October 16, 2002
4:29 AM   Subscribe

Further proof? US press ignores Australia's pain. Are Americans, or just their media types, a bunch of arrogant, insensitive, self-centered boneheads?
posted by islander (51 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason:

Bullshit! Search 'Bali bombing' on Google News and you will find scores of American news sites running the story.
posted by mischief at 4:37 AM on October 16, 2002

I don't think this criticism is accurate. If you're judging the American press by its online coverage, as this Australian paper does, the attack in Bali has received an enormous amount of virtual ink here. It started a little slow, because the attack occurred on the weekend, but by Monday morning it was one of the top stories.

NBC Nightly News has made it a second top story behind the sniper attacks several times. The only thing I would question is the choice of "Two Americans killed in Bali" as a top story on both ABCNews.Com and CNN for a day.
posted by rcade at 4:39 AM on October 16, 2002

or are australians and their media types just a bunch of self-pitying narcissists?

stupid premise for a post.
posted by quonsar at 4:39 AM on October 16, 2002

You might also want to say "via Fark" when you link to a news story through them.

Double faux pas.
posted by yhbc at 4:41 AM on October 16, 2002

How much media coverage do they want? Between the D.C. area sniper and Bali, this is all I've been seeing on the national news. Even local news has been talking about it.
posted by mkelley at 4:41 AM on October 16, 2002

Looks like a bit of the ol' sour grapes to me.
posted by PenDevil at 4:48 AM on October 16, 2002

And lo, the irony any proposed argument automatically constructs itself pretty much as expected...
posted by digiboy at 4:52 AM on October 16, 2002

(Ack. Shove a missing "of" in there somewhere.)
posted by digiboy at 4:53 AM on October 16, 2002

I think you're all missing the point - which is not that the attacks haven't received any coverage but that the Australian angle hasn't been given any attention. I can't argue otherwise because I haven't been reading the US press. Perhaps someone else can put me straight.

or are australians and their media types just a bunch of self-pitying narcissists?

Very sensitive. Australians made up the majority of those killed and the bombers would have been aware that that would be the outcome, therefore the Australian angle in this bombing is as important as the US angle in the 9/11 attacks. The injured were flown out to Australia. This is something that happened in their part of their world, is intricately linked to their regional politics and will have a major impact on Australia's future foreign policy. To not give it proper weight is bad reporting. In fact it suggests narcissism on behalf of the US press - they can't see anything outside their own borders.

Having said that, it's natural that the British press should pay attention to Australia - we still have a lot of cultural links. I wonder how other European nations reported the bombing.

Here's Clive James in the Guardian today, talking about how the bombing may have affected Australians.
posted by Summer at 4:57 AM on October 16, 2002

Again, search Google News for '+Bali australia australians' and you will still discover scores of American news sites. You will have to dig because the eastern hemisphere has had an entire workday to report on this.
posted by mischief at 5:07 AM on October 16, 2002

I get swedish and danish telly.
Both reported the 2 or 3 natives that may or may not have been in the blast. Snippets of Bush and Blair comments were on all news-programs. Swedish news spent some time talking about the swedish crew sent to help, danish news spoke to a pro about identifying bodies in such a state. All newspapers and Tv reported about the australians , the fact the the injured are going there and how Bali is the major weekend getaway for australians. I was only suprised that nobody interviewed the australian ambassador or got a snippet of any australian politician regarding the matter.
posted by dabitch at 5:08 AM on October 16, 2002

(ps, i meant native to .se or .dk - the usual patriotic twist on a major disastser)
posted by dabitch at 5:08 AM on October 16, 2002

I've had a quick look at the NY Times, the LA Times and the Washington Post. Although all three mention Australia at some point there's not really much about this being a particularly Australian tragedy - in fact nothing compared to how the British press presented it. But as I said, Britain and Australia are very close. However, you'd think the 'Australians now going through what the US went through' angle would provoke some interest.
posted by Summer at 5:32 AM on October 16, 2002

Let me get this straight. An Australian newspaper decides to do a story about how the Bali bombing is reported in U.S. media. So the Australian newspaper gets a reporter in Australia to do the story. The unbylined reporter (maybe he or she was ashamed of the shoddy hatchet job) goes to two newspaper web sites (the Washington Post and Miami Herald) concludes that "in the US, Australia is hardly rating a mention." The anonymous reporter mentions "one report" in the Post, which leads me to wonder if the reporter read the other reports in the Post. There was more than one story.

