Sunday, July 27, 2008

Yet another international incident *unrelated* to terrorism

It was all over the news on Friday: a Qantas jumbo jet flying over the South China Sea makes an emergency landing in the Philippines after explosive decompression. Upon landing, a large hole is discovered on the underside of the plane, from the cargo hold. From the Toronto Star's article, here is the fourth paragraph:

"An official at the US Transportation Security Administration, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the incident was not domestic, said initial reports show it was not related to terrorism."

I found this mention jarring. It was an interesting piece of news, but the possibility of terrorism had not entered my mind. Is it foremost on the minds of most Canadians? Media have a responsibility and obligation to give the public information relevant to every story, and to answer our questions. So if most people are indeed thinking of terrorism when they read stories like this, then the mention is appropriate.

Nowadays, however, media are increasingly being accused of trying to shape public opinion by manipulating both what gets reported and how it is fed to the public. It is not a stretch to say that most media are guilty of editorializing throughout papers or tv programs (which is why I no longer make a point of reading/watching the editorial pages/programs).

I write about this now because for me, this is the third time in recent memory that an accident headline has been closely followed by the mention of "no terrorism". This, in itself, can be manipulative - putting terrorism in the minds of ordinary Canadians and making it the first thing we think about in every news incident. If you pay attention to this issue, governments worldwide - including, of course, the Bush and Harper governments - have been pushing this angle to make it easier to sell their citizens on increased military spending and extended occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

For trauma victims, new trauma can indeed renew memories of their past trauma. So in the two recent incidents in NYC, in which construction cranes collapsed, citizens near to the disasters were reported to have feared the worst when they heard a big crash. But for most of us, I don't think this is the case... unless the government and media propaganda is getting through to us.

No comments: