Flooded street in Beledweyne in Somalia.

The severe floods in Beledweyne, Somalia, have affected up to 500 people. Photo: Tobin Jones / AMISOM

Chronicle

The CNN effect leaves Beledweyne to his fate

There are numerous civil wars, revolutions and natural disasters around the world. Many of these events have received media attention. What happens to the disasters that are not noticed? Are those people left to their own fate? It is often said that media reporting is affected by the CNN effect. 

Nicklas Håkansson who researches political communication and journalism at the University of Gothenburg describes for Svt that the CNN effect is forcing politicians to react to media reporting. The CNN effect is a research theory based on the American news channel's influence over political decisions. 

For the second year in a row, the city of Beledweyne in Somalia has been hit by severe flooding. It has affected up to 500 people, of whom 000 are children. Schools have been forced to close, roads have been destroyed and access to clean water and food has declined. The UN reports that more and more people will suffer from malnutrition and disease if no humanitarian efforts are carried out.

The media debate and political agenda revolve primarily around the entry of Turkish troops into northern Syria and the Iraqi civil war. As a result, other disasters do not receive as much media attention. Nicklas Håkansson describes how the CNN effect was important during the Kuwait War and how the media, by showing emotional images, could influence political decisions. We also see this in today's wars and disasters. When many news articles about a certain disaster are published, politicians are forced to have an opinion about the event. Many times it can lead to a political change.

The CNN effect can have positive outcomes, but if the research theory is correct, the lack of news reporting can also lead to fewer humanitarian efforts in certain disasters. The flood in Beledweyne, which has been overlooked by the major media channels, is an example of such a natural disaster. 

All wars, natural disasters and revolutions deserve to be in the spotlight, but some disasters will always be seen more than others. It is therefore important that we, the civilian population, share posts and disseminate information about disasters on social media so that they too can be heard in the public debate. After all, social media is a powerful tool that can contribute to change. It was made visible last summer the protests in Sudan, when millions of people on Instagram changed their profile picture to a blue dot to show solidarity with the protesters.

This is a chronicle. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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