Saturday, November 14, 2015

Beirut and Paris: Two terror attacks with different tales

Mourners at the Auckland, New Zealand, vigil for Paris at the weekend. Photo: David Robie
By Belen Fernandez

AS NEWS arrived of terror attacks in Paris that ultimately left more than 120 people dead, US President Barack Obama characterised the situation as “heartbreaking” and an assault “on all of humanity.”

But his presidential sympathy was conspicuously absent the previous day when terror attacks in Beirut left more than 40 dead. Predictably, Western media and social media were much less vocal about the slaughter in Lebanon.

The Independent's weekend front page, UK.
And while many of us are presumably aware, to some degree, of the discrepancy in value assigned to people's lives on the basis of nationality and other factors, the back-to-back massacres in Beirut and Paris served to illustrate without a doubt the fact that, when it comes down to it, “all of humanity” doesn't necessarily qualify as human.

Of course, there's more to the story than the relative dehumanisation of the Lebanese as compared with their French counterparts. There's also the prevailing notion in the West that — as far as bombs, explosions, and killings go — Lebanon is simply One of Those Places Where Such Things Happen.

The same goes for places like Iraq, to an even greater extent, which is part of the reason we don't see Obama mourning attacks on all of humanity every time he reads the news out of Baghdad.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The digital media revolution, a free press and student journalism

Keynote speaker and former University of the South Pacific Journalism Programme head Professor David Robie with the FALE Storyboard Award winner for best regional reporting, ‘Ana Uili. David and his wife, Del, donated this West Sepik storyboard for the awards. Photo: Lowen Sei/USP
Professor David Robie's speech at the University of the South Pacific 21st Anniversary Journalism Awards on 30 October 2015:

Kia ora tatou and ni sa bula vinaka,

FIRSTLY, I wish to acknowledge the people of Fiji for returning this wonderful country to democracy last year, and also to the University of the South Pacific and Dr Shailendra Singh and his team for inviting me here to speak at this 21st Anniversary Journalism Awards event.

[Acknowledgements to various university and media VIPs]

As I started off these awards here at the University of the South Pacific in 1999 during an incredibly interesting and challenging time, it is a great honour to return for this event marking the 21st anniversary of the founding of the regional Pacific journalism programme.

Thus it is also an honour to be sharing the event with Monsieur Michel Djokovic, the Ambassador of France given how important French aid has been for this programme.

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