Over the course of the past few weeks, the news cycle has been dominated by numerous tragic terrorist attacks that have left the global community shaken. Targeted assaults on Paris, Beirut, and a peace rally in Turkey have all occurred within the last few months. While these events have unfolded, many say that the coverage they have received by the media has been greatly disproportional. However, many also claim that the real problem may be what people are choosing to pay attention to.
Most recently, the Paris attacks took place on Friday, November 13th, and resulted in the deaths of 129 people as well as wounding 352 according to CNN. The attacks occurred at six different locations around the city, which included a concert venue and a soccer match between France and Germany. The terrorist group ISIS was confirmed to be behind the attacks after quickly claiming responsibility for the horrific scene that spread across Paris.
Only one day earlier, two suicide bombings also carried out by ISIS occurred in the capital of Lebanon, Beirut. These bombings killed 43 people and injured 239, according to CNN. It seemed as though the violence in Beirut only gained mainstream attention after news of the Paris attacks were in the spotlight as well. Many were quick to point out an extreme difference in media coverage between this tragedy and the events in Paris. However, it is apparent that it was not the media who failed to cover the Beirut attacks, but rather a large portion of readers failed to pay attention to it.
Media outlets such as CNN, The Washington Post, NBC, and The New York Times all provided coverage of Beirut as well as Paris, but the issue seemed to be that the global community was not reading it. “There is coverage of the Beirut attacks, but unfortunately, people associate Lebanon as part of the Middle East that has a lot of violence, and quite honestly, western media consumers are going to be a lot more interested in an attack that happens in Paris,” says social studies teacher Daniel Gross.
Western focus quickly turned away from the atrocities that took place in Beirut after news of Paris broke. Important buildings all around the world were lit up with the colors of the French flag, #prayforparis was immediately a trending topic, and the public’s attention shifted fully to France. “Everyone was putting the French flag filter over their profile pictures, but that wasn’t even an option for Beirut,” notes Model UN member Ruby Powers. “I think it’s really sad that we’ve come to this point where we’ve accepted that since violence happens more frequently in some parts of the world, they don’t deserve the same amount of acknowledgement as tragedies that happen in Western countries.”
A similar response was seen when a terrorist attack in Turkey took place. The suicide bombings in Turkey occurred in mid-October, when bombs went off at an Ankara Peace Rally, causing the deaths of 97 people, according to NBC News.
These acts of terrorism received far less attention from the global community than the Paris attacks. While it’s easy to accuse the media of not providing an equal amount of coverage for these events as what has resulted from Paris, it’s clear that the deeper problem lies with the media consumers and what they are interested in. No buildings were lit up with the colors of the Lebanese, Kenyan, or Turkish flag. No social media platform offered one of these countries’ flags as an overlay for photos to show solidarity. No hashtag for these over three events was ever trending. Gross remarked, “Ultimately, the media does cover all of the attacks. The question is which one gets more attention, which one gets circulated more on social media.”
Featured Photos: Refugees displaced by strife and war in the Middle east and Africa. Picture by Xing Gilbert