Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Week Nineteen: The News, Political Prominence and Freedom

Within twenty minutes of the blast at a French Nuclear plant on Monday there were...five reports on it, according to google news and the search term 'French nuclear blast.' My google is set to receive German news and Chinese as well, along with Canadian, Australian, and British. Surely, with the wide open space of the internet, twenty minutes is enough for something to be tweeted 'a thousandy times' as I would have said as a child.

Thirty-five minutes after the first reports, twitter came up with around forty-five tweets under the terms 'French nuclear', one of which was dated before the earliest news articles (which, by the way, read: No more data yet.) So...Not even fifty times, in English.

Now, recall Japan. Within thirty minutes of that nuclear disaster, there were more than 200 tweets. Even factoring out the world's eye being on Japan at this time, one day have to wonder at the difference. Oh, and for those worried about my safety, as of the time of this writing, I am just fine, as is everyone else where I am. While I do exist currently in a country bordering France, the explosion was, by all accounts, in Southern France. Germany is on the upper border, I believe.

Why were there so few reports at first? It's a combination of facts. First, France, while relatively friendly to the US, doesn't hold nearly as much political prominence, so much news from that country is disregarded. There are over 200 countries in the world, and not all are as important in a global sense as others. While France is up there, it is not as important, as say, Japan, who holds an electronic economic powerhouse, thanks to the number of electronics companies based on that island nation. Ergo, our news stations will always pay more attention to Japan than to France. Besides, Japan news has a wider audience, thanks to children who have grown up watching shows from Japan, and who still enjoy that culture now that they are adults.

Secondly, France rushed to suppress the news of the blast. While they couldn't cut it off out right, they are certainly attempting to downplay what has happened immensely. The blast was, as all nuclear accidents are, serious business.

This ties in, disturbingly, to American politics. While America is the nation with the largest freedom of speech in the world, there are certain things the newspapers are heavily encouraged to skim on when it comes to the news. And by encouraged, I mean they were instructed not to report on them, or to give bare minimal reporting. Opinions were preferred to facts.

Keep in mind my belief in the vast majority of news organizations is frankly non-existant, especially American newspapers and news channels whom seem to have adopted a stance of 'Sensationalism is the Best!' However, I do know for a fact that they were asked to not report on the current war. Not report on a ten year long war on the basis that it would 'upset American morale' and in these times of 'economic distress' the government really doesn't want that.

Or rather, the government keenly remembers the age of war protests, and would really rather not have that again. Please do not get me wrong. I support our troops, and believe them to be brave men and women fighting to keep us free, but this war is going to be never ending if we wait for the Middle East to obtain peace. Can you think of a time when the Middle East was last at peace with itself for more than ten years?

Yeah, nor can I. When they aren't warring, they are genociding, and when they aren't doing either one, they are on the verge of a rebellion.

I find it disturbing that we as Americans are more interested in whether Britney Spears is engaged or not, than what our troops are doing on the ground.

Maybe it's just because I'm an idealistic college student who has never seen the 'real world' but I could have sworn that the government had no true say in what the news reported. America is supposed to be one of the best of the best when it comes to freedom of speech, but the government is still sticking their grown too long nose in. While we can certainly post what we choose too, they have the power to simply off the internet. They have for sometime now. And they certainly have to power to censor what websites are viewable in the United States. The real question is, do they use it, or do they not? I suspect I know the answer. And it saddens me greatly.

 One Final Byte: Oh college math, you do confound me so.

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