By The Duke Staff
From the dawn of journalism, readers and writers alike have speculated the importance of what deserves to be published in a world that has conflicting definitions of the word ‘censorship.’
A prime example of this is the media’s coverage of American journalist James Foley, whose execution by Islamic State of Iraq and Syria members was filmed and uploaded to the internet as a form of terrorism propaganda. News outlets across the globe have debated including the video in articles and have gone as far as to write specifically on the topic. To be fair, we at The Duke were considering adding to the noise until we asked ourselves the following:
If “a picture is a worth a thousand words,” are we as a society picking and choosing which words to read and write? The debate should not be about the video itself, but rather the context of the video in retrospect to the world. Not simply our world.
James Foley wasn’t captured and killed the morning you read about it and saw the picture in Starbucks on your iPhone. He vanished in 2012 and before that he narrowly escaped captivity in 2011. On Tuesday, the Islamic State militant group took hostage an American woman doing research in Syria. Captured, brutally beaten and used to strike fear in the American nation, journalists and soldiers give their lives to report on the issues at hand to deft ears.
In 2013, the Syrian regime initiated a strict crackdown on the activists in Syria demanding more civil liberties. The heat between government and citizens traces back to 1970 when the al-Assad family refused to relinquish its hold on the nation.
The civil war between rebels, government power and now outside countries such as ourselves have reached an estimated 17,000 deaths and more than 170,000 people have fled the Middle East to neighboring counties like Iraq, Jordan and Turkey according to CNN. We see these numbers every day sandwiched between tweets from celebrities Buzzfeed Top 10s (with gifs!).
We see images of the same nameless soldiers against the ever present smoke, flame and artillery, juxtaposed against your friends’ selfies. Whether they support one group or another, civilians are struggling to find access to food, water, electricity and basic medical supplies.
And what do we do? We continue to scroll though this checkered board of content in our lives. We bring it up over dinner parties or see glimpses of it while flipping through channels.
The words are there whether they present themselves through photo, video or the literal. We are bombarded with them every day, desensitizing us to the matters at hand or missing the topic entirely. We must always acknowledge the weight of these words, and roles these journalists choose to write them.