Media Bias and the Reporting of Russia and Ukraine

Photo of a world cloud that discussed all the factors that surround Media Bias. Tuesday, April 26th 2022. As displayed here and discussed in the article, “Journalists” and “Country” greatly influence Media Bias (© Robwilson39/Dreamstime).

Photo of a world cloud that discussed all the factors that surround Media Bias. Tuesday, April 26th 2022. As displayed here and discussed in the article, “Journalists” and “Country” greatly influence Media Bias (© Robwilson39/Dreamstime).

About a month ago, I wrote an article about the war in Ukraine. As I researched I came across some terrible quotes said by people in high positions and I would like to bring what I learned to light.

There have been countless examples of reporters and government officials having racist undertones and biased views when it came to delivering the news about the crisis in Europe.

The reporters’ rhetoric reinforced the idea that the suffering in other war-ridden countries is inexorable and preordained. In the process of rallying sympathy, they belittled and vilified other groups of people. 

 CBS reporter Charlie D’Agata was in shock and described how he found the war in Europe unusual. 

“You know, this is a relatively civilized, relatively European – I have to choose those words carefully, too – a city where you wouldn’t expect that or hope that it’s going to happen,” D’ Agata said.

This comment angered many people as he implied that people of other continents are barbaric so war would seem typical in those areas. Furthermore, by saying he hopes it would not happen in Europe, it makes me believe that when such tragedies happen elsewhere he cares about them less.

The statement that shocked me the most was from Georgian Politician David Sakvarelidze.

“It’s very emotional for me because I see European people with blue eyes and blonde hair being killed, ” Sakvarelidze revealed to BBC.

He was so blatant and comfortable with what he believed; he said that it was hard for him to watch because the people were white like him. Sakvarelidze’s words caught me off guard and left me speechless. 

The fact that the Ukrainian people are experiencing such cataclysm and destruction has made everyone emotional. However, bringing race and European features into the context was unneeded; these should not be factors in describing why the death of people is heartbreaking. 

Junior, Abood Tuffaha was frustrated and disappointed when he heard this news. 

“They [Westerners] see their own people getting killed so it is affecting them personally, but when they see people in Jamaica, Ethiopia, or the Middle East, they do not care because it is not people like them,” Abood stated.

 “It is not people who look like them, or eat the same food as them or speak the same language as them,” Abood said. “They do not care until it’s their own people.”

 His last statement left me with chills.

I believe that the disconnect Abood mentioned explains part of the reason why some violent occurrences are reported less frequently. This can be seen with the attack on the Al Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, which affected Muslims in the Middle East and got little news coverage.

The Al Aqsa Mosque raid happened on April 15th, 2022. As Muslims participated in Friday Prayer, they were ambushed, which left around 150 Muslims injured. What added to this devastation was the fact that the act was carried out during the Muslim’s holiest month, the month of Ramadan*. 

When my friend Zain Joudeh heard about the attack, she told me that she was exasperated and exhausted. She also talked about how no one was talking about the ambush.

During the interviews,  Zain reminisced about the summer of 2021 when people seemed to care about her country’s people.

“I felt like we were finally getting that attention that we needed and then it stopped like a few weeks later,” Zain concluded. “I’m sure that they still got a lot of help, like donations and aid, but that was only for a short period of time. A lot of people’s sympathy for Palestine was just a trend.”

I understood what Zain said as protests for Palestine disappeared after a few months as if nothing ever happened. In my opinion, one reason why awareness campaigns died out is that people have a savior complex paired with a contrasting “out of sight out of mind” mentality; they want to help everyone they can but then in the end they are not directly affected by the issues so they lose interest. 

After my interview with Zain, I wondered if the fight to help Ukraine would dissipate after a while or would the armor of Ukraine being a white, Christian majority country continue the support for this disenfranchised group. 

Overall, my journey into this news made three things clear; there is bias in Western media, the idea that non-Europeans are belligerent is deeply rooted within people and the news only reports on issues, that do not directly concern them, for a little while. 

I hope that in the future journalists are more respectful when reporting the news and that instead of replacing news, they add on to the news.

I urge you Longhorns to take into account the biases discussed, stay informed, and be better than these reporters who make disdainful comments. Moreover, be aware of a range of issues and do not forget about a conflict when another arises; add to your list of wanting to help people don’t discard other groups.

* Ramadan is a holy month for Muslims where they show their gratitude and respect through self-restraint in order to get closer to their God, Allah.