In Congo, 1,000 die per day: Why isn't it a media story? [hat tip Jordan Cooper]
It's a maxim that what people aren't talking about is always a favorite topic of conversation. But it will make your head spin when applied to the media and the most deadly conflict in the world today. Western media generally do not cover the ongoing war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, but a media story is currently developing around the Congo - focusing, paradoxically, on how the conflict is not a media story.
I've lost count of how many journalists in the recent weeks have asked me, "Why aren't the media covering the Congo?"
With an estimated 1,000 people dying there every day as a result of hunger and disease caused by war, it is an appropriate question. But the extent of this coverage of noncoverage is reaching the absurd: print, radio, TV, Internet - they all want to know why they themselves are not writing articles and broadcasting programs about the Congo.
And it is not just me noticing this. In March, Reuters even held a seminar on "forgotten crises," at which the Congo topped the list, and on BBC World Service the other day, I heard a newscaster ask: "Shouldn't this be getting more attention?"
Indeed. What the world media are missing is one of the deadliest conflicts since World War II: 3.8 million people have died in the Congo since 1998, dwarfing not only the biggest of natural catastrophes, such as December's South Asia tsunami, but also other manmade horrors, such as Darfur.
I am the first one to admit that I don't much about Congo...but I need to learn, and I will.
1,000 people per day die.
3.8 million dead since 1998.
And no one cares. But we all know that Tom Cruise is in love with Katie Holmes. And we all know that Michael Jackson was acquitted on all counts. But one cares about 3.8 million dead people in Africa. Just like no one cared about the almost one million dead in Rwanda. And just like no one cares about the 300,000+ dead in Darfur.
No one cares.