“Media silence has to stop”

Jake Convery is a United Reformed Church Youth Assembly representative to its General Assembly and its Mission Council as well as organist at Congleton URC and director of music at Saint Andrew’s URC, Hampstead. He was part of the ecumenical delegation that visited refugee projects in Sicily and Lampedusa earlier this month.

On his blog Jake reflects on how the news media have reported the recent arrival of thousands of migrants in Italy by sea.

At this point in time, I am an impassioned mix of anger, sadness, and despair.

An article* published in thelocal.it states that more than 8,500 migrants arrived on Italian shores over the course of the Easter weekend. In one case, thirteen bodies in one incident which were found senza vita. Amongst the dead recovered were was an eight-year-old boy and a pregnant woman.

Is this a tragedy?

I personally think it is, but perhaps the media would disagree because the amount of media airtime in both a radio and television context is either minimal or non-existent and the space and presence given to articles like the one from thelocal.it is nowhere near the top of a news page, and unless you went looking for the article, would find it hard to spot!

I’d like to challenge you to find the article* I am talking about looking on the aforementioned website. Then you’ll finally see where I am coming from.

Perhaps the media are taking a Stalinist viewpoint in the old adage from the communist leader himself:

“One death is a tragedy, a million deaths is a statistic.”

This could very easily apply to the migrant crisis that is happening in the Mediterranean at this time. It is easy to report that several hundreds of people have died in a boating accident whilst fleeing the Libyan coast: it’s cold, it’s clinical, it’s factual.

What you don’t hear are the stories of those who have fled. You don’t hear about who they were. You don’t even have the chance of giving them the dignity that they deserve by knowing their names.

Nowadays, the media coverage which is devoted to this continuing crisis – now that we’re past the peak of the interest in the story – is truly miniscule, yet media outlets such as the BBC and CNN can devote minutes of airtime and page after page of article to the Twitter ramblings of the new President of the USA.

How any organisation can put more resources, time and money into reporting a social media faux pas rather than reporting on devastating humanitarian crises is beyond me.

I understand and appreciate that media outlets must make money somehow and draw people in to watch their shows and read their articles but more must be done to raise the public awareness of what is happening in the Mediterranean and beyond right now.

This has to stop. Media silence has to stop.

How can we make people aware that the situation is not over, that it still needs our help? How can we show support to those who are working in the midst of the crisis to try and make the ordeal better for those arriving from foreign countries?

You can read Jake’s full post over on his blog.

* Direct link to the article for those who gave up searching.