The Reason Paris Got More Media Coverage than Lebanon and Nigeria — Even in Iran

As outpouring of support for Paris was unmissable, many were questioning the cultural bias behind it.


The world was rocked by the terrorist attacks that targeted Paris on Friday. The outpouring of support and media coverage was swift and exhaustive. Facebook allowed users to mark themselves as “safe” in the social network while encouraging its users to add a French flag filter to their profile picture to show their support for the city of lights. From first-person accounts to political editorials, the weekend was filled with news stories about the attacks, flooding social media networks.

And almost instantly, criticisms arose about how the Paris attacks were receiving privileged attention not usually afforded to similar atrocities outside the West.

Most of the outrage was directed at the way the media was not covering bombings in Beirut that had happened just the day before Paris. The New York Times even published a piece on precisely this topic just this weekend, perhaps paradoxically making and disproving the point of the article’s headline: “Beirut, Also the Site of Deadly Attacks, Feels Forgotten.”

"Almost instantly, criticisms arose about how the Paris attacks were receiving privileged attention not usually afforded to similar atrocities outside the West."

More improbable, perhaps, were the various news stories about a bombing in Nigeria that began to make the rounds on social media. Why, users were asking, were the lives of those in the Middle East and Africa not being treated with the same grief-stricken anger and outrage as the deaths in Paris?

What few people seemed to notice was that the Nigerian attacks (which claimed an estimated 2,000 lives) had happened back in January, its coverage following in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attacks in the French capital. That is, stories about how the Nigerian bombings coverage had differed from those in Paris were almost a year old.

(Sadly, Nigeria was victim to another attack on Tuesday, killing 30. The media, perhaps spurred by the recent criticisms, has been quick to push its reporting.)


A picture taken on October 23, 2015, in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, shows people standing in a mosque following a suicide bombing. At least 28 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a mosque in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, on Friday, raising fresh security concerns after a wave of similar attacks. Maiduguri has now been hit six times this month, killing a total of 76 people, according to an AFP tally, underscoring an increased risk to civilians after similar strikes in neighbouring states and near the capital, Abuja.

Photo credit: STRINGER/AFP/Getty Images

Yet, as Max Fisher notes, the issue of media coverage of Paris versus Beirut (or, earlier in the year, Nigeria) may not have to do with news outlets as much as with readers and their social media sharing habits: “What's driving people to scold media outlets for not covering an event they have in fact covered extensively?”

The news stories, he points out, were there; they just weren’t being disseminated and read with the urgency and empathy that characterized the media narratives surrounding Paris. That shouldn’t detract from the necessary questioning of why acts of terror in non-Western nations are often ignored, but it should also be an opportunity to reflect on the very ways we consume and engage in discussion of news around the world.


Top photo: The great pyramid of Khufu is illuminated with the French, Lebanese and Russian flags in Giza, outskirt of Cairo on November 15, 2015, during a ceremony in homage to the victims of attacks in Paris and Beirut and the Sinai plane crash. (KHALED DESOUKI/AFP/Getty Images)

--

Manuel is a NYC-based writer interested in all things media and pop culture. He's a regular contributor to The Film Experience and Remezcla. His work has been featured in Mic News, Film Comment, and Model View Culture. He also has a PhD but hates bragging about it. www.mbetancourt.com

LinkedIn meets Tinder in this mindful networking app

Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.

Getty Images
Sponsored
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.

No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.

Keep reading Show less

Love in a time of migrants: on rethinking arranged marriages

Arranged marriages and Western romantic practices have more in common than we might think.

Culture & Religion

In his book In Praise of Love (2009), the French communist philosopher Alain Badiou attacks the notion of 'risk-free love', which he sees written in the commercial language of dating services that promise their customers 'love, without falling in love'.

Keep reading Show less

A world map of Virgin Mary apparitions

She met mere mortals with and without the Vatican's approval.

Strange Maps
  • For centuries, the Virgin Mary has appeared to the faithful, requesting devotion and promising comfort.
  • These maps show the geography of Marian apparitions – the handful approved by the Vatican, and many others.
  • Historically, Europe is where most apparitions have been reported, but the U.S. is pretty fertile ground too.
Keep reading Show less

Extreme opponents of GM foods know the least science, but think they know the most

New research on the public's opinion about genetically modified foods illustrates an alarming cognitive bias.

(Photo: ROBYN BECK/AFP/Getty Images)
Mind & Brain
  • A recent study compared the public's scientific literacy with their attitudes on GM foods.
  • The results showed that "as the extremity of opposition increased, objective knowledge went down, but self-assessed knowledge went up."
  • The results also suggest that, in terms of policy efforts to boost scientific literacy, education about a given topic alone isn't going to be enough.
Keep reading Show less