Editorial: Media plays an important role in mass atrocities

This past weekend, Carleton University hosted a conference called “Media and Mass Atrocities: the Rwanda Genocide and Beyond,” which sought to discuss how reporting on mass atrocities like the Rwandan genocide could bring about change.

Extensive coverage of the genocide inspired the public to demand action from their governments to intervene.

The event served as a reminder about the role media plays in covering such heinous crimes against humanity.

Paul Watson, a journalist who covered the genocide, spoke about how reporting can garner the public’s attention to atrocities happening in other parts of the world.

For example, the image of  Syrian toddler, Alan Kurdi, washed up on a Turkish beach made everyone’s head turn towards the Syrian civil war and refugee crisis after the image was widely shared by news media in 2015.

Reporting on violence and mass atrocities calls the world to action, whether that be advocacy, or a call on their government to get involved.    

The 24-hour news cycle allows otherwise horrific and tragic events to go unnoticed once the initial shock has worn off. This has been the case with many ongoing instances of violence in the world today, such as the civil war in Yemen.

The world still needs journalists willing to make great sacrifices to keep the public informed on situations that would otherwise go unnoticed.