“What a crazy week,” said Bob. “With the shooting in the US and now floods in the UK and to top it off Kim Kardashian calls her kid Saint, who knows what the world is coming too!”
“What about Chennai?” I replied.
“I did see something on that in the news. Not front page stuff but sounds like a bit of a downpour”.
This, unfortunately, is a dire reflection on Western press and their selective coverage of world events. The flooding in Chennai is a major catastrophe. Over 400 dead, 1.8 million displaced. The area is now threatened with outbreak of waterborne disease. Commercially many companies who have their base in Chennai are in disaster recovery mode. Electricity has been cut. Overseas clients, who were initially patient, are likely to be asking what the business recovery response is. Many of these same firms no doubt have more pressing issues, such as locating all their staff.
Many of my clients are based throughout India, hence I was aware of events as they unfolded. Moreover, as I was working in Bangalore over that weekend, I was on a flight from Singapore that was fully booked and I got to meet and talk to people desperate to get home to help. Once in my hotel however I was surprised that even the coverage by Indian press was not as extensive as one might think should be the case. Now back from my work in India I feel compelled to write about the selective press coverage I experienced.
LinkedIn is not Facebook and perhaps readers see it vital that there is a business imperative to this message. Commercially we are all dependent on each other, and unlike whether Beckham likes soccer or rugby, world events affect us. This is clearly however not what is important. If people cannot see the travesty in this event not being extensively covered, than no amount of framing toward self-interest will change this. One of the benefits of social media is the ability of the press to be side stepped and messages to reach a wider audience through informal channels.
I’m fortunate to work globally. This gives me first-hand experience of how truly interconnected we all are. We are one people on a shared rock floating in space, all with varied perspectives as to why we are here. Until we grasp the obviousness of this we will continue to focus on our few differences rather than our far more extensive similarities. The press have a vital role in decreasing any divides in the world and do so by showing responsibility in what they report, given space limitations. The press need to cover events to garnish support wherever it is most needed in the world. The responsibility of both publications and editors is to take the high ground and touch as many people as possible with the messages that need to be heard. If the coverage of the disaster in Chennai is anything to go by, the press has a long way to go in understanding this responsibility and getting their priorities in the right order.
For those that wish who are still not aware of how horrific events in Chennai are please visit: http://www.thehindu.com/specials/in-depth/the-chennai-floods-and-the-aftermath/article7916048.ece
For those who wish to make a donation please visit: https://www.globalgiving.org/projects/chennai-floods/