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“Will media portray a true picture of the world?”
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“Will media portray a true picture of the world?”

Denise JuvaneThe media plays a powerful role in the way we view each other internationally, writes Denise Juvane, 21, a Commonwealth Correspondent from Mozambique now living in England. But should the media ensure that those perceptions are fair? 

Throughout this academic year, ‘media and international relations’ has been one of, if not my favourite, module.

I’ve always realised that there is a clear correlation between the filters used by the media, the information it reaches to the public, and international relations. However, learning about it theoretically and in great depth has given me a completely new outlook on things.

To put it simply, it seems as though media is also a form of business.  The same way it is used to bombard us with electoral information during the lead up to elections, it is also used to shape the minds of those who are entirely educated through what the media feeds to the public.

Dividing it continentally, one can see that the prevalent topics of discussion in the media when it comes to Africa are issues such as corruption, human rights, poverty and refugee problems. In a nutshell, these issues appear to all lead to the problem of ‘constant crisis’ in the ‘cradle of humanity’. In contrast, as expected, when it comes to highlights in the Western world, we are more heavily bombarded with information regarding strengthening of foreign relations, the goodwill of the West as they intervene Asia and Africa in a bid to spread democracy (which is another issue to be discussed- what is democracy? To whose standards?), rid it of its internal problems, and the constant economic positivity.

Websites such as Al Jazeera and BBC News are great platforms for news updates and a personal favourite. Still, though, when one looks at headlines for Asia and Africa in comparison to the headlines in Europe and Americas (particularly the USA), a blind eye cannot be given. So far this week, headlines in the developing world have featured issues such as the Democratic Republic of Congo’s struggle with removing rebel groups, Mozambique’s ‘child smuggling’ issues at the South African border, and Cambodia’s protests. Such sad news brings forward a questioning approach – are things all negative and grey on that side of the world, or are we used to – and therefore content with – being fed such pitiful news?

Due to the information which is shown on television, printed in newspapers and released online, often it seems as though people from two different parts of the world (developed and developing) cannot be blamed for what they (think) they know. Nevertheless, this cannot be justified in any way, shape or form. To me, it seems unacceptable that the idea some Westerners have of African countries, for example, is that it is basically one big jungle where people might as well have lions as pets. It is also equally unacceptable that some people from developing countries hold the West on such a pedestal as a form of utopia, as if to say there, too, problems aren’t experienced.

It seems that it all boils down to one thing – what the media feeds us. It’s undeniable that the same way some individuals are politically persuaded through media attention, the rest of the world also still has some people who are completely reliant on their information.

So what happens now? Will a true picture ever be portrayed – the good, the bad and the ugly, as well as the excellent and praiseworthy – for all corners of the world? 

photo credit: William Hook via photopin cc

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About me:

I am an International Politics student at the University of Surrey in England, currently carrying out an Erasmus exchange programme in Madrid. I am very much interested in international development, the effect of media in international relations and tackling of poverty and inequality.  As well as writing for the Commonwealth Correspondent, I am also a News Writer for the University of Surrey’s newspaper ‘The Stag’ 

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Opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the Commonwealth Youth Programme. Articles are published in a spirit of dialogue, respect and understanding. If you disagree, why not submit a response?

To learn more about becoming a Commonwealth Correspondent please visit: http://www.yourcommonwealth.org/submit-articles/commonwealthcorrespondents/

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