How much is a human life worth in the media? It’s a staple question of Journalistic Ethics 101, and in a week in which the London bombings killed 55 and dominated the headlines, Crikey decided to look at how the media – specifically The Australian and the Sydney Morning Herald – covered different human tragedies.

JULY 12

London bombings: page 1 lead and page 8 spread (The Australian); page 1 lead and pages 8/9 (SMH).
Mining blast in China’s Xinjiang region, 22 dead 60 missing: page 7, one par (The Australian); not reported(SMH).

JULY 14

London bombings: pages 1, 2, 3, 4 (The Australian); pages 1, 8 and 9 (SMH).
24 Iraqi children killed in suicide bombing: page 1 (The Australian); not reported (SMH).
Pakistan’s worst ever train crash kills 150 and injures 1,000: page 9 lead (The Australian); page 7 one par (SMH).

JULY 18

London Bombings: page 1 (The Australian); page 1 (SMH).
98 killed in fuel truck bomb in Iraq: page 11 lead (The Australian); page 8, small double column story (SMH).
55 people feared dead in plane crash in Equatorial Guinea: no mention (The Australian); page 9, one par (SMH).

The bomb which killed 98 in Iraq was massively underplayed by both the SMH and the Oz, but given the different leanings of the two papers on the war in Iraq it would be stretching the point to suggest the story placement was politically motivated. Just not very important.

Peter Fray

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