve their conditions on their own. Cute and cuddly animals do not have such an opportunity, and thus many feel a responsibility to help save those who do not have the free will to save themselves.

    -= Cheers =-

  49. 49 steve
    May 2, 2008 at 18:44

    @ Trent

    do you live in Northern Virginia by any chance? I’m sure football would look great on that TV. I’ll bring the beer.

  50. 50 devadas.v - Kerala, India by email
    May 2, 2008 at 18:44

    some issues are given more prominence – cant be explained due to one or two issues:
    it may be due to geographical ,economic ,cultural ,lack of education, and purposeful diluting of some issues and ballooning issues of other wants by world media for their own good. All act as a reason for this biased way of issue-raising.
    for me, the issue of kakkad river which was destroyed due to the failed policy of building a dam and a canal thus depriving thousands of their agricultural land and fishing in kakkad river in kakkad region which is 3kms. where i stay it’s easy to report due to the proximity to the issues rather than making comments on far off issues .
    even though it might be a regional issue it gains worldwide attention as the UN now says the only solution for food shortage is to minimise the distance between the production area and the consumer in short to produce regionally. thus this kakkad river destruction has prominence by interlinking of regional issues at national and international level. teh food problems we have now is the cumulative effect of all this kind of regional problems .

  51. 51 Allan Derby by email
    May 2, 2008 at 18:45

    I think every report is based on public interest. In the United States, we range from what Britney Spears did last night to the aftermath of the Iraq conflict. Personally, I follow reports that impact the Nation and the World, I.e. Fuel, Environment, and our day to day lives.

  52. 52 Brandon
    May 2, 2008 at 18:45

    Cause let’s face it. We’ve always been told it’s good to do a good thing, but it only leads to sacrifice,… at a time when we already have high gas prices, ..I think the folks who should bail out these hungry countries should be people like the sultan of Brunei, who loves us spending more at the pump. He could sell his solid gold sink on his $220 million personal aircraft and feed Africa. I’m thinkin’ it’s time this elite layer of a$$holes needs to sacrifice; how come we never turn to them? Our credit cards are maxed out so we can feed their ever-more-hungry butts, ..so until I see some serious effort in helping, ..forget it, nothing you can say abouteither or any issue can grab my attention enough care.

  53. 53 kwabena owusu-ampratwum
    May 2, 2008 at 18:46

    Whatever we decide to care about is dictated by the media. I realise BBCs reports are a little bias toward British interest. Zimbabwe is constantly in the news because Mugabe took away farms from British citizens. Aljazeera focuses on its middle east and islam interest. And this resonates throughout the world media.

  54. 54 John Smith - Jamaica
    May 2, 2008 at 18:46

    To be fair to media houses…
    1. They run a business and in order to be successful you have to be able to capture the needs of your clients. However, they have successfully managed to dictate what the clients want to hear.
    2. There are so many interests to be served that someone will always feel left out. Those who care about an issue know where to go to seek information, which is why blogs and global chat groups are important to supplement the mainstream news services.

  55. 55 Kalypso
    May 2, 2008 at 18:46

    p.s. what i forgot before: another reason, i believe, why what’s going on in ethiopia is hardly ever mentioned is that the United States supports Meles’ regime because Meles does whatever the U.S. wants, such as fighting in Somalia.
    the u.S. dont care whether a leader oppresses and kills his people, all they care about is whether he acts in the interest of the united states.
    Kalypso – Vienna, Austria

  56. May 2, 2008 at 18:53

    World HAve Your Say

    Combining “Domestic Abuse” with Burma, Darfur and Congo relief efforts is denigrating and cheapening of the latter. It is goofy and confusing, I have no clear idea what your point is or exactly “what dog you are barking at” with the semantic “domestic abuse”.

    I do know that Darfur involves Christian abuse and that is a vast commonality among the donars.

    To me Burma and Congo are primarily legacies of the British and Belgium Imperialism.

