Media Coverage: Friend or Foe?

International news media tend to focus on stories of violence, oppression, or oppression. This negative representation is especially visible for African nations, including Côte d’Ivoire. However, I’ve always wondered whether this is merely a trend occurring in American media, or if other countries also emphasize these issues. Why are positive news stories rarely in the media?

In order to examine this further, I conducted a search in three newspapers from around the world for articles within the past 6 months relating to Côte d’Ivoire. I chose the New York Times (USA), The Guardian (United Kingdom), and Le Monde (France). Here are the top headlines I found:

Headlines found online for three different newspapers when searching stories about "Côte d’Ivoire." The headlines under Le Monde were originally in French and translated to English by me.

Headlines found online for three different newspapers when searching stories about “Côte d’Ivoire.” The headlines under Le Monde were originally in French and translated to English by me.

Because Côte d’Ivoire was once a French colony and has maintained a relatively close connection to France, it didn’t surprise me that Le Monde would feature stories concerning the ICC and Ivorian politicians. However, it was refreshing to see more positive pieces listed in The Guardian, such as on the country’s barbershops, reconstruction efforts, and development of infrastructure. Although these headlines may not draw as much attention as those about war and suffering, it gives me a sense of relief to witness Côte d’Ivoire still trying to recover from its failing state status. In addition, those stories are encouraging and hopeful for the people who consider Côte d’Ivoire their home.

When I tried to search in top newspapers from China, India, and Spain, that cover world events, I found virtually nothing relating to Côte d’Ivoire’s political turmoil, ethnic divide, or economic crisis. Instead, the topics centered on the country’s soccer team and their participation in the World Cup, or contained no articles at all. At first, I found this fact discouraging. How could such large and powerful countries not report on the awful events in Côte d’Ivoire? Do they not realize how important it is for the world to know about these issues in order to put pressure and end the violence?

And then I read an article about media coverage and how it misrepresents the causes of conflict in Côte d’Ivoire. In one part, the author referenced an interesting quote by Bono, the lead singer for U2 and committed activist, from the NY Times where he emphasized the World Cup’s positive impact on Africa.

“… A few years ago, Ivory Coast was splitting apart and in the midst of civil war when its national team qualified for the 2006 jamboree. The response was so ecstatic that the war was largely put on hold as something more important than deathly combat took place, i.e. a soccer match. The team became a symbol of how the different tribes could — and did — get on after the tournament was over.”

Although this can be viewed as somewhat controversial and thoughtless, I give him credit because I believe the news should not always cover the “bad” stuff. People truly need the “good” in order to look forward for a better future, and it seems Côte d’Ivoire is in the right direction.