At a time when the public's trust is in mass media is at its lowest, the mainstream media is getting so much wrong about other cultures. With the focus on fake news as it applies to the year's election, this issue is extremely overlooked. The problem with that is there's no time more important than now to be more tolerant and educated about other cultures.
Today, the media should be fact-checking their news more than ever, but they're not when it comes to the rest of the world. It's time we fact-check the media.
It's not uncommon to read an article, listen to a news report, or watch a clip that one feels as though the United States is in its own little bubble - a smarter, better, more worthy one. It's the American way to be the best of everything, including nationalism. The issue here is not with nationalism, but with the way it has blinded our way of viewing the world. The media has come to think of the world as how it affects the United States, and not how it functions without it. Simply put, the media have an ignorant view when it comes to other cultures. Here are a two examples out of the many that people noticed this week.
The Indian Butt Hose
Buzzfeed published an article this week where the contributor's eyes were open to the world of the hand-held bidet. Despite knowing the correct name for the tool, he still decided to use the term "Indian Butt Hose" in his title. People were not amused.
The article isn't actually that bad, the reporter promotes the use of a bidet by the end of his brave adventure/the article. However, the attempt at comedy/entertainment at the expense at another culture proves how little we want to educate ourselves on other cultures unless we can get an article out of it.
In reality, the use of the bidet is very common all over the East. It started as part of the Islamic ritual of cleansing oneself and became a part of Sikh, Hindu, and other cultures in the East. It's also called a ""Muslim Shower" or "Shattafa" and is more than just a "butt-hose." It's actually a less expensive, more eco-friendly, and healthier alternative to the toilet paper we know and love.
Didn't think I'd ever have to defend a shattafa, but here we are.
CNN, Ghana, and the CNNGetitRight Hashtag
On Sunday evening, CNN released an article detailing the results of Ghana's election where the incumbent president, John Mahama, conceded defeat to, now President-elect, Nana Akufo-Addo. The article, providing a (false) detailed update of the status of the Ghanian people, was not well-received. In fact, it was dubbed "lazy reporting". Journalist Gary Al-Smith shared a portion of the article and started the hashtag #CNNGetitRight, which was trending within the hour.
Much to the dismay of people who like to think of the world outside the United States as dark and grim, Ghanaians do have access to food and daily services.
An editor's note showed up fairly quickly after the tweet gained momentum, stating, "An earlier version of this article incorrectly described the status of the retail economy in Ghana. Stores are generally well stocked, and food shortages are rare. The earlier version also erroneously said Nana Akufo-Addo ran for president in 1998. Ghana did not have presidential elections in 1998."
Our country is one of the most diverse in the world, and yet, ironically, it is also one of the most ignorant about other cultures. Maybe as a nation, we have some changes to make, but at the end of the day, the responsibility of truth falls onto leading media organizations. Our minds and ideas are shaped by them, whether we like it or not.
So news networks, media giants, and journalists, if you're reading this, even Jennifer Lawrence isn't getting away with this kind of blind ignorance, you can't either. You have employees from all over the world, use them before running something about another culture, whether it be a tool that sits next to a toilet, or the retail economy of an African nation. Cultures and nations besides ours not second-tier, they deserve just as much fact-checking as U.S. politics do.