    If, by “domestic abuse”, you are throwing a bone to the western white women, then give me a break. MEdia runs out and finds a nutcase in Austria, and then that result is plastered around as “one of Jerry’s kids”, purporting to represent some true condition. Domestic violence is a political tool used in the American divorce industry to wrest power, money, and control and destroy fathers. It is a tool of slavery to perpetuate a vast American industry. Most of the “Wymin” arguing “DV” have an Orwellian view of “equal gender rights”, and could not recognise a valid statistic if it bit them in the arse. They are making a good living off of the drama.
    Why did you not have a representative from the Irish “Amen” group, they would not have spoken exclusively about women victims. I will likely marry an African American woman 15 yrs. after losing custoidy of my 4 yr old daughter. To compare oppression between white women and the African American experience truly show hows how idiotic the DV argument is.

    Thomas T Young, western Americana

  57. 57 steve
    May 2, 2008 at 18:55

    @ Ayo

    ” I am tired of men battering women, cheating on women, suppressing their rights like they do in Saudi Arabia, and killing women.”

    Actually Ayo, statistics show that women cheat more than men do.


    http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1144414531354 (Paternity fraud, men are raising children that aren’t actually theirs because she ran out and cheated. It’s thought that up to 20% of kids aren’t the product of the marriage)



    A lot of men get battered by women, but get laughed at if they do anything about it, such as going to the authorities.

  58. May 2, 2008 at 18:55

    Hi Precious Nick ! :-). Thanks a million for your response. 1stly you’ve made lots of points about the conflict in my Iraq that I’d really love to reply to, but I unfortunately can’t do that here because I simply don’t wanna go out of the topic of today’s programme. May be on Blank Page no.5 Inshallah ! However Precious Nick, you’ve raised a very good point : I’m no fan at all of the many and many wrongful policies and acts of the Israeli government and the Israeli army… When an innocent Israeli civilian gets killed by Palestinian militants, will I be able to grieve and mourn him/her as an innocent civilian and a human being who’s got murdered senselessly, or will I say : Hey wait ! He/she is an Israeli, and the Israeli government and army are both committing many and many wrongful acts against many and many innocent Palestinian civilians, so I just shouldn’t grieve or mourn him/her ?! And can good Victork (who’s obviously a very firm supporter of the policies of the Israeli government and army) grieve or mourn the senseless murdering of innocent Palestinian civilians without going into the game of finding justifications or excuses ?! Can all of us consider human life to be sacred anywhere around the world beyond the limits of religion, ethnicity and race ?! Can all of us condemn strongly the senseless murdering of any innocent civilian anywhere around the world without going into the game of finding justifications or excuses ?! With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  59. 59 Steve
    May 2, 2008 at 18:58

    Hi ROZ, it’s 3 things essentially.

    ONE – is about what and who we identify with. If it’s not in my language, I don’t feel guilty and it’s not a media icon reminding me, then the issue will have a hard time getting my attention.

    TWO – is being inundated by the sheer volume of causes demanding my attention. These range from the local adopt an abondoned pet project, to public health awareness, to international environmental causes to sudden eruptions of media attention such as the Tibetan Independence because of the upcoming Olympics of course.

    THREE – are long term, repetitive causes like Africa where the equivalent of 5 Marshall aid plans since the 1960s have not made a dent in 4 decades of continuous war, drought and hunger leaving me tired, numb and disillusioned.

    THE RESULT is you get a specific cause like Congo trying to not only:
    rise above the din of so many other worthwhile causes on the one hand and,
    this cause trying to find a way to resonate with me personally.

    And so ironically, you end up with this upward spiral, where it will only become harder and harder to get my attention next time, as the cause-of-the-monent gets drowned out by the next trendy issue which swallows my time, money and attention.

  60. 60 Ayo
    May 2, 2008 at 19:01


    By the way the Sun is not a reliable source of statistical information.( I think they usually have a disclaimer to that effect) Number two, you are only looking at cases in the USA. Men cheat more often than women around the world generally. Women are beaten and battered more often than men the world and over. Broaden your Worldview. Isnt that what we are talking about? Or how many men in Saudi do you think are not battering their wives or how many women in DRC are battering their Husbands?

  61. 61 charlotte koopman
    May 2, 2008 at 19:04

    it’s easier to me to get interested in a cause when i am better informed about the general life in the country,
    when i know more about the music for example, or the foodculture, or the landscape.
    after i had heard a documentary about zimbabwian music for example i was listening more conscious to other zimbabwian issues.
    it is like i need a ‘roomtone’ to background the issue.

