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Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 15:01 | SYDNEY
Monday 21 Aug 2017 | 15:01 | SYDNEY

Choosing our media diets

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2 November 2011 11:52

Continuing the discussion on media coverage of soldiers' deaths, Greg Jericho compares coverage of Vietnam and Afghanistan:

One difference of course is that there is less news coverage of the war in Afghanistan than that of Vietnam. Vietnam was referred to as the first war brought into people's lounge rooms; Afghanistan if we are honest remains largely ignored. While journalists such as the ABC's excellent Sally Sara cover the conflict, for the most part it is off the news radar. I follow over a thousand people on Twitter - most of them are journalists and current affairs junkies who will argue over the inanities of domestic politics endlessly. As a rule the only time Afghanistan ever comes up in my Twitter stream is when a soldier dies.

I'm not sure there is less coverage of Afghanistan, and here Jericho's reference to Twitter is crucial. I too follow a lot of people on Twitter, and Afghanistan comes up regularly. Why? Because I've self-selected what news I want to receive. Given the explosion in media outlets I can access, I don't need local TV news to cover it for me.

During Vietnam, the public had no option but to receive news as the major TV stations presented it. These stations, in turn, had to try to reflect the nation's identity and values. Hence the view that, when it comes to TV news priorities, dead soldiers ought to trump annoyed passengers. Today, that's not the case. People can choose the news they want, and if Afghanistan is ignored, it is because people don't demand that local news services cover it.

It's a good change too. After all, if you want to know what's going on in Afghanistan, Russia or Venezuela, why would you watch Australian news?

Photo by Flickr user MohTj.

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