On the weekend I was privileged to hear Donna Mulhearn speak on Iraq, among other things. I’d heard some of the things she mentioned in her talk, although hearing a first-person account always has a big impact, as opposed to hearing about something third-hand via the net. However, Ang, who was there as well, was really quite taken aback – what Donna had to say was not the kind of thing you heard in the news.
We were both quite moved by the experience. It really made me question whether or not I was actually doing enough, whether my choices for action were sufficient, what more I could realistically do (with other life challenges in the mix). We can only do so much, of course, and I have to find that balance. But it is challenging in the face of such a plain description of the situation in Iraq to not overcommit.
There were two points in the discussion where the role of the media came up. One participant said “this isn’t something that we’re being told about” – in reference to the mainstream media. I felt compelled to point out that these stories were being told, but through the internet instead. Donna concurred and went on to discuss how the situation in Iraq is largely “old news” in the eyes of the media.
The second reference was when another participant was seriously questioning why the ABC and SBS weren’t covering the story more closely. I have lots of thoughts on why, but no time to explore them today. Suffice to say I was saddened by the lack of comprehension in the audience as to how problematic reliance on mainstream media is.
One suggestion that was made for peaceful, non-violent action: shift focus from protesting the government and shine the spotlight on our media agencies that are ignoring some core parts of the story in favour of more sensationalist angles. The suggestion was to protest outside a major news agency to ask for Donna’s story to be told. I’m not sure it would work, but it’s certainly an interesting take.