  62. 62 mastaki
    May 2, 2008 at 19:05

    In my opinion, it depends of who are involved; what interests are at stake.

    Regarding who are involved. Case of Central Africa. Rwanda got a huge cover before the RPF get the power. From then, no one is covering that region. Why? If you give a good cover to DRCongo, you will make the entire world know that it is the Rwandan regime supported mostly by the US and Britain that is behind most of the problem in DRCongo. The world will discover that a lot of western companies are involved in the DRCongo crisis. Rwanda, for instance, has been benefiting from a huge diplomatic coverage from its two main allies for what they are doing in DRCongo where row minerals are looted by the West despite a huge and incoparable human rights abuse.

    In Darfur, by contrast, the same two allies of Rwanda are against the regime in Karthoun in the name of the War on terror (my guess). So, they are supporting any movement opposing the Sudanese regime.

  63. May 2, 2008 at 19:06

    In my opinion, it depends of who are involved; what interests are at stake.

    There are too many issues for anyone to follow.

    A step up would be to concentrate on root causes of those problems.

  64. 64 Marie Jones
    May 2, 2008 at 19:07

    The media has a profound affect how the world views suffering and how people respond to suffering. I also think that it maybe easier for people to respond to animal rights than to human injustices because there is not the issue of human prejudice that we have with various groups of people who maybe suffering.

  65. 65 Michiel,Netherlands
    May 2, 2008 at 19:08

    Hi World Have Your Say,

    Without getting into the issue itself, as a sinologist, I have noticed that most of the people in support of the free-Tibet cause are not actually aware of the full complexity of the issue. They receive information /only/ from the charity they support. I, specialized in contemporary Chinese politics, realise they are being fed incomplete information.

    This causes me personally to be hesitant to support /any /cause, since I’m affraid all these organisations aren’t actually in the business of informing us, but are in the business of getting us ot reach for our wallets.

    Because of this, I only support local causes that produce immediate visible results, eventhough they might be less important than the issues discussed in your show.

    With kind regards,

  66. 66 Joel Salomon
    May 2, 2008 at 19:13

     I give you Joel’s Law:
    “Once the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been raised in a discussion thread, it will be considered ‘on-topic’ by a sufficient number of people, taking either side of the argument, that the thread will never get back to its original purpose.” —Me, just now.

  67. 67 Paul Raybould
    May 2, 2008 at 19:14

    A quick note in response to an earlier caller::

    Donors want to know:

    § That their gift has been received

    § That their gift is appreciated

    § That their gift has been set to work as intended

    § That there are measurable results on their gifts prior to being asked for another contribution

    100% of all gifts that we receive goes to fund animal health studies. Our admin costs are paid for by an annual draw on our endowment. This is a huge selling point for us and yes, celebrities typically want expenses paid and/or a fee…

    Great program!

  68. 68 Kim
    May 2, 2008 at 19:15

    I volunteer for UNICEF in Oregon. One of the challenges I have is educating my community. I find folks just don’t know much about international issues. They are also very concerned about sending their money to legitimate organizations and whether the money will actually get to the people who need it and not eaten up in administration costs. When they are educated, I find they are compassionate and willing to give.

  69. 69 Ayodeji E. MD, USA
    May 2, 2008 at 19:16

    To be honest, even as an African myself, I am tired of hearing about all the woes going on in Africa. I am tired of the fighting, I am tired of the murders and all the crazy dictators. So I have managed to isolate my cares to a few issues which include the suffering of women. I wont blame the world if they were tired of Africa, But I insist that the big powerful countries ( perhaps I should say their governments alone) only care about where they get their oil, who is getting it before them, or at a better price than they are.