Next time, maybe The Age will report on the United States with a reporter in the United States. Maybe the reporter will use a byline. Maybe the reporter will read several newspapers and turn on a few TV stations. If The Age had followed these practices, which would be considered standard journalistic practices in the United States, it would have reported that the Bali bombings were front-page and top-of-the-newscast news, and that the Australia angle had been fully reported.

Instead, Australians are being lied to.
posted by Holden at 5:38 AM on October 16, 2002

Just to add - the Bali story is still very much headline news over here, even though we're 12-odd hours ahead, but not so much in the US.
posted by Summer at 5:38 AM on October 16, 2002

Are Americans, or just their media types, a bunch of arrogant, insensitive, self-centered boneheads?
Are those my only two options? I abstain.
posted by Fabulon7 at 5:39 AM on October 16, 2002

This blast might sway australians to support a war on Iraq.

How convenient.
posted by spazzm at 5:40 AM on October 16, 2002

Also, the sentence, "Most of the dead are foreigners" referred to the fact that most of the dead were not Balinese, not to the fact that most of the dead were not Americans. Again, a lie: A willful distorting of fact. The anonymous reporter should remember that the bombing happened in Indonesia, not in Australia.
posted by Holden at 5:41 AM on October 16, 2002

[Apologies in advance for being trumped by some of the later comments.]

islander, in an ideal world people would not take a question like "Are Americans a bunch of boneheads?" personally, but I suspect you're about to find out that MeFi is (a) not an ideal world and (b) predominantly American in membership.

However, ill-advised phrasing apart, you have raised an issue worth discussing; but not necessarily the one of your own devising. The question is not "are Americans relatively uninformed about Australia and many other foreign countries?" but "why do Australians freak out every time Americans treat them as foreigners?"

I mean, come on. Everywhere outside the borders of the US is the great unknown to a great many Americans. Australia does not have some unique status of being ignored by the American media: we share that status with just about every one of its allies. Including Canada, and they're a lot closer to America, in every respect.

The Age takes the British reportage of the Australian angle as if it should be the rule, but it's the exception. The British care more about Australia than Americans do: a lot of them emigrate there, have relatives there, we play cricket with each other, the colonial relationship between us is much more recent, and so on.

And besides, the US papers aren't the only ones putting the numbers of its own dead on the front pages. So have the British papers ("30 BRITONS DEAD"). And so is the Australian press: where's the online headline at The Age about the numbers of Indonesian dead and wounded? Where are the Balinese faces on this page? Newspapers report for their own readership first and foremost, even when they have a presence on the Web.

So some American journalist feels he has to clarify the geographical relationship between Australia and Indonesia for his or her readers who don't see maps of the region on the news every night? So most Americans don't know the name of our prime minister? So what? Which is further east, Iowa or Idaho? Who's the governor of California?

I can understand the feelings of hurt and even the tendency, in a moment of pain, to see slights where none are intended. But this reminds me of the all-too frequent reports on the local news when I was growing up, moaning about how Tasmania had been "left off the map" yet again by some graphic designer somewhere.
posted by rory at 5:44 AM on October 16, 2002

I wonder how much US press coverage Bali would have got pre 9/11. I know that acts of terrorism against the British public barely received a mention.
posted by nico at 5:44 AM on October 16, 2002

The injured were flown out to Australia.
According to a report I read, only Australian and European casualties were flown to Australia. Indonesian victims were left to be cared for in overburdened, under-equipped hospitals. It's a pity that Bali is so far from the United States. We Americans would have taken care of all the victims.
posted by Holden at 5:45 AM on October 16, 2002

It's also worth reading the letters to the editor in The Australian. There are scores of letters from people in the U.S. expressing sympathy.

