Doorgaan naar hoofdcontent

The Terror News Cycle

The Terror News Cycle

 24 May 2017
Tags:  | 

On the BBC’s Today programme yesterday, some nine hours after the horror of the Manchester bombing, Nick Robinson was speaking to Chris Phillips, a counter-terrorism expert. ‘Terrorists don’t care who they kill,’ Phillips said. ‘It’s the number of bodybags that determines success.’ ‘And the publicity,’ Robinson interjected. ‘And the publicity,’ Phillips agreed. The Today programme then dutifully devoted its entire three hours of programming to coverage of the bombing (apart from a few minutes on weather and sport). This was before the perpetrator had been identified and before the security services had been able to assess whether or not the attack was an isolated incident. Coverage mostly consisted of commentators speculating on motives, along with a series of harrowing eyewitness accounts that helped to amplify the main objectives of terrorism: to create fear and to sow division.
This was followed by the next stage of the terror news cycle: journalists searching for victims, gathering outside hospitals and, in the case of one Telegraph reporter, putting business cards through doors in the hope of securing a statement from a man who was yet to find out whether his brother was still alive.
This doesn’t speak to the behaviour of all journalists and all news outlets, some of whom have focused not on speculation but on concrete acts of solidarity in response to the bombing and the tremendous rally on Tuesday evening in Manchester. But the media’s appetite for content is bound to overwhelm their more sober instincts to avoid intrusion and respect the need for privacy. In a news system desperate for attention and committed to scoops, sensitive reporting is a luxury that few can afford.
There are also papers and commentators who lose no time in using atrocities to whip up anger and to identify potential scapegoats. The Sun, for example, ran a leaderthe morning after the bombing that claimed ‘innocent people were murdered specifically because Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell sucked up to the IRA.’
Katie Hopkins tweeted in response to the Manchester attack that ‘We need a final solution,’ then wrote a piece in the Mail in which she mocked calls for unity and belittled the many acts of kindness that followed the bombing.
Allison Pearson said on Twitter that we need to introduce a state of emergency and intern ‘thousands of terrorist suspects’. In the Telegraph she called for ‘drastic action’ to protect children and to ‘tackle the alarming apartheid in our midst. Most Muslims,’ she wrote, ‘are decent, law-abiding people, but they need to have a bigger stake in the nation in which they live.’
We are often told to ignore ‘extreme’ voices – to dismiss them as unrepresentative – but, given their prominence in leading newspapers, where is the line between ‘extreme’ and ‘mainstream’ political discourse?
It’s worth asking what the point is of 24/7 reporting of terror attacks. Is it to provide blanket coverage of despair and horror, which is what the attackers are said to want? Is it to construct a ‘national sentiment’, to lay the basis for further securitisation? Or should it be to provide explanation – or at least some degree of context – to help people understand the political circumstances in which terror thrives?
This last is the approach that is largely missing from the deluge of coverage, and is often dismissed as somehow apologising for acts of terror. But without a recognition of geopolitical dynamics and recent Western military intervention overseas, terror attacks come to be seen as entirely mysterious, spectral events. To acknowledge their connections to global events is in no way to condone the atrocities.
What are we to make of the fact that Salman Abedi, who has been named as the Manchester bomber, was of Libyan descent (though a UK national) and had just returned from Libya? ‘Libya has become a failed state,’ the BBC’s security correspondent Frank Gardner declared on the Today programme after the bombing, as if this were an inexplicable and mysterious process, with no reference to the West’s disastrous intervention in the country.
What are we to make of the fact that the BBC’s leading news programmes dedicated only 63 seconds, out of nearly 13 hours of broadcasting following the terror attacks in Paris in November 2015, to the ‘blowback’ thesis, the idea that there is a connection between Western intervention and the growth of groups such as Islamic State? The thesis is hardly the invention of left-wing conspirators; its adherents include the UK’s Joint Intelligence Committee and Eliza Manningham-Buller, the former head of MI5.
None of this is to argue that journalists should avoid reporting on terror attacks. But knee-jerk responses that intensify public fear do nothing to contribute to our ability to combat terrorism and, indeed, satisfy the objectives of those who detonate the bombs.
We would all benefit from a slower journalism that didn’t resort to tired stereotypes and sought to expand, not to contaminate, our understanding of a violent world. The trouble is that there is neither the business model nor the political will to foster such an approach.

Reacties

Populaire posts van deze blog

Geert Mak Pleit Nu Voor Vriendschap met Rusland

Ik kwam zojuist mijn oude vriend, de bestseller-auteur en mainstream-opiniemaker Geert Mak in de regen op straat tegen. Na elkaar te hebben begroet, vertelde Geert mij dat hij van oordeel is dat Europa zo snel mogelijk met Rusland om de tafel moet gaan zitten, om de opgelopen spanningen te de√ęscaleren. De VS heeft heel andere belangen dan 'wij,' aldus Mak, die benadrukte dat de macht van 'onze' Atlantische bondgenoot ingrijpend aan het afnemen is. Kortom, ik hoorde wat ikzelf al enige jaren op mijn weblog schrijf. Opvallend hoe een Nederlandse opiniemaker binnen zo'n betrekkelijk korte tijd zo wezenlijk van oordeel kan veranderen.  Immers, Mak’s gevaarlijke anti-Rusland hetze was een treffend voorbeeld van zijn opportunisme. Mei 2014 beweerde op de Hilversumse televisie de zogeheten ‘chroniqueur van Amsterdam, Nederland, Europa en de VS,’ dat er sprake was van een 'Russische gevaar,’ aangezien ‘meneer Poetin’ aan ‘landjepik’ deed en dat de Russische president d…

America Has Been at War 93% of the Time Since 1776

America Has Been at War 93% of the Time – 222 out of 239 Years – Since 1776 By Washington's Blog Global Research, December 26, 2017 Washington's Blog 20 February 2015 Region:  Theme: 

Native American Rape Survivors

A sign marks the entrance to White Earth Indian Reservation in Mahnomen County, Minn. (J. Stephen Conn / CC 2.0) WHITE EARTH RESERVATION, Minn.—Candice (not her real name) awoke with a start. Someone was pulling down her sweatpants. It was a male friend. “Stop!” she shouted. He kept groping her. She kicked him and he fell off the bed. She dashed out of the bedroom, tripping and tumbling down the stairs. Gripped with fear, she heard his footsteps behind her in the dark and forced herself to stand upright as she staggered out to the porch. Candice was still intoxicated. She got into her car and drove into a ditch. A white police officer pulled up. She struggled to hold back tears as she told him about the attempted rape. All the officer saw was a drunk and disorderly Native American woman. He dismissed Candice’s report of sexual assault as a lie she had made up to avoid getting a DUI. He did not take her to the hospital for a forensic exam. The sexual assault was not recorded in his pol…