  70. 70 Ken Portland, OR
    May 2, 2008 at 19:17

    In Al Gore’s book about taking action to prevent environmental disasters, Life In the Balance, he makes the point that people are motivated to take action when they feel they can really make a difference. For example, when two whales were trapped in the ice in northern Alaska in the late 1980’s, a huge international effort and millions of dollars were focused on saving them, with ice-breakers deployed and helicopters and a huge amount of media. Meanwhile, relatively little support and coverage was being given to address the greater threats to the populations of the worlds’ whales. Gore argues that people need to feel there is hope in order to feel their efforts are worthwhile. I
    think the same is true for human tragedies. If it seems too big to address, I think people turn away and focus their efforts on smaller situations that can be more likely to yield visible results.

  71. 71 Josh, home station KALW, SF
    May 2, 2008 at 19:17

    It seems to me worth noting that the social-political situation most people in the world spend most of their anger and energy on Israel and the Palestinians.

    The one thing you can say for sure about that particular conflict is that viewpoints vary. One side says a group of people is trying, sometimes clumsily but under constant attack, to humanely defend the only country in the Middle East that defends human rights (where you can be, say, gay, or a woman, and still have social standing). Meanwhile the other side says these same people are unilaterally undertaking a project of genocide equivalent to Nazi Germany, which by extension makes it far more of an issue than, say, Darfur.

    The only solution, it seems to me, and an easy one at that, is to get people around the world to somehow associate other crises with the Jews. Then we’ll get some action.

  72. May 2, 2008 at 19:19

    My name is Ngalula and I currently live in the U.S. The reason why the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo is not given much coverage by the media is because the US government is supplying arms and training to Rwandan and Ugandan rebels occupying the Congo in exchange for Congo’s minerals. One such highly sought after mineral is coltan, which is used in cell phone, computer, xbox, play station, gameboy, stereo, DVD player, television, kitchen appliances, and microwaves

  73. 73 Bob La Jungle
    May 2, 2008 at 19:20

    One reason why people stop taking in all the horrors of the world is that the problems are just too overwhelming, with no visible hope for redress. If people felt something useful could be and was being done about the problems, then there would be some positive reinforcement, some incentive to start thinking about the problems in a constructive way. But at this stage, when situations seem completely hopeless, one tends to think: What good is it thinking about this, when there is nothing to be done?

  74. 74 Wyatt - Oregon
    May 2, 2008 at 19:21

    I feel more passionately about those things I can help with. It becomes such a burden to hear again and again about travesties which I can do nothing about. I tend to get involved with causes in which my involvement makes a difference.

    I’ve also noticed that I tend to care more when those who are conveying the information keep it factual, instead of playing off my emotions. Many people come to my college to talk about issues like Darfur or Tibet. Those who tell their own story, and give the facts, are more effective than those who show slides of dead babies and wounds and repeat the same phrases over and over. It is important to recognize that these issues are complex, and to hide the complexities will not help the cause at all.

  75. 75 Gordon Portland Oregon
    May 2, 2008 at 19:22

    I find myself caring about issues which I come in contact with, for example, Hopital sans Frontiere, a small organization based in Belgium, which does amazing work and is basically run and maintained by one man, earned my total admiration years ago, and therefore receives my help when possible.

  76. 76 Nick in USA
    May 2, 2008 at 19:31


    You’ve made some excellent points, and I will try to stay on topic as well. We should always mourn the losses of people on either side of the Israel/ Palestine issue, and we should fight to prevent these things from happening again. There are no justifications and there are no excuses in this issue. These two groups of people have been causing themselves pain for too long. To tell you the truth, I even mourn the losses of the terrorists because they were born into such a terrible situation and brainwashed into believing that terrorism was their only option. However, I can’t, the USA and the UK can’t, help any society who won’t help themselves. So… Yes, I am fed up with the situation, but that doesn’t mean I don’t care and mourn the loss of a human.

    In retrospect, to say that I don’t care about abused women is not accurate. I do care, but I’ll spend more energy trying to help people who are trying to help themselves.

  77. 77 steve
    May 2, 2008 at 19:38

    @ Josh:

    Well, at least in Iran, they don’t have homosexuals. So they don’t need gay rights there. Their President swears they don’t have any, so it must be true!!

