Editorial: Media missing out

Bret Belden

By TNH Editorial Staff

Lately there has been a noticeable gap in the reporting and news world where important events are happening and important people are being ignored.

CNN did a story about the issue, starting the article by stating, “The 43 Mexican students who disappeared in southern Mexico in September were abducted by police on order of a local mayor, and are believed to have been turned over to a gang that killed them and burned their bodies before throwing some remains in a river, the nation’s attorney general said…”

Some might argue, why does the U.S. need to report on something happening in Mexico?

It’s Mexico, not the U.S.

Your question would be a good one — if it weren’t for the constant reporting we do in other countries. Ever heard of Ebola in Africa, the 2010 Haiti earthquake or the attacks in Syria? Those were some of the top news stories in 2014.

Yet we still missed the stories that truly strike closer to home, at least geophysically. Mexico is at our border. And how many people have heard that 43 students went missing? How many heard that bodies were found in a mass grave? There’s been more coverage on Jennifer Lawrence and Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting cutting their hair short.

James Foley, American journalist from Rochester, went to Syria as a reporter. He was abducted during the Syrian Civil War. He was passionate about what he was doing, and he was a war correspondent. Foley certainly had some idea of what he was getting himself into. The country naturally mourned his death as American media exploded with sentiments and features about the journalist.

But what did we miss when we were knee-deep in news about Foley and Syria and ISIS? On Aug. 19, Foley was beheaded. In late September, a man beheaded a woman, Colleen Hufford. The second beheading took place roughly one month after Foley’s own. According to The New York Times, police said the suspect had been recently trying to convert his co-workers to the Muslim religion. With a beheading and the word “Muslim” that so many Americans seem to fear, all red flags would go up signaling this to be a huge story.

And it all happened in the center of our country: Oklahoma.

Perhaps the reason is more dimensional than we’d like to understand, even as we feel slighted that news is unbalanced. On the Foreign Affairs website published by the Council on Foreign Relations, it says, “Foreign news coverage is a smaller and more manageable area for examination than domestic news coverage. Thus most individual newspapers, magazines, radio stations and television stations do not have foreign correspondents of their own.”

The news from foreign relations has the chance to travel far and wide. Why it didn’t reach from Mexico to the U.S. and explode like all the information we are inundated — there could be any number of reasons.

Catherine Shoichet of CNN wrote in an article on Nov. 11 that, “The case of the 43 missing students from a rural teachers’ college in Mexico’s Guerrero state quickly grabbed the national spotlight as word spread about their Sep. 26 disappearance.”

Yet, how many people on the UNH campus have had their attention directed to it? Where is the concern?

If journalists want to withstand the changing media world, they will have to find a way to spotlight news that touches America just as much as they spread news from over the seas.