Monday, November 16, 2015

Lebanon Attacks: Forgotten by Media?

A couple of days earlier, a double suicide bombing terrorized and attacked the streets of Lebanon, destroying a busy shopping area in the Bourj Brajneh district around 6 p.m. According to the Lebanese Health Ministry, about 43 people were killed and about 239 people wounded. ISIS has claimed responsibility for the attacks, but these statements are not verified, according to CNN. ISIS also claimed that it was targeting Hezbollah, a Shitte militant organization that backs the Syrian government.

"There's a lot of shattered glass on the street, a lot of blood, and it's really just a scene of chaos and carnage," said journalist Tamara Qiblawi. Citizens have been advised not to be near the scene as well as nearby hospitals so ambulances can take victims to the hospital more easily.

The White House condemned the attacks on Lebanon, stating that it would "only serve to reinforce our commitment to support the institutions of the Lebanese state, including the security services, to ensure a stable, sovereign and secure Lebanon." Iran, an ally of the Hezbollah, also condemned the attacks. Lebanon's prime minister, Tammam Salam, also condemned the bombings, who also called for a national day of mourning. Salam adds, "I pray that this tragedy is enough to wake up politicians so that they can put their differences aside so we can protect the country."

Additionally, the Lebanese Army revealed in a statement that the bombers had struck at 6 p.m. in order to maximize casualties. Furthermore, the body of a third bomber was found near one of the blast sites with his explosive belt fully intact. 

Many people took their sentiments about the attack to the social media. Some people also complained that the news of these attacks did not nearly get as much news coverage as the attack in Paris, which happened a day later. Facebook was also criticized for having the "Safety Check" feature in response for the attacks in Paris, but not for the Beirut bombings. Zuckerberg stated that prior to Friday, the feature has been only used for natural disaster events and now he plans to "activate Safety Check for more human disasters going forward as well."

How do you feel about these criticisms toward the media? Are they justified? Why or why not? Do you feel that the media has not had enough coverage for the Beirut bombings? Some believe believe that the events did get different media coverage, but for valid reasons, such as the fact that the Paris attacks were sudden, while the attacks in Lebanon happened in Beirut, an active war zone. Is this a valid justification? Overall, how do you feel about media and its power to spread awareness about various events, such as terrorist attacks?

NY Times, BBC, CNNThe Washington Post (photo credit)


Jeffrey Song said...

I think that the core of this issue is the Wests's attitude towards the Middle East. The image of the Middle East being a region filled with instability and constant war has been perpetrated by the media and news for so long - and for good reason - that we have in a sense become desensitized to the violence going on there. The whole reason that the Paris attacks are receiving an enormous amount of attention compared to the Beirut bombings is precisely because we are fearful of that same violence and chaos which we had previously been disconnected from. In fact, the Paris attacks brings in massively more awareness to the entire issue as a whole - though people are complaining about the lack of coverage of the Beirut bombings specifically, I honestly doubt that many of them would be voicing those same complaints had the Paris bombing not occurred. The whole social media hype and backlash about people changing their profile pictures illustrates this example - many people are criticizing those changing their profile pictures as not doing enough and simply hopping on the "bandwagon", yet those same people were silent when it came to the countless other attacks because of ISIS and the instability in the Middle East. Ultimately, pinning the blame on the media for covering the Paris attacks more is certainly a valid criticism in a perfect world where similar issues receive similar attention regardless of the region or context in which it occurred, but it is not realistic in this case and in fact the Paris bombing is bringing far more awareness to the region and its problems as a whole.

Huayu Ouyang said...

I don't think that it is necessarily the media's fault for not publicizing attacks in the Middle East more because it is the public that the media is trying to gain views from. However, the public's opinions are definitely shaped by the media over a long period of time. I think the one reason that people cared more about the Paris attacks is because the Paris attacks did have more causalities than the attacks in Beirut. It is also probably because people in Western nations are more likely to care about people in other western countries, like France, and view nations in places like the Middle East as "other", as people are more likely to sympathize with people who are like them. In addition, in Western nations, people who don't know that much about the Middle East will probably lump all the countries together. Since there has been violence in countries like Syria and Iraq, people might assume that Lebanon is also a country filled with attacks despite the fact that according to the NY Times, "this was the deadliest suicide bombing to hit the city since...1990" and see this attack as less shocking than the one in Paris. I agree with Jeff that even though at first there was little media coverage about the attacks in Beirut, afterwards there was actually a lot of media coverage about the backlash against this. I think that these events actually helped to bring more awareness to the Western-centric bias in both the media and in people's minds.

Hannah Fontanos said...

While the Beirut and Paris bombings are both tragic, I don't think that the criticisms towards the media are justified because the media usually just covers what it believes will appeal to the public. It seems that Americans have gotten used to hearing about violence and tragedies in the Middle East from the media. As a result, Americans have been associating the Middle East with these kinds of events. That's why the media didn't give the Beirut bombing as much coverage as the Paris bombing - the shock factor that the media, and usually readers, wants in stories isn't as prominent as it is in the Paris bombing. I believe that the events got different coverage, but for valid reasons. The American public can relate more to the Paris bombing because people feel closer to France, another Western country. The event also makes Americans realize that a terrorist attack, like the bombing in Paris, is possible in America. All in all, I feel like the media gets heavy control over what we know and what we don't know regarding current events. Because I rely on the media for coverage of current events, I don't get to control how much I know or don't know about current events. Personally, I find this power of the media a bit unsettling because I would prefer to know as much as I can about events instead of getting information about certain events more than others.