Has George Orwell’s book, ‘1984’ been widely mistaken as a how-to manual rather than the chilling warning to civilisation that was originally meant? I certainly think so.

Perfect example, in today’s news – have a look at these headlines:

‘The Calais jungle demolition…’

‘The clearing of Calais…’

‘Clearing of a sprawling migrant camp…’

Interesting, aren’t they?

Today, I’m awarding the Alternative George Orwell Prize for Taking ‘1984’ As A  Recommendation, to Reuters.

First paragraph coverage states how France had started clearing the camp ‘with hundreds carrying suitcases queuing outside a hangar to be resettled…’.

Hundreds of what, Reuters? Hundreds of monkeys because you’ve used the jungle analogy? Hundreds of statistical tallies?

No, the word you’ve omitted, and that many media outlets also failed to integrate into their coverage is ‘people’. I have to scroll several times before that word finds a way into your reportage, and even then it seems that you’ve only used it because there’s no other suitable descriptor to attach to ‘elderly’. Too bad, should have used ‘elderly’ as a noun, not an adjective. That way, it would have been cheaper to use, less effort, right?

People are at the centre of this ‘clearance’ story. Around 10,000 people who have fled war and poverty. Many of these people have families in the countries which they fled, who are directly affected by their choice to flee – so you can take the human impact of this story and multiply it several times. And now these Fled People are being moved on in their journey, the outcome of which for all is uncertain. Some will fail to gain asylum and face return to the countries that they fled. Others will fall into the system, be processed, be lucky – who knows.

The real news isn’t a logistical operation, but a pivotal moment in these peoples’ lives. Our media has a duty to report and analyse the human condition vis a vis the power structures in this world. Instead, it is balancing numbers against the structures, leaning processes against the walls of power. This is not the fourth estate at work, it is the fourth estate sleeping.

Until our media outlets learn to be human about reporting the human condition, they’ll continue to sound like the baddies in George Orwell’s novel.

© greta von szabo 2016






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