HNC Home Page
News Business Arts & Life Sports Opinion Calendar Archive About Us
AN AGGIE LINE: USU cheerleaders perform during the Aggies' final exhibition game. It's time to cheer for basketball. / Photo by Brianna Mortensen

Today's word on journalism

Friday, November 10, 2006

Q&A with Ed Bradley:

Q: What single issue should be covered more at CBS News?
A: Foreign news.

Q: Have you ever been assigned a story you objected to? How did you deal with it?
A: When I first started in New York at WCBS radio, the assignment editor automatically assigned any story that had a minority in it to me. I objected to being typecast and told him if I didn't get a variety of stories -- as other reporters did -- then I would take it up with the news director.

Q: If you were not in news, what would you be doing?
A: If I had the talent, I'd play bass guitar and sing in a kicking band.

--Ed Bradley, reporter, "60 Minutes," died yesterday of leukemia at age 65 (2006)

You say you're broke? The cupboard is bare? Be grateful you've got it so good

By Kathryn Kemp

October 23, 2006 | We live in a world that is out of balance in almost every way. Wealth, education, health, and overall life chances are only accessible to a small group of people, while the rest experience life in a way that many could never imagine.

In 2001 Fast Company magazine presented an updated version of an idea that shows just how unbalanced the world is. If the world were shrunk into a small village of 100 people, all of the ratios in the world still present, this is what it would look like:

-- 60 Asian, 12 European, 13 African, 9 Latin Americans, 1 Oceanian, 5 North Americans -- 50 male, 50 female -- 80 nonwhite, 20 white -- 67 non-Christian, 33 Christian -- 20 people would possess 89 percent of the world's wealth -- 25 would live in substandard housing -- 17 would be illiterate -- 13 would suffer from malnutrition -- 1 would die within a year -- 2 would be born within a year -- 2 would have a college education -- 4 would own a computer.

It's interesting to me that white, middle class and mostly Christian Americans working on getting a college education, are a minority. How many of us realize that? How many of us see how lucky we are?

We live in a variety of "bubbles" where the world is only as big as we see it. It starts here, in our college student bubble. The whole world revolves around what we're doing now. Those of us who are native to Utah, have that bubble and experience life in the unique surroundings of the LDS Church.

Beyond that we are still in the U.S. where wealth, opportunities and success are advertised and displayed. Even traveling out of the country, how many people go to Paris, London, and Rome where their lifestyles match our own? More than go to India or Africa I'm sure.

I'm not blaming anyone for being the way they are. We are blessed to have the lives that we do, but it's easy to get caught up in them and forget that there are other people in the world who are not so lucky. There is no way for any of us to truly know what those people go through each day. The best way to understand is to look at the facts, and see how completely opposite our lives are.

Education:We are college students. We are getting an education and have been since we were 5 years old. There are thousands of people like us around the country. But there are millions of people not like us around the world.

There are almost one billion adults in the world who are illiterate. There are 115 million children in the world who are not in school because they have to work to help support their families. Less than 10 percent of individuals in poor countries enroll in universities as opposed to 57 percent in rich countries.

We are a lucky minority.

Wealth: A common complaint and excuse is that we're "poor starving college students!" I've said it before, and I know many others have. We joke about it, but a lot of us really can't afford a lot of things and work hard to pay for the cost of going to school.

But no matter how tight our budget is, we can afford a lot more than the 5 billion people living in developing countries, most of whom have to live on less than one dollar a day. Even just having a little money in the bank, some cash in our wallets, and some spare change somewhere puts us among the top 8 percent of the world's wealthy.

Hunger: We may complain about eating toast, macaroni and cheese, and Top Ramen all the time, and we miss our home cooked meals, but we never go hungry. We're getting the nourishment that we need to stay healthy. That is not the case for many people, especially children.

A May 2006 article by Joanne Clements said, "A Unicef spokeswoman said poor nutrition contributed to the deaths of 5.6 million children each year -- the equivalent of 10 children a minute.

Be grateful for macaroni and cheese.

Health: We have access to doctors, dentists, specialists, counselors -- almost any sort of professional health care -- at the drop of a hat. Women who are pregnant can have professionals attend them. We have been immunized for many illnesses and diseases, and can receive treatment and medication for others. We can even be treated for a cold. Our drinking water is safe, and our living conditions are sanitary.

In developing countries almost none of those conditions exist. Pregnant and birthing mothers receive little or no professional help, causing 30 to 40 percent of infant deaths or the death of the mother herself. Diseases that can be prevented and treated cause widespread death. Over 1 million people die of malaria each year. Tuberculosis is easily prevented, yet is the most common contagious infectious disease. Three million people die from waterborne diseases. Over 700,000 children under age five die from diarrhea -- and that is just in India.

In children, the main cause of blindness is a Vitamin A deficiency, while the single most preventable cause of mental retardation and brain damage is iodine deficiency. How sad that a little discomfort and inconvenience for us is a killer for so many others. It makes me inclined to hate going to the doctor.

The list of differences between our lives and the lives of people in developing countries could go on and on. Most of these facts and statistics come from YouThink! at youthink.worldbank.org">youthink.worldbank.org, but they can be found everywhere. Not just by looking at the hundreds of statistical reports, but by simply looking. If we pay attention, we can see it.

It's hard to imagine that a life like that really exists when we are so far away. But it does exist and we need to be aware of it. Because we can't solve a problem if we don't really know what it's all about.

I don't expect the world to change over night (although wouldn't it be nice if it did). Likewise, I am anything but perfect when it comes to doing anything to help the people who are suffering, so I am not here to preach. Instead what I hope for, for myself and for others, is that we simply recognize that there are billions of people in the world and we are among the select few who have the best there is.

I hope to put a spark of gratitude in a person's thoughts, because from there anything can happen. Maybe a spark of gratitude can lead to a spark of kindness, and if we have enough sparks, we can create fireworks.

NW
RB

Copyright 1997-2005 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-1000
Best viewed 800 x 600.