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Savage Ethnic Violence: Same Story Different Media Outlet

March 9, 2010

By Jessica Nabongo (MSc Development Studies)

So last night while perusing my RSS feed, I stumbled across an NY Times headline that read “Ethnic Violence in Nigeria Death Toll 500”. After reading the headline, I read the snippet right below that said “The victims were Christians killed by Muslims…”. When I went into the article, the second sentence referred to the “savage ethnic violence.”

My first thought was since when is “ethnic” and “religious” synonymous? Well, besides when we are talking about Jews. Needless to say I immediately sent the link to Andrew to express my annoyance at the constant labeling of violence in Africa as “ethnic”, even when that is obviously not the case.

While I didn’t have time to write a post last night, I decided to do it today and when I revisited the article I noticed a few changes. First, the headline was changed to “Toll From Religious and Ethnic Violence in Nigeria Rises to 500.” And the word “savage” was changed to “vicious”. Now I am not sure what caused Adam Nossiter (the author) to update his article, but I am hesitant to applaud him when his first instinct was to refer to the conflict as ethnic violence being carried out savagely. So do we applaud NY Times or whomever was responsible for the change or still hold our media accountable for maintaining an image in the heads of its readers of Africans as the ethnically divided, savage others?

Thoughts?

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Andrew W permalink*
    March 9, 2010 2:17 pm

    Maybe Adam Nossiter was bombarded with so many e-mails from “savage” Africans he was concerned he’d be next on the receiving end!

    Or, as you say, he realised his mistake and changed it at the first opportunity.

    I reckon it’s probably the latter.

    Either way, changes like that can only be positive so a large proverbial hat tip to Mr. Nossiter.

  2. Malte permalink
    March 9, 2010 5:18 pm

    It’s interesting what the Vatican had to say:

    “The Rev. Federico Lombardi, a Vatican spokesman, condemned the violence and said Monday that the conflict must be interpreted in the light of social, economic, ethnic and cultural factors rather than religious hatred.”
    (http://www.nzherald.co.nz/world/news/article.cfm?c_id=2&objectid=10630854)

    So basically everything but religion. What?!?

    • jnabongo permalink
      March 11, 2010 2:04 pm

      WOW! Somehow I am not surprised by their comments.

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