Many have asked why there has been so much more attention to the Charlie Hebdo attacks compared to Nigeria’s Baga Massacre. Here are my thoughts:
I’ve been to Paris multiple times. I’ve studied French. I’ve read French cartoons. I’ve read authors, publications, stories. I’ve explored France through the generations via countless movies and books. I’ve gone on road-trips in France. My favorite economist is French. I’ve been influenced by French thinkers. Free speech is important to me. I can pronounce “Charlie.” I have friends named Charlie.
I haven’t been to Nigeria. I don’t know much about it. I’ve never read a book or seen a movie that takes place in Nigeria. I’m not sure how to pronounce “Boko Haram’s Baga”. The only way Nigeria has ever entered by life is when princes email me to tell me how many millions they have for me or via a 30 second news spots about corruption.
The Charlie narrative is one I can quickly relate to, understand and visualize (it has cartoons after all!). I know little about Nigeria and have no connection to it so the narrative is not as compelling.
I’m sure I’m not the only English news consumer who has this relationship with these two tragedies. It isn’t a judgement about the relative value of human life, but about what feels “closer to home” and is more surprising.
News organization report more about the news their audience is interested in hearing about. It is also natural that news organizations report more about events that are a threat to their profession.
After seeing the nth “Why is no one paying attention to Nigeria article” and hearing an African perspective from Bitcoin friend located in Kenya, I spent some time reading more about the Baga tragedy. It is a story that needs deserves telling about a part of the world that those of us in the English speaking world don’t know enough about. So please, go read about it!