The snapshot above shows mainstream news coverage of the famines currently ravaging the people of Somalia and the Horn of Africa. The data, taken from Google, contrast the media attention paid to recent incidents such as the Norway shooting, the phone hacking scandal in the U.K., and the Congressional battle to raise the debt ceiling.
Some 500,000 Somali children are reported to be on the verge of starvation, due to the most severe drought conditions in the region in two decades. Today The New York Times ran a graphic photo of a starving child on its front cover, with executive editor Bill Keller telling Salon, ”I know many readers found the picture disturbing. That’s good. The deaths of thousands of Somali children ought to disturb us, at least.”
With the debt fight over, will a shift in the media’s attention be enough to help the millions of vulnerable Somali’s and their neighbors avoid a starvation tragedy? Judging by the response so far, the outlook is grim.