After reading about the anniversary protests in Turkey at the moment, I wondered that this has been featured so strongly in German media. Sure, Germany has a higher interest in Turkey than in most other countries but it reminded me again how one-sided and hysteria-driven the media can be and mostly is. Because at least since the Arab Spring and Occupy in 2011, protest movements have become as strong as they haven’t been since the 60s. Especially since they happen all around the world and cannot be centered on one idea but reflect the general unhappiness of people with our society. So I wondered if those protests in Turkey are really the only ones worth reporting about right now. Well, they’re not. So I googled “protests” in GoogleNews and here’s what I found on one day.
- Brazil protests! You’ve heard of those, I guess, since for at least over a year now, people in Brazil are not so happy that the World Cup has come to their country. Those protests are very huge and have been covered widely even in our media. The reason is of course the Soccer World Cup which is a huge event, especially in Germany. I wonder how much people realize what that means for many people over there and if they even care about those protests. I’m not a soccer fan but I’ll watch some games out of nostalgia (the 1990 World Cup left an impression on the 10-year-old me), but I settled for myself that I will mention the protests whenever someone asks me if I’ve seen a game. I seriously considered boycotting it altogether and I think people should consider the issues at stake instead of just focusing on scores. (just watch this video to get an idea... go ahead, it's John Oliver, so it's funny and clever)
- Thailand protests! What, again? you may ask since that has been going on for years now, too. The latest protests happen because there was a military coup in May and people protest for more democracy. Reporting on this suffers from the ‘I don’t want to hear anything about Thailand anymore, it’s boring now’-problem that we learned to accept by getting used to the way the media treats problems. It’s only relevant when something new or drastic happens, but the long-term consequences are to be ignored.
- Hong Kong protests! There are elections in Hong Kong soon and people plan an Occupy Central to protest for allowing everyone to be able to vote in the elections instead of a committee of 1,200. Beijing seems to oppose this protest vehemently. It’s nice to hear for me that Occupy still has a meaning and is not, as many like to claim, dead. It’s dead insofar as the media does not write about such movements anymore but that doesn’t mean they’re not happening.
- Singapore protests! About 2,000 people protest against the state’s pension systems. Apparently protests aren’t very common in Singapore, so I find it even more amazing that people start protesting because of their pensions.
- Nigeria protests! Nigeria again? Well, actually, no. Nigeria has been in the news in the last couple of weeks (although it has already disappeared again). The big thing was the group of girls who had been kidnapped by the terrorist group Boko Haram. If you know anything about Nigeria, you know that they have been terrorizing Nigeria for years now and if you followed the news about that case, you could see the amazing ignorance the media has displayed up to now. They couldn’t have made their disinterest in actual stories clearer than that. Anyway, the article is about protests because an emir has been chosen. Interestingly, the article has tags and one of them reads ‘Boko Haram’ although the article has nothing to do with Boko Haram. This is very telling as it shows the general journalistic understanding of foreign problems. ("Nigeria? Must be Boko Haram!")
- Spain protests! Spanish people protest to abolish their monarchy. Which so sounds like it is happening 200 years ago, so it’s about time.
- Central African Republic protests! People protest against the government which was imposed by the French. Which also totally sounds like it is happening 100 or maybe 50 years ago, when African states rebelled against their colonial masters. But it would be naïve to think that the influence of Western and Eastern powers over Africa has ended.
- Breasts protest?! You have to read that article! It claims to be about women fighting for their rights to post on the Internet and wear what they want, but the article constantly makes jokes about breasts and uses every opportunity to show Rihanna’s and Bruce Willis’ daughter’s breasts. It sounds like the author did not focus entirely on the political statements (although the author is a woman!) And if you look at the source you understand why. The New York Post posts other articles on the same website about stories like: “I had a sexual relationship with a dolphin.” or “Mystery sea monster eats 9-foot great white shark.” So, it’s not to be taken entirely serious. But it came up under ‘protests’!
There you go. Six (let’s ignore semi-nude Rihanna) different protests throughout the world in addition to the protests in Turkey. That’s a lot of protests for just one day. Now think of how much would come up in a week, a month, a year. And how much of this do you find on the average German or American news website? Maybe Brazil and Turkey but that’s it. Of course you can argue that anyone’s perspective is limited to the things that matter most to you but if you follow the news regularly and know some background information, you realize that the journalistic ignorance is strong and globally occuring protest movements are not as irrelevant as one might think.
PS: http://www.globalresearch.ca is an excellent alternative news website. Some of it may seem like conspiracy theories but it’s mostly well researched and based on facts. Some things are just hard to believe.