Brussels, Belgium was bombed on March 22, 2016. The first bombing consisted of two explosions at the Brussels-Zaventem Airport around 7 p.m. (GMT), killing 11 people. The second bombing happened about an hour later at the Maelbeek metro station, by the European Union headquarters. Twenty people died in this explosion. The perpetrators of the first two bombs were suicide bombers, brothers Khalid and Ibrahim el-Bakraoui. According to The Guardian, they “were already being sought by police due to suspected links to the November terror attacks in Paris.” A third suspect, Najim Laachraoui, was arrested during a manhunt in Anderlecht, a suburb in Brussels. The Guardian reports that nearly 270 people were injured in the bombings. A third bomb that was found by airport security was safely taken care of. The Islamic State admitted to being behind the bombings.
Brussels received a ton of news coverage and public support after the attack. The public support for Brussels has positive and negative implications.
On one hand, it is good to see that people are willing to comfort those in other countries. On the other hand, the news coverage and public support for Brussels seems to show that we highlight some terror attacks more than others. Terror attacks had happened in various parts of the world before the Brussels attacks. On March 13 there was a car bombing in Ankara, Turkey that killed 37 people, and on March 19 a suicide bomber killed four people in Istanbul, Turkey. These bombings are also sad, yet they weren’t covered as extensively as those in Brussels. Covering one terror attack more than another makes it seem that some attacks are more important or tragic. From a personal standpoint any life lost to terrorism is sad, but news sources have limited time to cover each attack. This creates a complicated situation. How can they cover all terror attacks equally? Also, being able to cover these attacks depends on having reporters on-site and connections with inside information about them. Additionally, if the public has a limited number of family and friends in the places where the bombings are occurring, they must rely on news sources and social media for information about them.
However, some news is more relevant depending on where it is being covered. Maybe the Brussels bombings were covered more extensively since there was a series of bombings that occurred in one day, compared to Ankara, Turkey, where one car bombing killed 37 people. It is dehumanizing to assess the information this way, but the news media is concerned with time and keeping their audience’s attention, so they must decide what to cover and how much time to dedicate to it. Also, the content of the news is sometimes determined by what is happening in the country presently. For instance, currently news coverage in America is mainly focused on the presidential campaigns since it is election season. Therefore, news sources might spend more time discussing presidential candidates than reporting on international terror attacks.
In regards to the coverage of terror attacks people need to keep in mind that news sources make decisions about which stories and information are most important and timely without consulting the public. This results in some content being left out or covered in limited detail. Also, people must realize that it is not realistic to expect news sources to be completely unbiased or objective in their coverage since they are influenced by the public, their own personal bias, and contributors to the network. Thus, people should use multiple news platforms to learn about terror attacks and stay up to date with what is going on in the world. Just because the news media is limited, this doesn’t mean you have to be.
Sources: BBC, CNN, The Guardian, mic.com