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Skycaptain

Chile, social unrest, and why it is being ignored

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Skycaptain

This is something that caught my attention recently. The Copa Libertadores final was moved from Santiago Chile to Lima Peru because of the political unrest in Chile. Fair enough, having looked into online media reports, there's double-digit deaths, thousands hospitalised, allegations of human rights abuses by the security forces. But, whilst I don't read a newspaper every day, I do look at the BBC news website daily, amongst others, and I have seen no mention of this anywhere. I have to ask are the mainstream news media being selective in what they say? 

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Muledeer

I was thinking the same thing about the fires in Australia.  If not for my friends on the 50's thread, I wouldn't know they are having problems down there.  No mention of it on the nightly network or cable news shows and no word of it on my internet news feeds as well.  I have heard a little about the unrest in Chile, but not very much.  Who controls what we hear anymore, across multiple media platforms?  Is there a vast conspiracy, or is the local (national)  news too overwhelming to allow concerns from abroad to be mentioned?

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Grimalkin

If I had to wager a guess, I would say it's a combination of a few things. None of them are good, or right, but they still exist. 

 

First, as an average American, I'm ashamed to say I know pretty much nothing about Chile. I'm not awfully familiar with the culture, the people, the history. Now WHY that is, I'm not entirely sure-- probably something to do with racism in society and America in general, or prejudice against Hispanic/Latino populations. But I, and I'm sure countless Americans like me, are more likely to pay attention when it's a country we're more familiar with, and potentially have more "positive" associations with (like China, for instance). Chile seems foreign and distant, China somewhat less so because we've been fed our happy little Mulan narratives about it throughout our childhoods. 

 

Jumping off of that, news sites are more likely to report on things they think their audience will find interesting. And that's usually things that people won't have to do a ton of research on first. Using China again, and Hong Kong specifically, people are already pretty aware of the governmental strife there. When they're presented with a article about the protests in Hong Kong, there's not a lot of new words and names they need to learn about before they can jump in and read the article. More people are likely to click. More ad revenue. 

 

This is why things like Notre Dame burning will generate far more commotion in the western world than another horrible atrocity in the middle east. People here are much more familiar with Notre Dame.

 

The last, and arguably biggest reason, is tied into a YouTube video I coincidentally watched today called You Can't Care About Everything. Anna Akana calls it "compassion fatigue." We're surrounded by negative news all the time-- there's so much that it all starts to blend together. Death and war, bombings, starvation, riots, protests, shootings in cold blood. It inundates our news stream. We can't possibly pay attention to all of it, so sometimes we have to pick something we're more familiar with and follow and support that instead. And on top of that, there's rarely something the average American can do about it. Donate to charity, maybe? Attempt to spread awareness? Vote for people who won't trade or support corrupt governments? Possibly, but it doesn't feel like a lot. Sometimes learning about problems in other countries just makes you feel sad and powerless. 

 

So... yeah. All of the above, and then more, probably. And of course, that doesn't make it right that no one's reporting on it and that people are ignorant about it. Since you've mentioned it, I'll probably go read up on it. What, if anything, I can do to help, is another story. 

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kiaroskuro

I haven't really been able to keep up with the news lately, at least not as much as I would have liked to. But I'd say that thanks to Twitter, I at least get to know about some of the most pressing issues in the world today. But even there, in my leftist filter bubble, very few tweets are related to the current situation in Chile. It made me wonder why.

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-1=e^ipi

To be fair, if we compare Hong Kong or Venezuela with Chile there is one major difference:

Chile is a democracy. You can vote out presidents that you don't like.

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Still

Same reason why the yellow vests aren't in the news anymore: neoliberals don't want you to pay attention to the fact that neoliberalism is a failure, or that protesting is an effective deterrent to the failing neoliberal system.

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natsume

The western media doesn't report news harmful to governments it supports (governments that control them).  Chile is seen as a great success to the West with its pro-capitalism focus and billionaire president. I have heard reports on it on NPR, but corporate news will avoid the story altogether. In fact, most of the owners of corporate news would have investments in Chile and have a financial incentive to bury unrest.  As far as the BBC, the corruption of politicians and wealthy Brits using South America to hide money has also already been exposed with the Panama Papers. The West is very, very happy with Chile's government so don't expect to see much of anything negative run on Chile.

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Lonemathsytoothbrushthief
On 11/26/2019 at 11:53 PM, -1=e^ipi said:

To be fair, if we compare Hong Kong or Venezuela with Chile there is one major difference:

Chile is a democracy. You can vote out presidents that you don't like.

It's a democracy which still has a vivid memory of dictatorship(Pinochet's rule ended in the 90s), that sort of legacy factors into the kind of corruption and events you see. A commonality between what's happened with the right wing in both Chile and Brazil has been increased anti indigenous racism, something which of course has a dark legacy across south american countries as well as the US. There are others, but honestly you shouldn't look at a country which dealt with military dictatorship under which thousands of lives were lost as an ordinary democracy. Even in Austria, with as long as it's been since the nazis, my mum once praised a politician who I researched to find out the media largely understated his role in hitler's youth groups.

Democracies can quickly turn into dictatorships, I think those of us in western countries with less of a history of that need to remember this. Democracy originates as a concept in Greece, and of course it didn't include women back then.  Democracy has long coincided with widespread disenfranchisement, slavery and empires. It's never existed in a pure form. Most immigrants are disenfranchised to some extent upon arrival in the most uncontroversially democratic of countries despite being targeted by political campaigns.

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Lonemathsytoothbrushthief
On 11/29/2019 at 9:29 PM, natsume said:

The western media doesn't report news harmful to governments it supports (governments that control them).  Chile is seen as a great success to the West with its pro-capitalism focus and billionaire president. I have heard reports on it on NPR, but corporate news will avoid the story altogether. In fact, most of the owners of corporate news would have investments in Chile and have a financial incentive to bury unrest.  As far as the BBC, the corruption of politicians and wealthy Brits using South America to hide money has also already been exposed with the Panama Papers. The West is very, very happy with Chile's government so don't expect to see much of anything negative run on Chile.

I find that it's important to look at media sources from right across the globe with a critical but open eye. For example, when al jazeera reports something on uk elections, I think it's hilarious to find brits complain that it's funded by dubai. HOW does that affect their reporting? I mean, I don't particularly want to read the south china morning post because I don't know how to navigate chinese media which may be pro policies of xi jinping against uighur and kazakh chinese people, as well as others, but it's obvious that not all of their news will be as biased. I think my policy towards different media varies from full on boycott to reading with an awareness of their biases around certain issues due to funding/leadership at best. I never count it as unbiased, but of course the capitalist and colonialist stuff in western media has a long history so it does feel like there's no point reading their reporting on china, hong kong, chile, venezuela, iran, sudan...idk.

 

Sorry, I kind of detracted from your point. 😶 Western media is the first thing to learn to be sceptical of, I realised I had to be careful in other areas because of the number of more authoritarian people who'll decide that means anything said by Assad or Jinping or Putin is pure gold not to be disputed just because they say the US is bad. I think it's possibly also that because of search engines, so much of our media is effectively reinterpreted from a right wing western lense too - even if I only read non western sources, if they were ranked as to how much google values them that adds its own bias.

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natsume

Google revolutionized the search engine and then destroyed it. It has a system which is essentially it lists all sponsored results first unless a non-sponsored result is a top 10 website (which are generally sponsors anyway, the notable example is Wikipedia). The only way to get around this sponsorship algorithm is to use Google scholar (google news also uses the algorithm).  

 

There is not a lot of free media in existence anymore, but the dream of the internet making objective information available to everyone turned out ... not so well.

 

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