Whose News?

17 February 2008

Chinese Massacre Fails to Rate

The news media have been buzzing about the latest campus killings in the US. Any loss of life is tragic for any number of reasons, but let me ask a question. What ratio of American to Chinese lives lost under similar circumstances would it take to rate a mention in the world’s English language media? The disturbing answer is 1:1.5, at least.

main-article.jpgThe Hong Kong print version of the China Daily ran this column on the front page of its weekend edition. Six victims in one massacre compared to nine in the other: that’s where the 1:1.5 ratio comes from. But credit should go where credit is due – it’s an interesting juxtaposition because no other English daily cared to run the two stories together. Even the English language version of Beijing’s People’s Daily only reported the Hebei killings as a separate event. Few other dailies could be bothered to run the Chinese story at all. On Friday, the Philippine Daily Inquirer and the Times of India both ran the AFP summary of a Xinhua (China’s national news agency) report on their websites. Reuters had already issued a short report on Thursday, as did Bernama, Malaysia’s news agency, again on Friday.

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