Also see Australian blogger Tim Blair's page, which talks about the hundreds of emails he's received from American well-wishers.

Finally, I agree with those who note that this has received a lot of press coverage. If the Australian "angle" was downplayed, it's only because the attack happened in Indonesia.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:02 AM on October 16, 2002

As someone who has been following this whole episode almost too closely due to having lots of ties to the island (friends & business) I've found the general coverage pretty much in line with the relationships between various countries as mentioned by previous posters.

The interesting thing for me is how this has been generally described as 'Australia's 9/11' and an 'Australian tragedy' when in fact it is a tragedy for both Indonesia (the biggst terror attack in the Republic's history) and Australia (the biggest loss of Australian lives in an attack). Indonesia & it's people seem to have less importance in this story so I could quite easily throw the Aussie press's accusations back at them.

The families & friends of the Australian (and other non-RI) victims will always have to suffer the loss of their loved ones but the rest of the people & media involved will move on.

However, this attack will leave a far deeper wound in Bali & Indonesia as a whole. General economic confidence in the area which has been shakey since the currency crashes in the late 90s will hit rock bottom and tourism, the third-largest industry which brings in some USD13Bn a year & most of it from Bali, could be shot to pieces. The knock-on effects could be devastating.
posted by i_cola at 6:09 AM on October 16, 2002

as for the Australian angle not being played out, a focus on Australian's killed was a part of NPR yesterday, and has beena spotlight on the coverage. but it's just not Australians who have been killed, Brits and Japanese were also injured or killed and I don't remember anything about them specifically.
posted by mkelley at 6:09 AM on October 16, 2002

It's horrific that not only is a terrorist bombing in Bali another opportunity for Aussies to bash Americans and call them "boneheads", but also an opportunity to remind those like islander that Bali is not Australia. Australians actually *were* foreigners in Bali, as much as some would like to believe it a territory.

Which does not diminish the evil of the terrorist act. Much to Indonesia's discredit, the government has done little to curb such attacks, despite repeated warnings from Australia and the United States.

Civilization is together in this resistance to Islamist fundamentalist terrorism, let's not split hairs and call each other "arrogant". There are more important things to do.
posted by hama7 at 6:12 AM on October 16, 2002

Troll article.

Troll post.
posted by lampshade at 6:20 AM on October 16, 2002

Weellllll, I would say that, while the supporting evidence is lacking, the conclusion is sound. We Americans (and I'm speaking here in broad generalizations, which is wrong, so wrong) are a bunch of arrogant, insensitive, self-centered boneheads.
posted by mikrophon at 6:21 AM on October 16, 2002

posted by Dick Paris at 6:26 AM on October 16, 2002

According to a report I read, only Australian and European casualties were flown to Australia. Indonesian victims were left to be cared for in overburdened, under-equipped hospitals.

I turned up two small articles on the ABC news site regarding whether any Balinese victims were also flown to Australia. The first article makes mention of two Indonesians who were flown to Darwin Hospital to get burns treatment. The second makes mention of the growing sentiment in Australia that Balinese victims should be flown to Australia to receive medical treatment.

The first article describes only two locals who were flown to Australia for medical attention, and even then only because they needed to receive specialist burns treatment. I am sure there should be dozens more Indonesians who would also be requiring adequate medical treatment; I guess I could ask why they're not being flown into Australia. I can't answer that question.

The news site claims that all injured foreign people were flown out of Bali to be treated in either Australia or their own country. The latest numbers I could find list 77 injured people (from various nations) being treated in Australian hospitals, and 27 injured Indonesians still in hospital in Bali.

