By Natalie Rich
This past year, it seems like terrorist attacks have become increasingly common.
Most recently, the terrifying and awful attacks in Paris and Brussels received wide media coverage. The attacks are generally associated with the rise of ISIS/ISIL, which has grown in recent months. However, there were many more recent terrorist attacks that received negligent or inadequate coverage. On Nov. 12, 2015, two terrorists detonated suicide bombs in Beirut, Lebanon. This occurred only one day before the Paris bombings. On Jan. 12 and March 16, Istanbul’s Sultanahmet and Beyoğlu districts were hit by suicide bombers, respectively. And on March 27, Lahore, Pakistan, was the victim of a devastating terrorist attack. These are only four of the most recent terrorist attacks that have occurred, yet altogether they have received less media coverage than Brussels or Paris.
I would never suggest that the attacks in Paris and Brussels are not deserving of adequate coverage, or that they should be ignored. I am merely stating that there is a bizarre, and frankly biased, coverage of terrorist attacks. When attacks happen in a Western country, they make headlines for days. 24-hour coverage details every minute aspect of the attacks, and giant manhunts ensue from the goverment for possible accomplices. But when a city like Lahore or Istanbul is hit, it is noted, but not treated with the same shock and attention by Western media outlets. My older sister lives in Istanbul, and I did not become aware of either of the details of the Istanbul attacks for hours after they occurred. The only way I figured out whether or not the area where my sister lived had been hit was by reaching out to her personally.
Essentially, since bombings are more common “over there” (a term I have heard often to describe the Middle East), they are not covered nearly as often or with as intensly as an attack in a Western country. CNN reporters aren’t on the ground in Lahore reporting on the developing details. It’s thinly veiled racism. A bombing is a bombing, no matter who dies. But in the media, when Western Europeans die, the attack is given more coverage. I do not know any of the names of the victims in Pakistan, Istanbul, and Lebanon, whereas the names and faces of the Brussels and Paris victims were plastered all over the media for days. Again, they should absolutely be remembered and mourned, but so should the Pakistani, Turkish, and Lebanese lives we lost in the past few months.
I do not believe that it has to be an either/or situation with regards to coverage. I understand that media outlets need to pick and choose which news to cover based on a myriad of factors, but I think that media outlets like CNN, MSNBC, and Fox, which are watched worldwide, owe it to the world to cover attacks in other parts of the world with equal weight as attacks in countries where “this just doesn’t happen as much.”