Terror. In London – again. Plastered all over the old news media – interviews with bystanders, victims, TERROR TERROR TERROR in the headlines.
What the hell am I going to say to my son when he gets old enough to understand?
I mean, isn’t it a crazy, crazy world we live in?
A bunch of crazies kill 6 people in London and you have the choice of the following ways to cover it:
“Bunch of persons killed 6 people in X. See police home page here for instructions on how to secure your safety.”
“Bunch of sad, pathetic, deluded goat-fuckers killed people in London. Stay away from area X until police work finished.”
“Bunch of persons killed 6 persons in London randomly. Fortunately, it was no where near the level of casualties in Kabul last week when 60 persons got blown up. Good thing we still live in such a relatively peaceful corner of the world.”
“Bunch of persons killed 6 persons randomly in London. Today 60 persons also got killed in traffic and 600 died of cancer. Remember: One of the greatest dangers in the world today is to drive a car. And if you both drive and smoke you will almost certainly die before your time.”
“TERROR TERROR TERROR – see the body here – see the blood there – read about the crying victims – ” (to be continued for the next 10 pages/10 hours news reel).
So … take your pick?
Well, everyone just did. Tabloid or state sponsored TV, the variations don’t matter, because everyone just went for the last headline and following coverage. And why you wonder? To help the terrorists? Surely not!
Yet, the terrorists couldn’t wish for more than the massive media coverage – flowing with blood, tears, rage and outrage and capital TERROR TERROR TERROR headlines.
Terrorists are dependent on being seen. That leaves us with an interesting choice.
So you are now a newspaper person or in charge of a TV-station. You whine to us every year about dropping sales and number of viewers of flow TV. You say you are important because you are here to safeguard democracy. We need to have mass media still. Please support us: Buy our newspapers. Give us state support. Give us tax exemptions. Democracy depends on us.
Now there is a terror attack. How do you cover it?
Do you pick one of the first 4 approaches or do you pick “TERROR TERROR TERROR”? What is your priority? Democracy?
Minimizing the incentives to do terrorism?
Maximizing reader and viewer numbers?
And finally, there is you – who is reading this? What is your choice?
Do you trawl the websites of news media or let the TV run 24/7 to get the latest? How will that affect the choices of our intrepid democracy-guardians in the old media, when they see that the bad news still ‘sell the most’?
No, I won’t explain any of this to my son, of course. How could he ever understand? Maybe when he becomes a teen, I will try to make him see the connections – how we as viewers, and our renowned democracy-guardians in the old media, become more or less unwitting accomplices to terror.
No! No! That is an evil ugly distorted fanatic deranged twisted lie! We are not supporting the terrorists! You are mad, Chris. You are evil. You are totally off the deep end.
Well, I hope so. I hope I am just a bitter old fanatic left-wing academic has-been who has no clue. I hope the obsessive media coverage of terror will not have the slightest effect on deranged peoples’ choice to use terror.
I will let the doubt benefit …