Sibusiso Mkwanazi
2 minute read
17 Nov 2015
6:00 am

Do all lives matter?

Sibusiso Mkwanazi

Who gets to decide whose lives are worth a front page and which ones should be relegated to less prominent pages?

A lot of noise has been made about the weekend’s terror attacks in Paris, and all of it is justified. The first camp is made up of those who have changed their Facebook profiles to the French flag and are sympathetic to the lives that were lost. This team tends to agree that no one should be killed, whether they are European, African or even a refugee.

Then there is the other camp who are simply not willing to feel sorry for those who lost their lives. One of the reasons include how biased the media can be when it comes to the way world events are reported. For instance, when the bombers attacked the city of love, all major news networks covered it from all angles.  Regular shows were put on hold, all so that we could hear about the hunt for a black car that was supposedly used by the terrorists.

These people lament the fact that the media – and particularly Western media – use their platforms and influence to push certain agendas. One of these is that the French will now use this tragedy as an excuse to invade Syria, as the media have reported that some of the terrorists were refugees from Syria.

It does not matter which camp you side with, but you have to wonder how and why some stories are strewn across front pages while others barely make it into the bulletin as a space filler. A day before chaos erupted in Paris, people in Beirut were also going about their daily lives when they were also the victims of terrorist bombs. Around 40 civilians were killed. Ask yourself how many TV programs were rescheduled or how many newspapers had this tragedy as a lead?

This then puts topics such as #alllivesmatter into great perspective. Who gets to decide whose lives are worth a front page and which ones should be relegated to less prominent pages?

Having been part of a newspaper’s team that determined what stories go where, I have to play devil’s advocate and say that being an editor is not an easy job at all. No matter what you decide, there will always be a camp that you will not please.

Horrific events happen every day in the world and it is up to us, the consumers of news, to dissect how we interpret it. Do not merely believe all stories you hear of, as some of them might just not be as true as you think it is.