Christchurch terror in context: Media as accessory to the crime?


Listening Post’s report on Islamophobia in the Western media. Video: Al Jazeera

Pacific Media Watch Newsdesk

It has now been almost two weeks since 50 people – Muslim worshippers – were killed in New Zealand’s largest South Island city, Christchurch.

The gunman live-streamed his killing-spree on Facebook, and the video – all 17 minutes of it – spread from there.

There’s a depressing pattern to the coverage of stories like this, as Al Jazeera’s Listening Post programme reports. The big tech platforms scramble to take down the offending video and then face questions over whether they did enough, quickly enough.

Mainstream news outlets enter a state of inner conflict. Playing that video on a loop is wrong, but they’ve got clicks and ratings to consider.

In this case they found a face to put on the story too – but not the murderer’s, since he is a white supremacist.

They went for New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, a white politician getting more coverage than the victims.

Listening Post presenter: Richard Gizbert

Jeremy Littau – Media scholar, Lehigh University
Nasya Bahfen – Senior lecturer, La Trobe University
Malaz Majanni – Founder and CEO, OnePath Network
Priyamvada Gopal – Academic and writer

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