The Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 disaster has not only sparked conversations about aviation safety, but prompted a furious debate over how Western media outlets covered it. Some observers, such as The Atlantic’s Hannah Giorgis, noted the tragedy was reported unevenly, focusing more “on non-African passengers and organisations.” This despite the fact that nine Ethiopians and 32 Kenyans were killed – the most victims from any nation.
Kenyan writer and political cartoonist Patrick Gathara added that media organisations forget there is no such thing as an “African story”, saying that any effort to compress the lives and experiences of millions of Africans and thousands of cultures “will always say more about the prejudices and laziness of the journalist than about his subjects.”
Many felt that prejudice was on display when one international news anchor erroneously stated that Africa’s most successful airline had a “poor safety record.”
So how does coverage of the crash fit within a broader Western media narrative that often covers the continent using racist and colonialist tropes? We ask a panel of east Africans.
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