  78. 78 Joel Salomon
    May 2, 2008 at 19:41

     Then, in an attempt to disprove my own Law, I’ll try to address the question raised in this WHYS post:
     We can’t all of us have the same priorities; if we did, then the highest-priority concerns would have everybody’s attention—far more of it than would be needed—and other concerns would be neglected. Also, it’s entirely natural to care more for people and events that are close to us by whatever criterion: geography, religion, ethnic identity, common history, &c.
     Past that there’s a feedback effect: once we’re talking about election trouble in Zimbabwe, or of genocide in Sudan, talk of similar crises elsewhere becomes a distraction, even if the others are older, even if they prepared people’s minds for this concern.

  79. 79 Saakwa, ghanaian living in uk - via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:43

    I think the western world do not care enough about africa.We as africans should wake up&solve our own problems..

  80. 80 Walter in Entebbe - via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:45

    This has a lot to do with a mix of bias about some countries like china which are in west’s bad books and lousy favours to countries like Uganda which are in good books.

  81. 81 Babagana in Nigeria - via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:46

    Dear,BBC.Organizations, affluent countries and media should give equal treatment in anything.

  82. 82 Igboro frm nigeria - via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:47

    I think it is all about area of interest,compare a rigged presidential election in nigeria, kenya & zimbabwe to isolated killings in somalia.

  83. 83 Sahr Kaimbay, Zimmi-Sierra Leone. - via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:47

    The problem of Africa can only be solved by Africans themselves not the Western World.

  84. 84 Akin Adu, Lagos - via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:48

    President Bush prefers spending more money on war than donating it for food aid. The world indeed has a wrong set of priorities.

  85. 85 Brian in Namibia - via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:48

    What is covered in the news and what is not covered is determined by how well it can be sponsered/sold. If it cant be sponsered by or sold to many ppl it wont be covered and thus ppl wont hear about it or be able to help or be helped

  86. 86 Muthi malawi - via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:49

    There’s very clear pity fatigue towards africa when we must understand that relief work is not about pity but rather about duty and passion for mankind.

  87. 87 maxime in kaduna
    May 2, 2008 at 19:51

    Any time i see somebody in difficult situation: children living in the street,beggers…,i feel so bad,so terrified but i don’t have means to bring them out of the situation so that they can live the way i live.other people do not care about such thing,they are instead interested in things that do have much sense such as the beijing olympic game and other.this is how the world is today.

  88. 88 selena
    May 2, 2008 at 19:52


    I love you but how long has it been since we, in the West, have had homosexuals?

    30 – 40 years, at the most. Give Iran a chance to catch up! 🙂

  89. 89 Muthi malawi
    May 2, 2008 at 19:53

    Is it about info or is the west just too soaked up with paris hilton’s sex life. Again i say we need 2 get our priorities straight…we need 2 put the sustenance of mankind first.

  90. 90 Anon text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:53

    This differential treatment of the world’s peoples is a manifestation of the international community’s failure 2 universally apply the principle of common humanity 4 all

  91. 91 from okechukwu nwankwo-zambia via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:54

    Celebrity is vital in raising awarness. princess diana knew this. she did a lot in raising awarenes on landmines.a l gore on global warming. jimmy carter and kofi anan. celebrity is crucial in setting the agenda..

  92. 92 Maibe abbas from kaduna nigeria via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:55

    For me, the media is the biggest player coz an issue persistently being repeated over the media becomes a concern for me..

  93. 93 steve
    May 2, 2008 at 19:56

    I’m gonna hold you to that Selena. They better be having drag queen high heel races in Iran by 2048.

  94. 94 Anon via text
    May 2, 2008 at 19:58

    There are no human rights defenders in this world. People were butchered in Rwanda in Darfur and now in Zimbabwe whilst the world is just watching on the sidelines

  95. 95 Jimmy in zambia.
    May 2, 2008 at 19:59

    The challenge in africa is that we lack a powerful media house to cover and draw attention 2 african issues from am african perspective, unlike europe which has BBC, America with CNN, and the middle east with Al jazera.

  96. 96 VictorK
    May 2, 2008 at 20:11

    @Lubna: you wrote, ‘And can good Victork (who’s obviously a very firm supporter of the policies of the Israeli government and army) grieve or mourn the senseless murdering of innocent Palestinian civilians without going into the game of finding justifications or excuses ?!’

