Thursday, January 05, 2006

Hands up if you knew about this story

Be honest. Were you aware that over 200 people had died under mudslides in Java in the last 48 hours? Well, being the kind of weirdos that read blogs like mine you probably were. But can someone please explain to me the contrast - outside the US where it is after all a local story - between the coverage of the Java tragedy and the Virginia mine disaster which everyone's heard about?

Are 12 American miners really that much more important to non-Americans than 200 Indonesians? Why?

Sorry. Like this sodding cough I picked up in Morocco, just another irritant I had to get off my chest.


DaveT said...

It's because they don't speak English. And they're probably mostly Muslim and Hindu. We can't relate to them. Plus the miner story promises to go on as the mining company gets sued. There's also the religious angle (where everyone was praying for the miners, the company reported that most were saved and then it turned out that only one was). I didn't follow the story so I don't know what order all of that happened in.

Do you know whether or not it's being reported in other European countries?

Harry Stottle said...

The fact that you know all those details without even following the story illustrates the point.

Very difficult to judge how its being reported in other countries. If you type CIJERUK (where the tragedy occurred) into the Google News page for the different countries you'll find plenty of entries. But you'll find no less that 688 for the UK. Yet, as you know, the story has been almost invisible despite that apparent widespread coverage. Yeah, everybody covered it - on page 15. Yeah the BBC covered it - on their web site. I'm an avid Radio 4 listener and I've yet to hear it mentioned on there.

DaveT said...

I think your original thought is mostly correct. They just don't seem as important. But why?

CraĆ­g said...

They don't supply gas, oil or coal.

I read blogs and I still didn't stumble on this story. sad


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theCurse said...

Do the Javans (Javians? Javites?) care about the twelve miners in Virginia?

It's just your average Nationalism. I don't particularly care about either, but most people develop a network of connection. Any one person has a limited amount of "room" within their spheres of influence. Some reach their state, others their country. A few feel compassion for people all over the world and spend all their time "helping others." Most, though, have only the time and energy to spend worrying about their immediate family and/or circle of friends. Some care mostly about themselves.

Why is this all true?

Biologically, because one organism's survival depends indirectly on others. The impact of a mining accident in Virginia has more weight to those in America, speaking English. The people in Java are just not of consequence.

Beyond the "why" of biologics I can't help you. I don't personally believe there is any more "why."

Harry Stottle said...

I'd go for "Javanese" if I had to put money on it. Or, of course, Indonesians (which is what they are).

Its perfectly understandable that the Virginia story took precedence in America. But why the rest of the world? I don't disagree with any of the views expressed so far. The Indonesians just aren't important to the rest of the world (for the reasons already given).

All I suppose I can say is that perhaps we should regard this as a measure of the psychological health of global society. When we get to the stage that an Indonesian tragedy attracts the same level of attention as a European or American one, the world will have become a much healthier place.