Sunday, 31 March 2019 15:22

UK – Politicalite Focuses Only on Terrorist, Not Victims, in Coverage of New Zealand Terror Attack

Far-right news website Politicalite gives the majority of their reporting to dispelling claims that the Christchurch terrorist had links to the far-right. The author did not give any media attention to the victims of the terror attack in New Zealand, moreover using the article as a vehicle for anti-Muslim narratives. This is UK’s media monitoring highlight for March.

This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of March, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.

UK March 2019Date of publication: 17 March 2019

Media Outlet: Politicalite, populist far-right news website

Author: Ian Adamczyk

Link: https://bit.ly/2JJwD5j

Headline: "REVEALED: New Zealand Attacker WASN’T ‘Far Right’, He Was Linked To Left-Wing Groups"

Description of the anti-Muslim content: This article largely focuses on dismissing claims that the terrorist who committed the recent attack in Christchurch was far-right, referencing various elements of his manifesto to ‘prove’ that he was in fact a left-wing individual. The article spends very little time talking about the actual terror attack and mainly focuses on the terrorist’s political affiliation. The piece looks to compare the coverage of attacks committed by Islamic terrorists to that of the New Zealand attack, claiming that “when Muslims kill and shout ‘Allahu Akbar’ the motive is never clear with the establishment, the police and the mainstream media very quick to diagnose the terrorists as being ‘mentally unstable’ and nothing to do with religion.” 

The article then seems to compare victims of terror attacks, and states that there are “double standards” between Muslim and non-Muslim victims. It focuses on London, stating: “You do not see the Mayor of London, terrorist defender Sadiq Khan increasing security around churches or Christian places of worship when Muslims carry out these despicable and callous attacks but when Muslims are attacked he is the first one out offering increased security at mosques around the capital.” The author goes on to accuse the media of only giving attention to Muslim terror victims, and ignoring Christians who have been victims of terrorism. 

Myth debunked: Covering a terror attack in the media can be difficult to navigate, but there are certain clear guidelines all journalists should follow for ethical news pieces. According to Dr. Verica Rupar, this includes focusing on the victims, not the attacker, something which this Politicalite piece clearly does not adhere to. It seems the author’s main aim is to dispel any claims of far-right affiliations with the terrorist; overall, the article is written in a very defensive manner. This is likely because Politicalite identifies as a populist news publication, and thus does not want any affiliation with the terrorist. Politicalite was not the only British publication to pay close attention to the terrorist, not the victims. The Daily Mirror ran a headline describing the terrorist as an “angelic boy who grew into an evil far-right mass killer” alongside a picture of the terrorist as a blond toddler, later dropping the term “angelic” after much backlash

The victims of this terror attack are given little to no attention in the piece; on the contrary, it seems Adamczyk feels they and their community have received preferential treatment due to their Muslim faith. This is then tied into the dangerous rhetoric that Muslims, in this case in the UK, are valued more than non-Muslim Brits, and references the London mayor Sadiq Khan as a “terrorist defender.” This all plays in to the narrative of a ‘Muslim invasion’ occurring in Europe, a narrative which is used heavily by the far-right and has repeatedly been debunked. Critique of media coverage of terrorist attacks, no matter the religion of the victims, is valid; however, it should not be used as an excuse to disregard those affected by the terrorist attack in Christchurch.  

More to read:

What we learned from analyzing thousands of stories on the Christchurch shooting

Christchurch attacks provide a new ethics lesson for professional media

Ethics of Care in New ZealandEthics of Care in New Zealand

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