Genocide is the ultimate crime against humanity. And a government-backed genocide is unfolding in the Darfur region of the Sudan. As the horror in Darfur continues, our major television news networks are largely missing in action.
During June 2005, CNN, FOXNews, NBC/MSNBC, ABC, and CBS ran 50 times as many stories about Michael Jackson and 12 times as many stories about Tom Cruise as they did about the genocide in Darfur.
Whether it is coverage of the civil rights movement in the 1950s and 60s, the Ethiopian famine in the 1980s, or recent coverage of the tsunami, television news can help stop grave injustices and end human suffering. Increased television coverage of the genocide in Darfur has the power to spur the action required to stop a devastating crime against humanity.
There follows a web form with which you can send a letter to the major networks; a form letter is filled in but you can edit it. The site also includes a good brief background on the issue and plenty of links to more information and more actions you can take.
Here’s my letter:
According to beawitness.org, whose web form I am using to send you this letter, during June 2005 CNN, FOXNews, NBC/MSNBC, ABC, and CBS ran 50 times as many stories about Michael Jackson and 12 times as many stories about Tom Cruise as they did about the genocide in Darfur. The data are available for perusal on the beawitness.org homepage.
You are not asking yourself “what genocide?”, are you? You know what I’m talking about. The minimal coverage we have seen has reached as far as media professionals like you, who have decided NOT TO GIVE THE ISSUE ANY FURTHER COVERAGE.
Why? Why have you done this?
You don’t need me to tell you the power that broadcast media have to influence public opinion and political action, any more than you need me to tell you what’s happening in Darfur. And of all broadcast media, television is unquestionably the most powerful.
Why are you hiding from the responsibility that accompanies such power?
Are you truly more concerned to exercise that power in the pursuit of profit than in defense of innocent lives? Do you honestly believe you have no greater responsibility than to pander to the lowest common denominator?
What the fuck is wrong with you?
Astute readers will note some hypocrisy here: this is the first time I’ve mentioned Darfur. I can say “I can’t write about everything” and “I’m not a major media outlet”, but the fact remains that I do try to use this site to cover important events in human need and in politics, and I feel bad that I haven’t talked about Darfur by now. By way of easing my conscience, I’ll come back in a later post to the other actions that Be A Witness lists.