Which tragedy represents you? Or which tragedy does the media make you represent?

Journalism is -or should be- a daily practice of intelligence and character, according to journalist Claudio Abramo. Hence, nowadays, if it wasn’t for this kind of natural selection between the different media, in which the elite is always at the top and in front of any shred of truth (like an apex predator), we could have a more fair and less chaotic game of interests.

The biggest environmental disaster in Brazil’s history occurred in the city of Mariana on the 5th of November, caused by the irresponsibility of the mining company Vale do Rio Doce, and it didn’t even receive the same level of attention as the bloody day of the bombings in Paris on the 13th of November.

Tragedies and bad news should not have this sort of variation on the amount of attention they get from the media or even less when only some have specific reserved spaces in the traditional media, to be instantly devoured by the spectators, while others barely get mentioned at all. Because of this sometimes people get obsessed with the images and news of ‘the others’ while not really paying attention to what happens locally.

There certainly isn’t a way to compare and fairly measure different tragedies against one another, especially when their location, causes and social consequences are widely different. Still there is no explanation or justification when certain things happen, like the total silence of traditional media in Brazil, once the bombings in Paris happened, about the tragic environmental disaster that occurred in Mariana. How could this be? Did they forget? How do you forget a local tragedy where hundreds of people, fauna, and flora were devastated by the tons of toxic mud that suddenly flooded the area due to the irresponsible practices of a famous mining company? How can the tragic events in Paris justify this media silence?

Two horrible tragedies, that’s a fact, but what can be concluded when looking at the behaviour of both traditional media and its spectators when these two tragedies occurred? Did both incidents get the level of attention they fairly deserved? Was it clear for the public who the culprits where? What can be concluded about how information is consumed and absorbed from looking at how people changed their profile picture on facebook to support Paris or Mariana?

I’m left with just my indignation, and I prefer to leave these questions open for the readers to reflect and think about how media information and symbols are absorbed, to quote BAITELLO JR., Norval (2005, p. 54):

Like this, at the same time, images come from other images, they originate from devouring other images. That would be the first level of Iconography. The images that populate our visual media are mostly constituted by echos, repetitions, and reproductions of other images, which starts with the consumption of images from the large pool of images around us.

I’ll finish with a final question: Are we echoing what really represents us?