Media does Americans a disservice by ignoring crisis in Aleppo
© Getty Images

For a snapshot of everything wrong with media today, Dec. 13, 2016 provides more than enough evidence across the board.

The story that led on most broadcast news outlets involved a celebrity who met with the president-elect at Trump Tower in New York.

ADVERTISEMENT

But the genocide of civilians in Syria, described by the United Nations as "a complete meltdown of humanity" and as "hell on Earth," ranked far below the developments at Trump Tower.

As a producer or editor, what should you -- as a journalist first and a businessperson second -- choose to devote more time and resources to?

Before providing some detail to the answer behind that rhetorical question, let's go through how Tuesday unfolded from a personal and marco media perspective.

The time was 12:00 pm Eastern.  I was at the BBC's New York bureau for a guest spot and was taken into a small room called a flash studio. Standard stuff: Sound board, camera, monitor, stool, and a large poster (of sorts) of the New York skyline behind me.

A producer clips my microphone on and places an earpiece into my ear. "Hello Joe. This is London. We're going to have you on a bit later than expected. We have some breaking news out of Aleppo that we need to cover. Sorry and thanks for your patience."

Delays aren't uncommon in live television when doing guest spots. I was slated for 12:10p ET to talk Rex Tillerson, President-elect Trump's unorthodox choice for Secretary of State and media reaction to it. The genocide happening in Aleppo was obviously the lead (more on the "obviously" point in a moment), and if the BBC needed 10 more minutes or even 40, there would be no argument from me.

For the next 20 minutes, I listened to the broadcast while going over my notes on Tillerson. But the reports made my throat drop into my stomach: A seven-year-old boy had been Tweeting throughout the horrific conflict. His father had been gravely hurt.

"My Dad is injured. I am crying."

If you have young children like I do, you marvel at the innocence of their world. No kid should be subject to this kind of slaughter in the 21st century.

The reports from the BBC just kept coming: Dozens of children -- separated from their families -- were trapped in a building with fierce fighting going on around them. The city had run out of food. Dead bodies were everywhere, mostly civilian. Several outlets reportef that 20 women committed suicide just to avoid being raped. The Syrian army backed by Iraqi militants were gunning down whole families in their apartments and in the streets, with the death toll reaching 82 from those acts alone. Many buildings have yet to be searched.

"Three minutes to you, Joe," the London producer said.

I'm not necessarily an emotional person, at least not outwardly, but I was floored. And this comes from a person who has worked in this business in different capacities for 20 years. You think you've seen it all. You think you're immune. And then you hear about the nightmare that is one day in Aleppo on Dec. 13.

Upon leaving the studio after talking Tillerson, I checked Twitter to see what I had missed over the past 30 minutes.

Kanye with Trump.

Rick Perry with Trump.

Tillerson's ties to Russia.

Kanye possibly running in 2024.

Kanye backlash for meeting with Trump.

Russia brainwashed people into voting for Trump.

"Rogue One" Star Wars reviews.

If ranking where the events out of Aleppo ranked in the mind of American media, you'd have to place it somewhere around 50th.

And while cable news was all about Trump and his meetings and appointments, Aleppo got maybe a passing mention. It was certainly not the 20 minute lead the BBC rightly gave it, more like 20 seconds.

But the broadcast networks would get it right, right?

Think again: Mark Knoller.

"Aleppo doesn't rate," is the common theme I keep hearing. "Nobody here cares about it. People will change the channel."

That may be true. And that's a travesty, both from a journalistic and societal perspective.

The mindset is somewhat sick: Because it's happening "over there" (See: Not in a Western country), all the murder and atrocities against men, women and even children is baked into the cake and therefore accepted as normal. It's just the way it is over there.

I don't profess to know how to ultimately solve the crisis in Syria. Almost no one does. That's not the point of this column.

Instead, it's a plea that, maybe for once, American media tries to provide at least 25 percent of the 20-minute coverage that the BBC gave the mass murder of civilians in Aleppo.

The more focus on the problem, the more awareness and perhaps more of a push from the world community as a whole to band together and help these people, even if that doesn't mean from a military perspective.

As we approach Christmas, please consider donating to the British Red Cross or White Helmets, which might be the best and bravest the world has to offer in helping Syrians in desperate need.

But read up on what's happening in Syria and particularly the atrocities against women and children before doing so. BBC.com or The Hill are good places to start.

And when that's complete, feel free to write the media member or executive of your choice to ask them to consider covering important stories in 2017 a little more as their New Year's resolution.

Trump rates. He gets clicks. Political theater as a whole gets clicks. That's understood.

But maybe there's some room in the infinite space that is online media and in 24/7 cable news to put aside what's most profitable for a few minutes and cover anything else but the drama -- overdone, sensationalized or otherwise -- surrounding the incoming administration.

Concha is a media reporter for The Hill.


The views expressed by contributors are their own and are not the views of The Hill