A series of attacks in Paris killed more than 100 civilians last November. Less than a month later, 14 people were killed in San Bernardino, California. On March 22, two more attacks killed dozens at a Brussels airport and subway station.
The overwhelming amount of time spent by news organizations covering these terrorist attacks makes it impossible for even the most out-of-touch American to miss. We have all, unfortunately, become way too familiar with the headlines announcing yet another ISIS attack, and it’s terrifying to think of how few of these attacks actually make American popular news. What is even more worrisome is the bias in American, and even global, media.
A suicide bomber in Lahore, Pakistan killed 72 people and injured more than 300 at a park on Easter Sunday. According to NBC, the man was targeting Christians celebrating the religious holiday and claimed to be a part of TTP-JA, a Pakistani Taliban group.
“Members of the Christian community who were celebrating Easter today were our prime target,” a spokesperson for the terrorist group told NBC. “Our targets were male members of the Christian community.”
Despite the attacks being on a holiday observed globally and having more victims than some of the other, more covered attacks, the media failed to cover the Pakistani attack to its fullest extent. Seventy-two lives were lost Sunday, most of them women and children, yet because of the normality of attacks similar to these in the Middle East, the story wasn’t deemed newsworthy.
With there being so many attacks all over the world, it is unrealistic to think that all of them would receive equal airtime, but the distribution is anything but fair. Those that take place in the United States or Europe have shown to be much more prominent across media outlets.
The hashtag #PrayforParis took over the Internet as people changed their Facebook profile pictures to show solidarity for the victims, yet when a similar attack took more lives in Turkey, there was silence. The symbolism of an iconic city such as Paris or the proximity of San Bernardino make for a more relatable story, yet whether news should be shaped around sensationalism is debatable.
With a topic as sensitive and prevalent as terrorism, it is crucial for the public to get the full story. American media outlets are falling short. Not only are they doing a disservice to the citizens of the United States, but they are also building a narrative that is excluding the people who are the most affected by these tragedies.
Instead of focusing on the instances in which Americans are killed or where Americans could be killed, which does nothing but foster a growing fear in people, media outlets should tell the full story. This is not about the United States. Terrorism is a global threat, and in reality, the Western Hemisphere has it easy compared to the countries where the conflict is taking place on the ground. As media consumers, we cannot forget the bias that takes place behind the scenes. It is our responsibility to filter information before we believe it to be true, and it is also our duty to keep in mind that this is not solely our fight and we are definitely not the only ones suffering.