Thursday, July 20, 2006

foreigners in lebanon and media

i referred to this subject in a post script to an earlier post, but i think it deserves a post of its own. if one gets news about lebanon from main western media outlets ranging from wire services to television, one can be forgiven for thinking that most foreigners in lebanon are westerners. when they are not covering the actual attacks and political developments, they focus on evacuations of foreigners from an exclusively western viewpoint.

what will come as a surprise to dependents of such sources is the fact that there are 93,000 sri lankan nationals stranded there, more than any other foreign nationals in fact. most of them single women working as housemaids. i am yet to see a report on their (and other migrant's, from philippines, bangladesh etc.) plight on any one of the major western media outlets.

in the web at least some coverage of their plight has begun to appear during last two days. reuter's alertnet has a story (significantly not from their own sources but taken whole from irin news- a project of united nations office for the coordination of humanitarian affairs), while bbc and even time (rather poorly sourced in this case) have recent (rather general) posts on their websites.

even in the internet that's about it however, other than sri lankan sources and some indian newspapers. when it comes to actual wire stories widely syndicated by newspapers, web news sites, etc., there is no mention of such migrants. this afp story is a good example.

this is as it should be
this bias on the part of western media is perfectly understandable and excusable. they cater to a specific market and they should cover the interests of that market. covering the plight of our people is the duty of our media. (most are in fact doing what they can, given the limited resources)

let us remember that always.

bias in media is common to all. it is up to us to seek out the well sourced and the substantiated, in order to obtain correct information. instead of dismissing or accepting any media outlet just because it is sri lankan or foreign, as some people here are all too easily prone to do.

let us remember that too.
--

ps
government's responsibility to sri lankan migrant workers is of course another post. we will see how the government handles this.

sri lankan embassy in beirut has started a 24 hour hot line service. numbers are
00-961-5468808, 00-961-5920585, 00-961-5924762, 00-961-5453172, 00-961-5920527, 00-961-5920532, 00-961-5451512.

foreign ministry in colombo has also started a hot line service for lebanon inquiries.
2385625, 5362527, 4718972, 4719592, 2437635.

13 comments:

Keshi said...

**covering the plight of our people is the duty of our media.

True, thats how the media is. And Aus is doing alot on behalf of the lebanese Australians over there. Sending ships to get em bakk and it's truly commendable.

Keshi.

Niroshan said...

I don't agree with you totally on the fact that these western media organisations cater only to a western market. I mean CNN does have an asian coverage, BBC does have correspondents from asia and does cover asia exclusively in their news programmes but even in them they have not focused on the plight of the asians stuck in Lebanon. It's very biased reporting as you say but they definitely cannot be excused for that.

Ryan said...

CNN is a corporate tool. MSNBC and NBC News are owned by a company called General Electric that makes parts for atomic bombs. Do you really trust their new$?
Israel is a sponsor of terrorism as much as Hamas and Hezbollah. Hezbollah, Hamas, Israel, and America are all terrorists. They systematically attack the citizens of Israel, Palestine, and America. America sends six billion dollars a year to Israel to buy arms to kill Palestinians. Do you remember what happened during Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans? That money could have saved the city from the flooding. Our government is a robber baron, ought to plunder the planet of its wealth and goodwill.
Long Live Lebanon!

ashanthi said...

keshi can we down tools to check out ryan ,-)

ashanthi said...

s.nut good job with the numbers - no there must be tons of foreigners trying to get out.

I don't think the media is biased - it 's just that in a situation like this it's everyone for themselves.

Komisiripala said...

I agree completely with sittingnut. Why on earth would the western media cater news to an audience that really don't care/can't do much about it anyway? Interesting thing to point out is that when teh Tsunami occured the coverage was unbelievable. For once all networks displayed a lot of consideration and managed to get the whole shebang on the map so that aid could come in.

True enough that SL nationals might be the most numerous foreigners in Lebanon but why do we expect a handout based on that?

How often has our news services (TV)exclusively covered west/middle east etc? Its a 5 minute sound byte at the end of news.

We don't have ships, so buffalo arranged for a plane (thats what I read). Commendable... if it gets off the ground (the plan and the plane!!!)


My sympathies to those who have someone in the region and i wish the best of luck to them.

P.S:

As for Israel attacking like this? I don't know mates. I mean, our boys get killed (in hot zones and civillian zones) and we are told to show restraint. Todate at least two servicemen (1 Army, 1 Police) are with the LTTE and they are demanding 4 prisoners released in order to release the policeman (de ja vu? Same thing Hezbollah is trying) and we are told to negotiate. The kick is, this is within our own country so we won't be 'invading' but we are still told to shut up and sit down. Israel launches attacks that destabilise the entire region affecting everybody in the world and they keep quiet.

sittingnut said...

keshi:
you are right :-)

niroshan:
i understand your point.
if they pretend or have ambitions to be truly global they should cover other markets and their interests too.

ryan:
ppl always act on their selfish interests whether individually or as a group. these interest are for the most part not 'bad'. being corporates intent on making profits is not a bad thing .
we just have to keep that in mind when accessing their actions if they affect us.
-
as for isreal sponsoring terrorism that is another subject. in this case while their actions are disproportionate they are also understandable imo.
-
i am not sure what hurricanes have to do with this . :-).

ashanthi:
I don't think the media is biased - it 's just that in a situation like this it's everyone for themselves.
when everyone is for themselves they are not for others, that is bias . but quite understandable. as i said :-)

komisiripala:
agree wth most of what you say.

2004 tsunami coverage was certainly very good.
on the other hand there is hardly any coverage on latest indonesian tsunami

and yes you are right about double standards on how ppl judge isreal compared with other governments fighting terrorists .

Anonymous said...

FYI - the bbc website has done articles on sri lankans in lebanon...

Keshi said...

:) Ashanthi.

Keshi.

Anonymous said...

We should send the SLA paras into Beirut to get the housemaids out - where's Ratwatte when you need him, eh?

Anonymous said...

When I was coming over from Dubai last year, a whole bunch of housemaids hopped on the connection from Beirut - smelly bitches - I hope the IDF gets every last one of them.

Up the Chinthanaya!!

Sam said...

Aha! Hotline Service! Splendid! Now our ladies have some one to talk to.

Don’t blame BBC for that. It is British Broadcasting Cooperation – not Ceylon Broadcasting Cooperation.
British did they part. They left us Ceylon Broadcasting Cooperation and Colombo Harbor when they left. Now we have no right to blame them.

sittingnut said...

anon at 7/22/2006 11:36 pm :
yes bbc and others has now reported but did you check the dates.

anon 7/25/2006 9:30 pm & 7/25/2006 9:33 pm (same person):
you are free to think as you wish.

sam :
i did not blame the bbc. i said their bias was quite understandable. we just have to recognize they have a bias.
on the other hand media here, if they did not report on this (they did for the most part imo) are inexcusable.