But Holden, to counteract your statement, there are some Indonesians who are in Australian hospitals, not "left in over-burdened, under-equipped hospitals" in Bali.
posted by chronic sublime at 6:28 AM on October 16, 2002

That being said......(referring to my troll call)

I just finished listening to a lengthy segment on NPR about the bombing. Maybe whoever wrote this just checked a couple of news sources, but this event is not lost on the minds of people here. I do not own a TV, nor do I buy newspapers (because I find them equally offensive), so maybe I am not seeing the lack of coverage of this, but I know what I need to know - a lot of people perished at the hands of terrorists. And that makes me sad.

Are Americans, or just their media types, a bunch of arrogant, insensitive, self-centered boneheads?

Yes, the media types are bone heads, which is why I ignore most of them. And yes, there are alot of Americans who are the exact same way. However, do not brand us all this manner.
posted by lampshade at 6:33 AM on October 16, 2002

I was really surprised to see this post...not only had I heard about the Bali bombing quite a bit from a couple different American news sources, but both of them mentioned the fact that most of the casualties were Australian. Both NPR, a local small-town newspaper and my university paper carried the story, although NPR of course went into more detail about the Australian factor and what it might have meant.

Then again, I never get my news from the 'main' news outlets (i.e. the networks and major news sites) so I have no idea how many of them also mentioned, or didn't mention, that particular spin on the story.
posted by cyrusdogstar at 6:33 AM on October 16, 2002

Well, Australians are not American, so they are foreigners.

Basically this person is indignant that we aren't making it clear that Australian lives are more important then, say, Indonesian lives? Whatever.
posted by delmoi at 6:43 AM on October 16, 2002

Was I imagining it, or did the front page of The Mirror (UK) on Monday say 'Bin Laden targets Britons'?
posted by BobsterLobster at 6:46 AM on October 16, 2002

I second the comment about NPR -- I believe there was radio time given yesterday and the day before to the Australian casualties, comments from Australian ministers, and from a few Australian citizens.

I agree this is a troll: it's sad that the first thing that has to come here is an accusation of apathy on the part of America and its media. But maybe there's a hint of truth, too... maybe we can work a little bit harder at empathy for deaths that don't touch our home.
posted by namespan at 6:46 AM on October 16, 2002

I categorically deny any involvement in both the linked article and the FPP. Can't we boneheads just get along?
posted by bonehead at 7:11 AM on October 16, 2002

...and I thought we Canadians had hangups about how Americans perceive us. Sheesh.

Today's front page in Halifax, NS, includes stories on the local winter parking ban, the DC area sniper's latest victim, and an update on a Canadian missing and presumed killed in the Bali bombing. Australia received a great deal of coverage in the early aftermath of the attack, mostly about it being a popular destination for rugby teams this time of year. No word on American casualties, but that's what we'd expect. Report on the event from a global perspective, then look for the local angle. That's journalism 101. A thousand killed halfway around the world is not as "news-worthy" as a dozen killed next door.

But why should people even *care* what sort of coverage a news story (and in this case, a particular angle to a story) gets in another country? Did the Australian media report on how Halifax coped with 100 diverted airliners on 9/11? Probably not. Do I care, or feel insulted? Hardly.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 7:29 AM on October 16, 2002

Thanks for the corrective, chronic sublime.
posted by Holden at 7:42 AM on October 16, 2002

Are Americans, or just their media types, a bunch of arrogant, insensitive, self-centered boneheads?

Is there any point to saying this other than to insult people in the US? Is there a more intelligence way to make a point about the US? Does that fact that most non-US media so is extremely bias that of the time they make US look down-right objective? Is this the arrogance of non-Americans? Do people outside America have anything else to do other sit around bitch about the US? Do people outside the US understand that Americans think differently than their media and its leaders? And...Why do people outside the US throw stones when they are often in glass houses?

