Using the Internet to Examine Patterns of Foreign Coverage

Zuckerman, Ethan
September 2004
Nieman Reports;Fall2004, Vol. 58 Issue 3, p51
This article highlights the insufficient media coverage of the ethnic violence in the Ituri region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) as of 2004. The first week of April 2003, several hundred people were killed in ethnic violence. Given the magnitude of the event--up to a thousand civilians killed in a single incident--and the history of violence in the region, it made sense to expect media coverage. Shortly before the killings, the International Rescue Committee published a study suggesting that 3.3 million people had died as a result of conflicts in the DRC, making the ongoing violence in the region the deadliest war in the world since World War II. But the events in Ituri went almost unreported. On April 7th, the first day American newspapers reported the killings. The New York Times ran a brief Associated Press story on the conflict, buried on page A6. Google News, a Web site that monitors 4,500 news sources, listed only 1,200 stories in the preceding month that mentioned Congo. By contrast, on the same day Google News showed 550,000 stories for Iraq, and The New York Times ran five Iraq stories on the front page, as well as a separate section, A Nation at War. While it is predictable that the U.S. invasion of Iraq would squeeze most other news off the front page of American newspapers, it is only one of several reasons the conflict in Ituri received so little attention.


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