BBC handled this delicate problem a bit differently a few days ago.
After a Syrian migrant announced his fealty to ISIS, and his intention to blow Germans up in their homes, and then detonated himself in a wine bar in Ansbach, Germany, BBC headlined its report in this ingenious manner:
“Syrian migrant dies in German blast.”
LU’s Howard Portnoy interpreted the BBC editorial decision as most of us would:
The BBC headline is an indication of how far the liberal press will go to promote the twin fictions that (1) the radical Islamist terrorists who carry out these deadly acts do not do so in the name of Islam, and (2) attacks of this nature are for the most part for the most part retaliation for Islamophobia.
But we shouldn’t overlook the possibility that BBC was just grasping for a way to avoid posthumously glorifying the attacker. If you think about it, there would hardly be a more foolproof way than mischaracterizing the event entirely. Turning the bomber into a victim would deny him glorification, at least as a “martyr” of jihad.
We need to start thinking in this convoluted manner, because the media are constraining themselves to do so.
The Guardian reports that some French media outlets have already decided not to publish images or names of terrorist attackers, in order to avoid gratifying them (and/or terrorist recruiters) with “posthumous glorification.”
Now, first of all, I’ll believe it’s really about that when I see the same media avoid posting the name or photo of an Anders Breivik, the Norwegian who massacred 77 people in a pair of attacks in 2011. Breivik was after notoriety and recruitment too, and he certainly got the notoriety. To hear European leftists tell it, he got the recruitment as well: ordinary Europeans who complain about the migrant influx are basically Breiviks waiting to happen, potential homicidal psychopaths motivated by xenophobia and hate.
But aside from that, it’s true that this can be a complicated issue. It’s understandable that media managers would object to their outlets becoming conduits for messages they find reprehensible. It’s never been a requirement of professional orthodoxy for them, that they ignore how their audience perceives what they report. Some in their audience do think of it as a form of glorification, when a jihadi “martyr” is featured in the Western media for his or her appalling acts.
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