Journalism becomes propaganda


Across the world in Pakistan, drone attacks are decimating life left and right, leaving numerous people dead, homeless and/or grievously injured. Curiously, these news stories rarely have airtime running longer than a minute and are often relegated to footnote status in newspapers and on news sites.

On Oct. 29, drone victims from Pakistan visited the U.S. Congress in Washington, D.C., to speak about the collateral damage inflicted by fighting terrorism. Nabila Rehman, 10, her father and her older brother all came to the U.S. to speak on the behalf of their fellow Pakistanis and obtain answers as to why drone strikes were the most effective method to fighting terrorism when they had a very high cost — people’s lives.

Almost shockingly, their experiences and statements fell on deaf ears with only five of 435 representatives even showing up for their hearing. As the story trickled down, almost no news outlets picked up the narrative.

Comparing this experience to that of Malala Yousafzai, who was brutally shot in the head by a Taliban fighter in 2012, shows that the U.S. cares only for the stories that conveniently line up with its current action plan.

After Yousafzai’s attack and subsequent recovery, the U.S. and Western media applauded her and turned her into the face of what the “anti-Taliban” can accomplish. Oddly enough, when Yousafzai asked President Barack Obama to stop drone attacks, she was immediately reduced to cute, little girl status from her initial framing as a brave woman fighting for freedom and justice.

Both Rehman’s and Yosafzai’s stories have similarities but their paths have been almost exactly perpendicular in nature when it comes to their news media portrayal. Rehman’s story, though equally compelling in nature compared to Yousafzai’s, frames the U.S. in a bad light and in that sense is relegated to the back burner to be picked up by independent news sources.

This is unfair in treatment and goes against some of the most basic ethics of journalism, namely to stay unbiased and report all news fairly. Without remaining cognizant of these tenets news outlets easily fall into becoming propaganda machines for the government.