Coalition for Darfur asks if it’s possible for us to pay attention to more than one Africa tragedy story at a time, and blames the American “agenda-setting” media for it:

The agenda-setting media in the United States have pretty much stopped reporting on the situation in western Sudan, deciding that the food emergency in Niger is the Africa catastrophe du jour. (You don't expect them to devote significant time and resources to more than one big Africa story at a time, do you?)

I think the blame is misplaced here. While it’s true that the “agenda-setting media” (if he means outlets like Newsweek, CNN, or ABC) suffers from its own variety of compassion fatigue, or news fatigue, it’s more likely that these places are trying to anticipate what their audiences will be interested in, and justify their inability to focus for a prolonged moment on even one crisis, much less two, on their audiences’ need for variety.

As this map shows, American media pays a pitifully small amount of attention to these crises, period. So saying that Niger has become the “Africa catastrophe du jour” is a bit of an overstatement, but it would be nice if they could expand the Africa quota or whatever and mention — gasp! — two African countries in one newscast or newspaper.

Meanwhile, the ridiculousness that is the Rolling Stones continues to get attention. What is it with peoples’ continuing fascination with them? Like most people, I like pre-embalming, I mean pre-1980 Rolling Stones, but most everything since then has sucked.

Disclosure: My first CD was that un-classic album, Steel Wheels, a sorrowful collection of bad, bad songs that only hinted at the band’s past glory.

Anyway, the band has completed its transformation into a group of wrinkled, capitalistic pseudo-plutocrats, and we congratulate their ability to dance on stage without walkers. “But the drugs they did…!” goes the story. Yes, it’s true. They did a lot of drugs, and yet are still alive to make music. Isn’t this the story that went around two years ago, when everybody was “amazed” that they could tour again? And now we all pretend that that never happened, and their ability to dance is amazing. Is this really news or does the “agenda-setting media” just think people will be interested?

I’m looking forward to Mick, Keith, Ronnie, and Charlie coming around in 2050, when their enbalmed bodies will be trucked around from ballpark to ballpark as people express false surprise at how well their bodies have held up. We may be into World War Four by then, but this story will be so much more interesting.

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