    I’m sorry when innocent people die, but that’s beside the point when it comes to what I think about Israel and Palestine. Why do I take the positions that I do? For the following reasons:
    *I’m not persuaded by the claim that the Palestinians are a nation, and only a nation can qualify for statehood. Israel is a nation and has a unique relationship to its territory that vindicates its right to exist.
    *Israel is a state that makes a contribution to civilisation (regardless of its faults); A Palestinian state will never make such a contribution. Israel is worth something culturally that its enemies aren’t.
    *The Palestinians are fighting for what they formerly had (pre-1967), when they also possessed Jerusalem! I find it difficult to sympathise with any people who create their own problems and then expect others to solve them (which is how I now regard Iraq – a country that could be at peace and enjoying its oil wealth if that’s what all Iraqis wanted).
    *I don’t care for Jihadism, Shariaism or ‘Islamism’: they are, now, all big parts of the Palestinian cause.
    *I think the Palestinians divert attention from much more important issues across the world.
    *Much of the Palestinians’ current predicament seems to me to have been contrived by the Arab states who should have helped them. 600,000 Palestinian refugees could easily have been established in the West Bank and Gaza, either as new states or as part of Egypt and Jordan. They have now expanded to 4 million ‘refugees’ (Q.: how can you be a refugee from a country you weren’t born in?) living in ‘refugee camps’ that to the uninitiated look a lot like ordinary cities and towns. Why? Because (as bloggers have previously noted) they serve a useful political purpose for Arab and Muslim governments by being reduced to a condition of permanet victimhood. They also give Muslims across the world the pleasure of vicarious victimhood, letting them enjoy the most self-righteous wailing and gnashing of teeth at no personal cost at all.
    *Many Palestinian supporters tell outright lies (the Israelis have killed 2 million; the Palestinians are subjected to a Kosher Jim Crow; etc) and often come across as anti-semites (and ‘Protocols of the Elders…’ style anti-semitism is now fairly common in many parts of the Arab world). My comments on Israel, you’ll find, are often just correctives to those lies or challenges to the anti-semites.
    *I’m increasingly of the view that Jordan is the Palestinian state.

  97. 97 Ahmad Hammad
    May 2, 2008 at 22:51

    I don’t think that whatever captures media is potent enough to draw our attention. Every channel has its own policy and thus is deprived of the popularity of the shows she aspires for.
    For example, the state television in Pakistan, under the tyrannical rule of Pervez Musharraf, had been speaking volumes of the terrorism that it was our major concern but the civil society was simply unmoved. The civil society rather cared about the re-instatement of the judiciary.

    From this glimpse, I infer that we in general care about the issues which are directly related to our sufferings somehow.

    Seeking for justice and dreaming of the rule of law is in instict of human beings. Therefore, they care about the matters they are psychologically concerned. And the psyshe of a person is directly affected and eventually shaped up by the environment he is living in.

    I mean, the Americans must be caring about the casualties of their soldiers in Iraq but the Iraqis must be caring about their dying innocent people.

    We care about the affair in which we are directly the stakeholders, be financially, socially or psychologically… Otherwise we are unmoved!

    In spite of having great interest in the international politics, We don’t care in Pakistan whether Mogabe loses or wins. We rather care about the reinstatement of our deposed judges!!!

  98. May 3, 2008 at 04:13

    there are certain issue media is obscessed.As for in the context of nepal tibetan issue.Western media is covering as if nepal is dealing very brutally with the protestors which is wrong.Nepal can’t anger it’s powerful northern neigbour so it should show to china it is trying to disrupt protests it doesn’t have any other option.But besides it nepal is also going through political change which western media is not covering becoz it doesn’t have any economic intrest in it.it is focussing in tibet becoz of economic intrest and becoz of its mission to show to world that its system of governance is better than china .western media is in mission to establishing westen thought throughout world.