This a stupid thread trying to nothing more than piss people off. If you want to have a serious talk about US media v. world media you should tone down the racist and bias tone of this threat.
posted by Bag Man at 7:52 AM on October 16, 2002

The press in Taiwan have been reporting that the Australian-owned Sari bar operated a 'whites-only' policy that was the cause of considerable resentment among local people. These has been put forward as the main reason why it was chosen to be targetted and for the lack of locals amongst those killed or injured. This aspect doesn't seem to have received any coverage in the American, Australian or British press from what I can see. (And which obviously isn't to excuse this attack.)
posted by kerplunk at 8:00 AM on October 16, 2002

I agree with islander. Having learned of the bombing here (metafilter is fast becoming my fastest outlet for news) I jumped to the TV to check the 11 o'clock news - thinking this would be the lead. I was wrong. This unprecedented atrocity was buried deep in the newscast, with no on-site reporting, merely the reading of the report from the wire.

We've always been a self-absorbed country.
posted by pejamo at 8:31 AM on October 16, 2002

I wonder how much coverage this tragedy would elicit in Australia, the US and the West in general, if all the victims were Indonesian. What if I tell you that 2000 muslim Indians were slaughtered in cold blood a few months ago, and it barely made the news?
posted by talos at 8:48 AM on October 16, 2002

a bunch of arrogant, insensitive, self-centered boneheads?

I do not disagree entirely with Islander. I just think that this post, citing this poorly researched article, amount to a total troll. Please, if he/shewant to just make an insult, then do it, but don't try to hide it in a poorly constructed thread. Just step up to the plate and say, "I hate you".

There are plenty of other flame boards that this post is more suited to.
posted by lampshade at 8:53 AM on October 16, 2002

I jumped to the TV to check the 11 o'clock news

Your local news? Gee, how surprising.
posted by mischief at 9:06 AM on October 16, 2002

kerplunk: Interesting angle, which I don't remember seeing elsewhere. Thanks for doing something to redeem an otherwise space-wasting thread.

FLASH: News media in country X tend to focus on citizens of X involved in incident elsewhere!
posted by languagehat at 9:32 AM on October 16, 2002

I think that a very important point is being missed here, this is how America is being perceived by the rest of the world. Maybe Americans are not xenophobic or egocentric, but they seem to currently be in a minority with that belief. Just what has America learnt from 9/11?
Bush can't appoint America as the world-police and then continue to believe that the world stops at the ocean... can he?
posted by DrDoberman at 9:45 AM on October 16, 2002

Maybe Americans are not xenophobic or egocentric, but they seem to currently be in a minority with that belief

Then that's the fault of those around the world, not Americans. Perhaps people should do some research or meet some real life Americans before forming stereotypes.

Bush can't appoint America as the world-police and then continue to believe that the world stops at the ocean... can he?

In that case hate Bush (as I do) or fault the people that voted for him/Nadar (as I do), or hate the people who support the Bush policies you disagree with (as I do), but don't hate us all. This may shock you, but we all don't all think alike and are not always in lockstep with our leaders.
posted by Bag Man at 10:37 AM on October 16, 2002

This may shock you, but we all don't all think alike and are not always in lockstep with our leaders.

Good point well made Bag Man, but like it or not, Bush speaks to the world on your behalf... just like Blair speaks to the world for me. We are tarred with their brushes :-/
posted by DrDoberman at 11:36 AM on October 16, 2002

Bush speaks to the world on your behalf

Point well taken, but Bush is the head of only 1/3 of my government. I think that people around the world should also look to leaders in the House of Reps./Senate and the Supreme Court justices to find out the "official" US government stance.

My point being is that I hope people think a bit before making the types of statements that islander made.
posted by Bag Man at 12:11 PM on October 16, 2002

Whoever thinks America has the market cornered on being xenophobic or arrogant or self-centered really needs to do some traveling. Those people who are ordinarily so opposed to cruel stereotypes seem to have no problem dumping them on the US.
posted by Karl at 12:18 PM on October 16, 2002

Here's a wonderful piece by Germaine Greer about Australian soul-searching, from today's Daily Telegraph, to go with Summer's great Clive James link from The Guardian.

[Quite the double-act we are, eh Summer?]
posted by MiguelCardoso at 12:57 PM on October 16, 2002

Only too happy to be second-linked by you, Miguel.
posted by Summer at 1:02 PM on October 16, 2002

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