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Media coverage for Paris and Beirut

by on November 17, 2015

While nearly every news outlet and social media site is filled with reports and tributes to the attacks in Paris, the public feels that Beirut has been pushed to the side. Just one day before the violence in France, two suicide bombers killed 43 people and wounded at least 239 in the capital of Lebanon. It was soon discovered that these bombers were ISIS recruits as well.

Once this news spread over social media following the French attacks, many were outraged that it did not get the same coverage and support as Paris. A widespread tweet has gained popularity for calling out the media for not covering Lebanon, to which several journalists reacted to. Several news outlets, including The Washington Post, The Economist, CNN, and the Daily Mail ran long pieces on the bombings. In an article on Vox, Max Fisher wrote, “these are stories that, like so many stories of previous bombings and mass acts of violence outside of the West, readers have largely ignored.” So many people are putting the blame on the media for neglecting to report tragedies in other parts of the world when they are the ones who choose to disregard it.

The recent events in Paris became so publicized here because people tend to talk about things that they know more about and are more connected to. We have a better understanding of and longer history with France, and the fact that they were our first ally only makes us more supportive as a country. Trouble in the Middle East is more difficult for Americans to grasp because of our relationship with them and because most Americans are more likely to have traveled to Europe than to the Middle East. We have such little information about that part of the world, and because that area has been in turmoil for so long, we are used to imagining them in a constant state of violence.

Now that these attacks have come to light, hopefully people will realize that we are ultimately on the same side as the Middle East and the rest of the world against ISIS. As Julia said in the previous blog post, media is incredibly powerful and, if used correctly, can gather support and bring countries together.

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3 Comments
  1. Thank you for bringing this into our blog conversation. The lack of Beruit coverage is quite astounding. You also bring up an interesting point from Max Fisher; is this lack of coverage the media’s fault, or that of news consumers? I think it is combination of both; media organizations are covering what the public deems as culturally significant. If what Fisher says is true, that history shows us that Western readers ignore violence outside of the West, then that displays an unsettling reality of insensitivity towards the Middle East. Some people have even suggested that because it was white people who were killed in Paris, that that is the only reason the attacks received so much coverage over Beruit. While such statements may be a tad drastic, it is interesting to consider this as an issue about race and diversity.

    Akin to our recent class readings and discussions about diversity, is the lack of Beruit coverage a racial issue? Is it a diversity issue? I think yes, these events open up the discussion of newsroom diversity. Perhaps we would have seen more about Beruit, and other daily tragedies in the Middle East for that matter if our newsrooms had a stronger demographic of Middle Eastern reporters. Growing up in a place so different from America or Paris, Arab reporters would presumably have an insight and understanding that the run-of-the-mill, white, male reporter could not possibly comprehend.

  2. It’s great that you’re opening up this conversation to be had. The way the attack on Paris was covered really brings into question Western perception of “terrorism” in my opinion. Whenever a Western country is targeted by ISIS, a huge stir arises and the conversation of ‘the war on terror’ swells again. However, when this same conflict happens in the Middle East, where there is the most tension and day-to-day terrorism, suddenly to the western readers, it’s not terrorism. What about the drone strikes the U.S. conducts in countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, and so forth. Is that not terrorism? Does that not strike terror in the civilians that are also affected by those bombs? I think that we need to reevaluate our western perception of terrorism. Those war torn countries are not solely occupied by extremist groups. They’re occupied by civilians who have done nothing wrong and (as we clearly see) are fleeing ISIS- or at least trying to. They way many media outlets are portraying this is not conducive to helping refugees fleeing the tyranny of ISIS. It’s only hurting innocent people.

  3. I agree, although the widespread support for Paris these past few weeks was astounding, it caused other events in our world news to be pushed to the sidelines. The attacks in Beirut were just as brutal and unjust and yet a majority of our population was more worried about changing their Facebook profile pictures to support Paris. It is harder for our country to relate to the problems in the Middle East, because sadly many are just not educated in that field. Many have biases towards that part of the world and assume they are all the same, all the enemy. But they could not be more wrong. They are suffering the effects of ISIS and other mellitus groups if not more then us and surrounding countries, and deserve much more of our support then they are receiving.

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