Cape Town - Some lives should not matter more than others, and it's up to the media to ensure this ideal is never lost. That's according to Alexey Nikolov, managing editor of RT (formerly Russia Today), on day 2 of the BRICS Media Forum taking place in Cape Town.
Nikolov was on a panel discussion titled: "Imagining a shared global future forged by constructive and development journalism: seeking ways to enhance co-operation among the new media in BRICS countries".
"In preparing for this speech today, I thought a lot about #BlackLivesMatter. And I thought in preparation, BRICS lives matter. Allow me to explain," Nikolov said. He spoke of how when there was a natural disaster in a developed nation, it receives top-flight news coverage.
"But, 100 people die in a landslide in China, and there's barely a mention. Ten people are killed in a terror attack in France, and it's front page news around the world. But hundreds die in Mali, and it's forgotten," Nikolov said.
He mentioned the Mandela Effect - the fact that while the father of the nation was imprisoned and thus, received no news coverage, was assumed to be dead by the journalist who coined the phrase. Out of sight is out of mind, and it was up to the media to ensure that every tragedy, every terror attack and every story be evaluated on its merits, and not by the news subject or geographic location.
"Let me take you through another example. BRICS nations have hosted six major sporting events in the last ten years - three world cups and three Olympics. The storytelling in the majority of mainstream is always the same and follows the same formula:
"Phase 1 - Oh, they will never be ready in time. The stadia won't be completed in time. There aren't enough hotel rooms. The tourists will all get robbed. And this continues for a few years until they host the tournament.
"Phase 2 - Oh! They managed to be ready in time. The stadia are beautiful. The hotels are world class. The people are friendly. Everyone had a great time.
"Then comes Phase 3 - the hangover. Argh, the country is now in debt. The facilities are not being kept up. The legacy projects are going nowhere. The stadia are falling apart and turning back into pumpkins."
It was up to BRICS nations to stand together and change the narratives, particularly about developing nations. Media owners and editors needed to step up and help change mindsets and thus, effect a change in the storytelling.
"And this cannot be achieved by signing a BRICS Media declaration. This cannot be achieved by speaking about it on panels and in forums," Nikolov said.
"It must be implemented in every diary meeting, every news conference, every round table with news editors. We need to give our audience a different agenda, a different view of the world.
"We need to incorporate this mindset into everything we do. We need to look at this in our storytelling and remind ourselves: a person is still a person, no matter who they are; a tragedy remains a tragedy, no matter where it takes place; a terrorist remains a terrorist, no matter which life he takes."And that is why I say: BRICS lives matter."