Last weeks attack in Nice, France has once again sent shock waves throughout the world and left us disgusted at the sickening intent of what ISIS is claiming credit for.

Sickening hardly seems a strong enough word for someone who swerves a truck to intentionally target and crush children.

However another aspect that I find sickening is the debate that starts almost before the bodies have been moved from the crime scene, and while others are still dying in the hospitals. This is the debate over why our media don’t focus as much on terror attacks in Middle Eastern, Eastern European, African or other Non-Western countries, while providing blanket coverage of Western attacks.

Most of us are aware of the truck bomb terror attack in Baghdad that killed several hundred earlier this month, it was covered by the news networks and reported on in the nations print media.

The people who instigate these debates bemoaning how much attention we give Western victims as opposed to victims elsewhere would like us to think that our media doesn’t care about Non-Western victims.

The scene of the bombing in Baghdad that killed hundreds Image - CNN

The scene of the bombing in Baghdad that killed hundreds
Image – CNN

I don’t think the media is to blame for this, I think they just make a convenient fall-guy. The fact is the media will run things that the public are interested in seeing or will read about. The sad truth is of course that the public would rather know what celebrity has broken up with who, which reality TV flavour of the month has better taste in bathroom tiles or makes a better pasta sauce, or who is going to be Australia’s next forgotten karaoke star.

So why do we care more about attacks in Western countries?

The answers are so simple it makes me wonder why anybody would ask the question in the first place.

If we take France for example, at any one time, but particularly in the European warmer months there are tens of thousands of Australian tourists there. Indeed in the Nice attack as well as the previous Paris attacks there were Australians caught up in the attack, two of those in Nice are still in hospital as I write this.

If there are Australians in Baghdad it is more than likely that they are military personnel deployed there in the fight against these terrorists. Nobody really heads there for holidays unless it is to visit family.

Whether those starting this nonsensical debate like it or not Australia is a Western country. Australians rightly believe that if it can happen in France, England and the US then it can happen here.

Innocence lost in Nice Image - Time

Innocence lost in Nice
Image – Time

The way terrorism works is by creating fear, and fear is based around self. The fear that something will or could happen to ones-self or someone you are close to. This is less likely to occur in a Non-Western country or in a Middle Eastern war zone, a simple fact backed up by logic and travel statistics.

When an attack happens in a Non-Western country I have never heard someone say “Geez I was only there a year ago”, or “Bloody hell, I have a mate over there backpacking”, however this is a common response when something happens in Europe.

I consider myself lucky to have travelled reasonably extensively and this attack took me back to a night I joined other backpackers who slept on the beach at Nice despite there being signs saying it was not allowed. I remember being woken up with a gentle poke from one of two policemen, one of whom said with a smile “Good Morning, time to get up now” as they worked their way down the row of sleeping bags. Most of those on the beach with me were Australians.

I have also travelled to Non-Western countries however encountering another Australian there was far less likely.

Authorities collect bodies on the road next to Nice Beach

Authorities collect bodies on the road next to Nice Beach and empty prams

To those claiming that as a society we care less about a death of an Iraqi child as we do a French child only feeds the ideology of the home-grown terrorist and it is not based on fact.

The level of coverage is not a measure of how much Australians care, it is more a matter of the “It could have been me” mentality. That mentality is certainly human instinct, but it is sure as hell not some kind of imagined prejudice.

As for the argument that a higher death toll makes it more worthy of news, I would suggest leaving the morbid competition over the number of casualties to the terrorists. Every casualty is tragedy, no matter where or how many others occurred in the same attack.

To those making these accusations of our press I have some advice.

This is a time for mourning and respect, not a time for making petty points about imagined prejudices.

Wake up to yourselves.


3 thoughts on “Could Have Been Me – The coverage of terrorist attacks debate

  1. Beautifully expressed Peter! What more can one say?…”Peace on earth”,…these days….as hard to grasp as a sunbeam! RIP..All those lost…everywher !


  2. Yet again your words cut right through the hyperbole to the point. Extremely well disseminated and documented. Thank goodness we have people like you in this country of gullible, tabloid reading, shock jock believing, rednecks.

  3. The other thing about the level of coverage, Peter, is that you gotta have film. It’s much easier to get a TV in to France to film an attack than it is in Iraq. And we all know video rules – if you ain’t got moving pictures, it ain’t news any more.

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