I really ought to have written something by now about what's going on in Burma; it's next door, after all. But somehow it seems to fall outside the scope of this blog, or maybe it just forces me to consider what the scope of this blog should or shouldn't be. So, instead, a few thoughts on how the media is dealing with the events unfolding in that benighted land.
First, a note about the terminology. The BBC, and most Anglophone media, refers to the country as 'Burma', and its largest city as 'Rangoon', as distinct from the junta-approved 'Myanmar' and 'Yangon'. The implication is that the junta is in the wrong, and Aung San Suu Kyi and the various pro-democracy organisations are in the right. It's a view that probably ties in with the target audiences of these media organisations, but it remains a view, an opinion, a bias. It's exactly the same problem that arises when dealing with Northern Ireland or the Middle East; any term for a particular geographical entity is going to rile somebody, somewhere, and be perceived as an example of bias. The next time some right-wing wonk demands that the Beeb should be impartial in all things, can we agree that 'impartiality' is a myth; the best we can hope for is some kind of consensus.
Then there's the attention being devoted to Kenji Nagai, the Japanese journalist apparently shot by a goon of the Burmese junta. A horrible event, it's true, but why are we concentrating on him, rather than on the other people who've died so far? Because his death was filmed, possibly. Because he was a foreigner, maybe. Because he was a journalist? Hmmm... This is especially significant because of the unprecedented role being played by brave Burmese citizens, without whom most foreign journalists wouldn't be able to do their jobs. (See RLP's Asia Exile for examples.)
That said, I was ghoulish enough to follow the link in The Guardian to footage of Nagai's death. But when I did so, I got the following message:
"This player requires a faster connection to enable smooth playback of video. The connection speed detected will cause a potentially unviewable experience."
I don't know whether those last three words are a more heinous crime against good taste, or against the English language.