Selectively Outraged? French colours

The terrorist atrocities in Paris last Friday generated blanket news coverage. Cyberspace was jammed with tweets, emoticons and Facebook posts, in a veritable outpouring of emotion and volley of opinions. Yet some responses were not focused simply on security and Islamic extremism; they also zeroed in on the media coverage itself.


Many noted that the day before, 43 people had been killed in Beirut. IS claimed responsibility, just as they did for Paris. However, the news coverage compared to Paris was muted by comparison. And then there were the 147 people killed at Garissa University College in Kenya in April. Again, the reporting was scant compared to Paris.

Is this a case, as was suggested, of ‘selective outrage’? Indeed, some go further, alleging that we care less for people in the developing world and consider their lives less valuable. They equate news coverage with compassion, which is a mistake.

When I worked in a BBC newsroom, we naturally discussed news priorities. A producer on the Today programme once opined that news items are categorised according to two criteria: interesting and important. Both are admittedly subjective, but they’re essential to understanding why the Paris attacks were covered so heavily. First, citizens of Western nations are disproportionately interested in what affects them personally. This is human nature. Second, the Paris attacks profoundly affect the West’s response to IS. Regrettably to some minds, they are of far greater importance than the attacks in Lebanon and Kenya. France was bombing IS targets days later.

In addition, many news organisations are businesses, and reporting is inevitably market-led. The truth is, the Paris coverage generated far more clicks on websites than news stories about Lebanon or Kenya.
 

What makes news? In many respects, whatever is deemed interesting and important by news organisations. Yet God is interested in all human beings, and they are all important to him.


Sadly, news coverage will never fully reflect God’s compassion for his creatures. For all the good it brings, media is inevitably unbalanced and impoverished when it comes to providing the wisdom and guidance we need. In a broken world, why would we expect otherwise? Still, in these insecure times, Christians can find wisdom and security in a sovereign God – and invite others to discover the same for themselves. For, while God’s purposes are sometimes hard to discern, his ways are always just, and his love endures forever.

Richard Collins

Richard Collins works with Living Leadership, a charity which provides training and support to church leaders around the UK. He blogs at Mirth and Melancholy.

Copyright LICC and reproduced with permission. To receive LICCs bi-weekly emails Word for the Week and Connecting with Culture, email mail@licc.org.uk

The views carried here are those of the author, not of Heart 4 Ipswich, and are intended to stimulate constructive debate between website users. 
We welcome your thoughts and comments, posted in the forum below, upon the ideas expressed here.

Richard Collins, LICC, 24/11/2015
Oasis postcard thumbnail
New life at Oasis
Although the Ipswich International Church started an English language school about 13 years ago it has recently taken on a new life as an independent organisation. More ...
Tk new Logo - large
New patron for TK! 
Talitha Koum are delighted to announce the appointment of Bishop Mike Harrison, Bishop of Dunwich, to the role of patron for TK. More ...
Ipswich in Prayer thumbnail
Ipswich in Prayer has recently launched a new website! 
Many individuals, groups and churches have been praying collectively under the Ipswich in Prayer (IIP) banner since October 2000. We have seen many prayers answered and great encouragements, as well as challenges. More ...
WQC - hands thumbnail
Woodbridge 'Hands'
Visitors to Woodbridge over the Easter Weekend were given a preview of a new piece of artwork in the town. Those who walk into the town centre from the riverside theatre can now see an 8ft high ‘hand sculpture,’ created by the acclaimed artist Rick Kirby More ...
Suffolk Show Banner 236x136
Volunteers Wanted at Suffolk Show
Volunteers are wanted to support the ministry of the Churches Together in Suffolk stand at the Suffolk Show which is taking place on Wednesday 1st and Thursday 2nd June at Trinity Park on the outskirts of Ipswich. More ...
Heart 4 Ipswich
EA ambulance Chaplaincy 236 x
Volunteer Chaplains Sought by East of England Ambulance Trust
An exciting opportunity for both lay and ordained volunteers as The East of England Ambulance Service NHS Trust is looking to extend and develop its chaplaincy service throughout the six counties of East Anglia. More ...
Heart 4 Ipswich
ResidentialChristianCommunity
New Residential Christian Community in Ipswich?
Would you like to support the process for the creation of a residential Christian community in Ipswich? The Diocese of St Edmundsbury and St Thomas’s are starting the discernment process by inviting those who are interested to come together More ...
CofE Suffolk
CF-Choir-logo 2
A Chance to Sing at the Royal Albert Hall
Ipswich-based Cantus Firmus Choir is recruiting singers to join them to be part of the massed choir at London’s prestigious Prom Praise, at the Royal Albert Hall, on Saturday 2 April 2016. More ...
Heart 4 Ipswich
Ormonde 236x136
Ipswich Care Home enters 40th year
Ormonde Christian Home for the Elderly is a long-established residential care home in the centre of Ipswich. It opened its doors to the Christian community in 1976. Almost 40 years on and the heart of the organisation hasn't changed. More ...
Heart 4 Ipswich
Advent001
Discover the Reason for the Season
A little over 2000 years ago the birth of an ordinary looking baby boy in a dirty stable started something special. Discover the meaning behind te season... More ...
Heart 4 Ipswich
Refugees001sml
Church Leaders Speak Out On Islamophobia
The Bishop of Durham has joined many other Christian leaders from across denominations, warning against fear and Islamophobia after the terrorist atrocities in Paris... More ...
Heart 4 Ipswich

To submit a story or publicise an event please email:  stories@heart4ipswich.co.uk