Saturday, September 16, 2006

please save Wa-Wa from a fate worse than 'cannibalism'... predatory television networks

In West Papua (a province of Indonesia on the western border of Papua New Guinea), there is supposedly a six-year old boy destined for the cooking pot.

Wa Wa

The boy is called Wa-Wa and is from the Korowai tribe. The story goes that the tribe believes in khakhua, or witches who take on the form of men, attributing them as the cause of death, rather than disease. Wa-Wa was blamed as a khakhua and causing his parent's sudden death

A story was broadcast in May 2006 by Australia's version of Sixty Minutes (Nine network), with a reporter Ben Fordham journeying with a Smithsonian writer Paul Raffaele, which attracted very high television ratings. We wouldn't know as we try not to watch sensationalist garbage masquerading as factual journalism.

A rival network (Seven network), which broadcasts an even more appalling version of television journalism called Today Tonight decided to send in a film crew with that awful woman presenter to the village to try and rescue the boy.

the awful woman

Fortunately, the film crew was intercepted by Indonesian authorities and detained before being deported (though they claim they were not 'deported').

This saga has made huge news in Australia. Not so much the story about Wa-Wa, but claims by the Seven network that they were sabotaged by the Nine network.

This is what Dr Chris Ballard, anthropologist at the Australian National University had to say about it:
It's something akin to wandering around Baghdad asking about Paris Hilton.

There aren't [no evidence of cannibalism in Papua in recent years] as far as we know. There have been cannibals in the past in Papua but really that was quite some time ago. I think the sad thing is there are real stories to be had out of Papua, all sorts of conflicts and challenges being posed to the people in Papua and to the Government in Jakarta and really to have these clowns wandering around the landscape on so called missions of mercy, is a tragedy I think for all of us.

It's a complete non-story and it cues into something that's been happening recently, which is the development of adventure tourism and if you like adventure journalism. There are companies that now offer manufactured first-contact experiences in West Papua where rich tourists go in and are made to believe that they're the very first white people to have encountered particular groups.

And I think this the kind of journalism we're seeing coming out of this particular media war but the only endangered species I can see in this is Channel Seven's ratings.

I mean I think it's laughable, it really is. The real cannibals in this are the commercial networks who are trying to consume each other's audiences and each other's market share and I have no time for spurious claims about mercy missions.

- interview with Dr Chris Ballard (on ABC, a reputable network)
- Sixty Minutes transcript of the story 21 May 2006
- Paul Raffaele's story in the Smithsonian magazine September 2006 (which reads more like fiction)
- Today Tonight
- reporting by UK Independent 16 September 2006 (it gives better background)

*For more kitty thoughts, check out Camilla.


Emily stayed over last night woohoo! I couldn't get into her room so had to snuggle with my human at bed time. But this morning I did go in and meow at her but she didn't get up to feed me so I had to wake my human. Unfortunately she left this morning instead of spending the day with me.

Fortunately I still had a wonderful day today. I had a mid-morning nap with my human, and in the early afternoon I went outside to check chew on some grass while my human hung out the washing. Then in the afternoon we had another nap together. My human has been catching up on much needed sleep.

Tonight we are watching another football semi-final (they come before the preliminary final, try and figure that one out) between the West Coast Eagles (weagles) and the Western Bulldogs (doggies). My human wants the doggies to win as they are the underdogs (underdoggies?). I'm not sure, I guess I prefer the weagles not to win.


Blogger jess said...

naomi robson cracks me up

she IS terrible

Tuesday, 19 September, 2006  

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