Sinai troubles and how our world works

Extremists on the Sinai peninsula have finally attained global attention through quite really brazen violent acts. For many, this seemed to come out of nowhere, while for others it's a consequence of the revolution in Cairo.

Well, neither is correct as far as I know, and the case rather reveals how our world works.

Years ago, when a German permanent Near/Mid East correspondent finally got some attention during the Egyptian revolution (early 2011), he took the opportunity to vent his frustration. He had observed the increasing radicalisation of people on the Sinai peninsula (not all of them, of course) and had suffered repeated rejections from the German newsrooms and program planners for every one of his reports about it. He was really concerned. Obviously, he wasn't the only one.

The issue slowly crawled into the news later in 2011 when general interest in Arab internal affair had already risen and early acts of violence made it easier for newsroom people to publish about the issue.

example link of summer 2011 (German):

Attention is a limited (albeit renewable) resource. We can waste it on a seemingly unlimited supply of nonsense stories - and the consequence is that we'll be surprised when shit hits the fan. 
It's even worse: The shit might hit the fan BECAUSE too few people paid attention.
This is part of why I'm very much frustrated with what the mainstream of security policy / military -interested people wasted attention on for the past 12 years. First bogus scaremongering, then wasteful stupid wars of choice, lots of exaggerations about errorists.

Aside from that, the Sinai story could also remind us about how newsrooms work, that they filter news in favour of short-term sensational stuff and in favour of what's called "elite countries" (Bulgaria or Malaysia politics would never get the same attention in German mass media as do U.S. or France politics!).
They also tend to have a huge herd instinct: Classic mass media institutions employ a similar or identical lens and narrative as their competitors, at most with some partisan political leanings. The difference isn't as great as the theatre suggests, though.

OK, for once I chose a blog post title of the kind that I dislike so much on other sites (*cough* FM */cough*). I cannot explain how the whole world works grand the topic isn't that grand either. Still, it's a peek into how our world works. In my opinion that's the much more interesting bit than the news from Sinai themselves. A single bus accident can be worse than said violence, and I don't really care about distant bus accidents. There are seven billion people, and my attention is a limited resource, too.

S Ortmann

1 comment:

  1. 'Attention is a limited (albeit renewable) resource. We can waste it on a seemingly unlimited supply of nonsense stories - and the consequence is that we'll be surprised when shit hits the fan.'

    Haha. Its funny - I said almost the exact same thing in my latest post. People do tend to get distracted with mere nuisances.

    You should check out what I have to say there, sven: It might not be your usual schtick (as it concerns a hypothetical conflict between humanity and a superintelligent aggressor), but who knows, maybe you'd walk away from it with an insight or two. My engineer friend has also posted his long overdue armor paper there.

    Oh, and tim, if your reading this, I'd recommend it to you, too. We both seem to have a flair for the exotic: