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Sunday, 5 February 2012

Tragedy beyond parody in South Sudan

On a purely abstract level, there could almost be something funny about people killing each other at a peace meeting. Like the old joke about being late to deliver a speech at an efficiency conference. But what has happened in South Sudan (http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/mobile/world-africa-16873273) is simply tragic: "At least 37 people have been killed in South Sudan during a shoot-out at a peace meeting aimed at ending recent violence, officials said." I don't know what to say. It's as if nationalist and loyalist terrorists had massacred each other at peace talks in Northern Ireland in the 1990s. Why does this not get the same publicity as there is for the killings in Syria? Why was Egypt's murderous football riot the UK's top news story, when South Sudan is barely reported at all? Is it because our media is so middle-brow that it only highlights events in countries that it thinks audiences have particularly heard of? Like reporting the death of a famous movie star more prominently than the death of a less famous one? Such an approach works logically for reporting on dead film actors - but not so much for covering conflict zones. Could we not perhaps agree that the conflicts in which the most people are dying should be top priority for reportage? Or am I being simplistic?

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