The world mourns the tragic events in France on Bastille day. World media has flocked to Nice to report on this tragic event, Terrorism, the leading headline. Did the media perhaps miss the point and only aid the hysteria over Terrorism? Was this instead, a horrific criminal act of Mass murder?
As I write this, information is being released about who this man was, suggesting that he was perhaps not an Islamic extremist, but instead, a man suffering from mental illness and anti social behaviour. In this instance I use the word terrorist to define a person who uses terrorism and violence in the pursuit of political aims.
I do not opine on this case specifically, as I am not directly involved in the release of information, apart from in the media. Instead, I highlight the issue of terrorism, and the media so focussed on reporting terrorist attacks. I suggest, that as a consequence, this perchance, generates a climate that is conceivably furthering the doctrine of Terrorism.
An interesting example of the lack of immediate information available to the media resulting in an assumption of Terrorism, was the Lindt Coffee shop siege in Sydney December 2014. Initial reports from media focussed on terrorism purely on the basis of Man Haron Monis ethnicity, and the appearance of Islamic flags being held up by hostages. Significantly, after police had fully investigated the crime it was determined that this individual was mentally ill and had used terrorism as a guise for his criminal behaviour.
Does the media, in actuality, play straight into Terrorism and its dogma by being solely focussed on any attack and creating hysteria over the issue? Criminology studies, have shown that media play a critical role in how the public perceive crime and victimisation, compared to the actual levels of victimisation. Paramountly, this perceived risk of victimisation, determines the extent to which people conduct their daily lives. As a direct consequence, this can change and restrict their behaviour based on a perceived risk. Summarily, this encapsulates a situation where public fears lead to stereo types between ethnicity and crime, resulting in secondary victims.
There is a fine line between reporting these attacks and making assumptions before the real facts are released.
Like all of you I am appalled and deeply saddened by the events in France, that so many innocent lives have been lost and effected by the actions of one individual regardless of the underlying motive for the attack.