  99. 99 Bamine Charlie Boye
    May 3, 2008 at 08:43

    The media is having key role to play on those issues of concern.
    But it seems as the media is more interested in some issues than the other in other to create more alarm to people.
    Its high time for the media to stop giving some issues top priority.
    The way how people are suffering in DRC is very bad and its going from bad to worst every day. Its high time for you the world media houses to focus on it so that people may be inform.
    Am seek and tired of you prioritizing your reporting issues to specific countries

  100. 100 jeanie
    May 3, 2008 at 09:15

    For the few who have the time to scan the internet for worthwhile info, it is getting better about global international real news… but you do have to dig, if left to my local broadcasts and headlines Id be right there with the rest of the sheep in my local.I just want to say thank you.. and please keep talking I’ve been in the dark for 56 years its time I got my head out of the sand.

  101. 101 Vernon
    May 3, 2008 at 17:06

    I don’t blame people for switching off as far as being able to do something about the wide range of causes is concerned. Instead of having to divide one’s attention between all these things, wouldn’t it be much easier if one could do one thing that will impact positively on all issues? Unfortunately that thing is frowned upon and thought of as divisive but imagine if people took it seriously. And that is, responding to the invitation that the gospel of Christ holds out and making a commitment. It addresses the issue of the “carnal nature” of humanity (sin)and deals with it. After all isn’t this at the heart of most of these issues that give rise to the causes discussed on the program?

  102. 102 viola anderson
    May 3, 2008 at 17:09

    We care about certain issues because something has captured our attention. What captures our attention is determined by our individual personalities and histories.

  103. 103 fred
    May 3, 2008 at 19:17

    if you google USS Liberty, you will find that US mainstream media have not reported about how their own army got massacred by their ally in 1967. US mainstream media blind spot the news for more than 40 years. Selective reporting started at least 40 years ago. USA Today will still not report USS Liberty today.

    my point is, even if mainstream media control what issues we care about and what not for since the beginning of time, it doesn’t need to be that way any more. in this internet age, there are so many alternative media sources that we can chose what we like. if mainstream media reported too little on Sean Bell’s Killing, read democracynow.org instead. we are empowered to read and care about what we want.

    STOP blaming the mainstream media already. if we know they are not in our interest, get alternative news sources instead.

  104. 104 Andrew Cooper
    May 3, 2008 at 20:44

    I must reply to someone who is tired of hearing about conflict, and who prefers to rescue pets instead of attending to the needs of abused women and those humans bereaved or displaced by war. I feel sure that Nick would stand up against armed repression, even if his own family were threatened. No doubt he has lost members of his own family already, and this explains his reaction of boredom and indifference. As to his earlier comment about abused women, women trapped in abusive situations have a choice, even though they appear not to have. They can take their children and throw themselves on the mercy of marvelously efficient local government services; they can put their children in foster care, where they will no doubt be wonderfully nurtured in a home where folks are paid to love them; or they can kill their abusers and go to jail, where they can give their kids excellent attention at least during visiting hours.
    For my own part, I do disagree with nick on one issue: the media need to inform us about human suffering, because if we are going to make decisions about which countries should be given to which others, then we need to make informed imperialist decisions. Look – we must inform ourselves about other peoples. Otherwise how can an Iraqi, who has lost home and family members, have sympathy for us in our terrible gas crisis?
    Andy Cooper in U.S.A

  105. 105 Nge Valentine
    May 4, 2008 at 10:34


    We should at times not blame those who do not care about others, I think there are many out there who cares but they do not have the means to get in touch with such persons. I am residing and studying in DR Congo and I am witnessing all the tragedies, hazardous, unbelievable, inhuman, how I wish some one could see for himself.
    Every where street childrens, cases of rape, displaced families, you can imagine the rest. Man is not an iland, we should have time to think of other. Someone who minds just his buisiness does not have human fellings for only humans can understand the sufferings of humans.
    In Kinshasa we are having a foyer orphans and street childrens, here in Lubumbashi we are looking for sponsors to open other foyers in other to give hope to these childrens for the future is theirs.
    I think ther are people who care but they do not have the someone to put that they have on mind onto practice, let them just look around and they will see.

    “the least you do unto these ones, it’s to me you are doing”


  106. 106 Zaynah
    May 4, 2008 at 13:25

    I think that media has a lot to do with it. We are living in a society where Posh and
    Becks or Flavour Flav are more important than what’s going on in Darfur or Tibet.

