Letter: Helping the poor when the rich have short memories

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The Independent Online
Sir: In an excellent article (18 May), Peter Adamson points out that too much bad news can distort understanding of life in the developing world. Undoubtedly, achievements far outweigh suffering in the developing world as a whole, but how to get this across? Many readers will see echoes of Martyn Lewis's call for 'more good news' to redress the balance.

Such a reaction would be too simplistic. It is not realistic or desirable to expect news journalism or charities to focus on good news at the expense of tragedy, disaster, famine war or other suffering. What is important is a healthy features, documentaries and current affairs output to provide the wider and more complex picture that lies behind the news.

Sadly, there are signs that the broadcasting media's ability or willingness to give this wider picture is on the decline. Recent research carried out by a consortium of British development charities shows that the BBC's documentary coverage of the Third World has fallen by over a third in just two years between 1990 and 1992.

If we are to succeed in conveying a truer picture of the developing world to the British public, it is

essential for the media to make

a more explicitly international

commitment.

Yours faithfully,

DOMINIC BYRNE

Head of Communications

Actionaid

London, N19

19 May

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