Revolutions in the Middle East over the last several months have become an almost expected event. Dictators who have held powers for years, even decades in some cases, are being overthrown. Protesters are rising up and demanding more political freedom in all corners of the Arab World in a movement that has become known as the Arab Spring. The latest country to join into these protests has been Syria. However, the Syrian uprisings have received far less coverage than prior revolutions.
The background to the Syrian uprising is quite similar to other uprisings in the area. Protests began in January 2011. The protests called for the resignation of President Bashar al-Assad, and the end to almost fifty years of Ba’ath Party rule. Since then, violence has erupted across the country as President al-Assad refuses to give up power. Clashes between rebel soldiers and the army have become commonplace. Due to restrictions being placed on foreign journalists, an accurate account of how many people have died or been wounded are hard to come by. Estimates place the amount of dead and wounded anywhere from 10,000 to 100,000.
And yet, how much news coverage has there been about Syria? The media of our country has dedicated very little time to discussing the events happening world. This does a great disservice to the people of both the world and this nation. We speak of wanting to support democracy throughout the entire world, and yet choose not to educate ourselves on the events that are happening.
We live in a world that is become ever more interconnected. If we wish to keep our position as the most powerful nation on Earth, then we have a duty to keep ourselves informed about the events of the world. We cannot afford to be ignorant of the rest of the world’s happenings.
This is particularly relevant this year. In just a few short months we will either be re-electing our current President, or electing a new one. One of the most important duties of our President is to conduct foreign affairs. How can we, as a nation, make an informed decision about the foreign policies of our leaders, if we do not know the circumstances of the world?
This is not to say that the blame lies with the people of this nation. Instead, that blame lies with the media. Yes, Syria has banned foreign reporters from entering the country. However, that should not prevent news organizations from doing what they can to report as much as possible. Some journalists have been allowed into the country, and what they are reporting should be made more widely known.
Those reporters who have entered into Syria do deserve our respect. They are risking their lives to report what is happening. Some of them are even sacrificing their lives.
The media in our country has a responsibility to the nation, and they are failing to do so. The events in Syria should be, if not headline stories, at least be mentioned with a much higher frequency. Instead, however, our media gives into sensationalism, and spends more time covering the death of Whitney Houston than the deaths of thousands upon thousands of innocent human beings.