    Also, it’s almost like being ignorant about these issues is glorified, like for instance people can care less about if you know about wordly issues, but if you have no clue who Britney Spears is, you should see the look of shock on their faces.
    Ask a child what’s going on in Tibet, most would not be able to answer but ask them about Hanna montana, then they become a Miley Cyrus fact book. Why? Because you see and hear about Miley Cyrus way more than you do Palestine.

    I’m not saying to take all pop culture media away, but when it comes to the point were it’s more cared for than genocide in another country on OUR earth that WE share together, then it’s time to pull it back a little and begin to show what’s really important.

    There is no doubt in my mind that it would work, the media is extremely powerful in influencing people’s way of thinking, so let’s use that power in positive way.

  107. 107 Ingé Eveleigh
    May 4, 2008 at 20:15

    I am so grateful that we have this format of modern media which puts us in touch with the enormity of the world outside of everyon’s lives, even if I cannot do all the practical things needed, none of us can, so many of us try. What I do grieve over is the trivia with which so many people -live their lives in, & cannot tell the rubbish press from honest information press. Not that there is much of that!. If we were better educated we could tell this rubbish press to shut up, put up, & refuse to read it. This same press is so influential, if they only put half their resources into finding the truth to inform people better they could be the education of the future., For yrs. i read the old ‘Guardian’ which was reputedly supposed to be the most ‘honest’ paper in the UK, &occasional dips into the real press of the ‘Morning Star’. Now I realise how wrong I was to wait so long to join permanently the M.S which refuses to pander to celebrity, & commercial advertising. You just get clear unadulterated news of people’s lives, concentrated from all over the world. How their own countries treat their workers, respect or more often, disrespect their people. This trivia is so insulting to all the suffering that others have to take, wherever it is, at home, in Darfur, Nigeria, Burma, & all the other countries from which we get our information. I wish we could have a campaign against the lying press.! Ingé

  108. 108 steve
    May 5, 2008 at 14:43

    @ Fred

    If the USA Today doesn’t report the USS Liberty, why did I find this in one second?


  109. 109 Jeff Minter
    May 5, 2008 at 17:25

    We care about whatever the press want us to care about.

    It seems the ability to look beyond the obvious seems to be lost on the common human.

  110. 110 Jeff Minter
    May 5, 2008 at 17:56

    It’s also a race and power issue. In Congo the violence is black on black – the ‘white world’ still has major hangups over slavery, and hence are very cautious over disrupting black country affairs – far east asians have not suffered such a fate, and so are considered more open season to the white world than the former.

    The second is power; African countries in turmoil basically consists of a third world country fighting another third world country; they are insignificant to the world, and resolving such issues in the region will bring negligible benefits to the developed world economically and militarily.

    With Far East Asia, however, it’s the perfect place to intervene – resources are aplenty, a major superpower is rising and there are opportunties to exploit. By using the ‘lesser’ countries to annex the superpower (i.e. China), even deploying the use of further military bases in the region, the west (i.e. the US) can place their hold on the last region of uncooperative space.

  111. 111 John in Germany
    May 6, 2008 at 14:02

    Are we not interested in that which moves us,makes us sick to the gut, makes us cry, ill, is against all decency, makes us happy, laugh, love and so on.,no matter what the origin is.

    We become interested when we need to know, are inquisitive, no matter if heard from a friend, or seen in the media.

    No matter what the media do, we can turn off, don’t read, don’t listen. It is in our hands. I am left and am interested in right, otherwise i cannot prove to myself that i am right for me. i left right for left, and everyone was interested, at my place of work. i still do not know why. See what i mean?.

    The German Politicians in Berlin are going to give themselves another 6% raise in pay, the year started with 9%. That is interesting when pensioners have had years of nothing, and the last increase did not even cover the costs of the higher prices for the use of toilettes, and pensioners go a lot-well most of them.

    The above is interesting for those that have nothing, and to those that are jealous cause they would like a bit of the cake. More interesting is the political juggle, civil servants had an increase obtained through the work of their union. The politicians give the reason for their second raise as follows. We have to come up to the Civil Servants, nice aint it, they can now blame the union for their increase.

    And so on.
    Greetings all
    John in Germany.

    In reality i am interested in you all, why? because you are interesting. and Ros.

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