Thinking Out Loud

October 23, 2017

How Does This Affect Me?

If you’re a news anchor or a late-night stand-up comedian, the 45th President of the US has been an unparalleled blessing. Like the latest episode of The Truman Show, people tune in daily to see the latest installment of ultra-reality television or they tune in later in the day to see it expressed as farcical humor.

I wrote about what last November’s election has done 14 months ago:

There can be no doubt however that the U.S. federal election is also pushing a large number of stories and reports off the news cycle. What business mergers, medical advances, environmental initiatives or social trends are we not hearing about because every significant quotation from Donald or Hillary needs to be included?

On reflection however, my second sentence simply reflected the absence of other American news stories. In the middle of last week however Rachel Held Evans posted this link to a story about the exodus from Myanmar, made more real by the drone footage of those fleeing the country.

to which I felt I had to reply:

It’s true. Only those stories which will affect the U.S. in some way are considered. This reminded me of when I was writing for Contemporary Christian Music magazine a lifetime ago. The purpose of CCM/Canada, my page of the magazine was to expose Canadian Christian artists to the wider subscriber base that CCM had. Or so I thought.

But then I got a directive from the editors: “We want to read about our artists touring in Canada and information on how our artists albums are selling there.” He was dead serious. It was part of larger paradigm shift in how Christian music was marketed and is now marketed and I quit shortly after.

Also, returning to the more serious subject at hand, I think it’s interesting that Rachel got her story from BBC World. My son gave up on North American news media a long time ago and still uses BBC as his primary source. The British network is rather protective of the rest of its broadcast content — they geo-block just about everything — but their news is widely shared and is considered authoritative around the globe.

Americans know so precious little of the world outside their borders, with the exception of the small group able to afford travel. About six months ago I realized that I could name all 50 states, both in terms of placing them on a map or naming them alphabetically, but most Americans can’t name Canada’s much smaller number of provinces; let alone plot any of the world’s hotspots on a map.

Well maybe North Korea. Then again, perhaps not.

The problem is the same as what I said in August: What takes place in the large white building at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in DC simply pushes far too much off the news cycle. Some of the most important things to take place this week — the things Paul Harvey described as having the most lasting impact — will probably not even be mentioned on U.S. network news.

 

 

 

November 1, 2012

Hurricane Sandy: The Unheard Story

Today’s guest post is by Ruth, aka Mrs. W., the better writer in the family.


Hurricane Sandy came ashore.

Dozens dead. More dozens missing. Thousands homeless. Damage and repair costs in the hundreds of millions. Transportation crippled. Livelihoods destroyed or at risk. Infrastructure wiped out. Government in crisis. A population of in the range of 10,000,000 souls thrown into chaos once again, while still in recovery, still living with the ghosts of that earlier devastating hit.

Hurricane Sandy’s ‘hype’ has given way to the reality of trying to clean up the mess and put lives back together.

Oh, sorry. Did you think I meant New York?

Haiti and neighbors such as Cuba and The Dominican have been ploughed under yet again. And yet again they’re stumbling to their feet, shaking the mud out of their hair and looking around, wondering what the heck happened. The images are horrific. The statistics are numbing.

Most American and Canadian news coverage in the last few days has been focused so close to home that we’ve heard little about the three day drenching that has damaged more than 70 percent of Haiti’s food supply and created fears of a cholera epidemic like the one after the great earthquake. The epidemic that killed 7,000 people.

The poor are getting poorer.

New York has suffered a terrible blow. They have lost good and beloved people. Homes. Businesses. Entire neighborhoods. It’s easy to look at the pictures online of a damaged roller coaster and a yacht on the train tracks and forget that our friends to the south are genuinely suffering far more than just inconvenience. They are grieving and wondering how to rebuild.

But, like we in Canada, they are among the wealthiest people in the world. The poorest American is richer than the bulk of the people in other parts of the world. We have resources and forces and systems in place that are effective and well trained. Haitians have no such reservoir to draw from.

It’s time to look further than the six o’clock news and see the need that is born out of need. Lack upon lack. New York will take time to put things together again. Haiti doesn’t have that luxury.

New York needs our prayers and encouragement. Haiti needs our support. Food, medicine, building supplies. Find out how you can help.

~ Ruth Wilkinson

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