The whole world watched as details of the Paris attacks unfolded. A sense of an international community could be felt, one similar to that of the 9/11 bombings. The same could hardly be said for attacks in non-European countries.
The atrocities in Paris that killed 130 people was carried out on Friday the 13th November. As the weekend rolled by the media had consistent updates on the story. The Guardian maintained an online ‘live’ page to keep people informed by the minute.
As I flicked through the Evening Standard on the following Monday, I noticed that at least 3 pages were dedicated to covering Paris alone. What about Beirut? A terrorist attack was carried out a day before the Paris attack in Beirut, Lebanon killing 43 and causing hundreds of casualties. A few other media outlets did report it, but why wasn’t it covered half as much as Paris was? Why did the Evening Standard not mention it (a free accessible-to-all newspaper)? The Beirut attack also did not get the same ’safe’ check in status on Facebook as Paris citizens did the next day.
One explanation for this is that more Europeans are likely to have visited or hoped to go to Paris rather than a city like Beirut. The West is generally more familiar with Parisian culture and landmarks and therefore feels more sympathetic towards them from having a sense of familiarity. Another possible explanation is the number of victims; triple the amount of deaths in Paris makes it a bigger story. However, we all know from previous events, number of victims aren’t important, but who the victims are. If we think back to last summer, over 2,000 Palestinians were killed by Israelis. But no sense of solidarity was felt, just simple reporting of facts and rising death tolls.
A more controversial reason is that race and background of victims determine whether a particular event should be considered news worthy. In this case Paris had greater news value because the city is one of Caucasian majority, whereas Lebanon is an Arab country. If European lives were taken in Beirut, would it have been a bigger story?
As we come closer as a global community, it seems people of colour around the world are repeatedly being highlighted as offenders, terrorists, anti-socials etc. Don’t get me wrong, Caucasian perpetrators are reported for the same negative things in the media. However, it’s not hard to see that black men are constantly shown as criminals. A study showed 51.6% of media coverage of black males was crime related (Cushion, 2011). Or to see that terrorist attacks carried out by ’Muslims’ have the greatest news value. Terrorism carried out by white people are hardly reported let alone even labelled as terrorist attacks. For example, the Wisconsin Sikh Temple massacre was labelled as “an act of terrorism, an act of hatred.” by Attorney General Holder. Regardless of this, if you look up the attack, you’ll find that not a single media outlet used the words ‘terrorist’ or ‘Christian’ when reporting it (not to mention the fact that the story was barely reported).
Is white supremacy really the case in media or are we ethnic minority people being paranoid?? We can see that coverage relating to ethnic minorities is generally derogatory issues. These same issues when applied to Caucasians are often played down or hardly reported.
As media becomes greatly accessible to more people, bloggers, independent writers and liberal thinkers can hopefully exert their opinions to give a fairer perspective on events that occur relating to all races.
Cushion, S., Moore, K. and Jewell, J. (2011). Media representations of black young men and boys. London: Cardiff University, School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies., p.33.
The Guardian, (2015). Paris attacks | World news | The Guardian. [online] Available at: http://www.theguardian.com/world/paris-attacks [Accessed 5th Dec. 2015].