Why do 32 deaths in Virginia receive blanket coverage while nearly 200 fatalities in Iraq are barely reported?
Thirty-two die in American university shooting. Result? Huge media coverage in the US and Britain.
In Iraq, almost 200 die about the same time, arguably the worst day of carnage in that beleaguered country since the coalition invasion. Result? Coverage so restrained as to be, in many cases, totally negligible. Why?
General reasons first. The media operate what amounts to a hierarchy of death. Here are the criteria: foreign deaths always rank below domestic deaths. Similarly, on the basis that all news is local, deaths at home provide human interest stories that people want to know about, while the deaths of foreigners are merely statistics.
Now let's get down to some other controversial home truths. The deaths of non-white people in foreign parts - and, I would contend, often at home - are never accorded equal status by the white, western media. The deaths of Arabs and Muslims (and, in many media eyes, there is no difference) are overlooked because they are, variously, anti-western, anti-Christian or anti-capitalist, or all three, and are therefore undeserving of sympathy. In other words, it's racist.
Finally, specific reasons. Iraq is considered to be a basket case.
There's no hope. We cannot understand it. Sunni v Shia (like Catholic v Protestant) is surely too difficult to resolve. There's no point in going into depth about deaths among fanatics and fundamentalists. They are, as I said earlier, just statistics now.
[Excerpt of an article by Roy Greenslade, The Guardian]