Savage Ethnic Violence: Same Story Different Media Outlet
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?