Media and journalism exist to bring forward an accurate account of a situation as it happens, to give people knowledge in a way that is as unbiased as possible. Whilst a certain degree of bias is inevitable, journalists should seek to cover the necessary across the globe.
A 23 year-old man, Deah Shaddy Barakat, his 21 year-old wife, Yusor Mohammad, and her sister Razan Mohammad Abu-Salha, 19, were all shot dead in cold blood in a suburban neighbourhood of North Carolina in February. American citizen Craig Stephen Hicks, 46, has since been charged with three counts of first degree murder. The following day Chapel Hill police said an ongoing parking dispute apparently led to the shooting which was a theory later rejected by the late sisters’ father, Dr. Mohammad Abu-Salha, who, according to the BBC, has described the shooting as a hate crime due to the family’s Muslim background. The lack of media coverage of the massacre has caused the Twitter sphere to go up in arms, whilst people also debate whether or not declaring the murders of the three students who happen to be Muslim can legitimately be labelled as ‘Islamophobic’?
Last month, an array of Twitter users has accused major media outlets of failing to provide sufficient coverage of the shootings. The murders have sparked anger, specifically by those who believe the tragedy has not been given the attention it deserves. Within hours the hashtag #ChapelHillShooting was trending worldwide. As a result the hashtag has been used more than 900,000 times. The hashtag seems to have been started by Abed A. Ayoub, the legal and policy director of the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee, who tweeted “Please keep the family of the victims in #ChapelHill in your thoughts and prayers. Senseless violence,” as a first tweet. An Arabic hashtag, which translates as ‘Chapel Hill Massacre’, was also trending with almost 33,000 tweets. Meanwhile the hashtag #MuslimLivesMatter was mentioned almost 100,000 times in the day following the shooting, condemning the lack of media attention the massacre received. “Mainstream media is not reporting it. Let’s ask about this. Let’s talk about it. Don’t let them sweep it under the rug. #MuslimLivesMatter” @IjeomaOluo. Norren Khan from the BBC Asian Network tweeted “No media outrcry? No angry protests? No demands for apologies? No major coverage? But Twitter on it. No surprise there. #ChapelHillShooting”. “Muslims only newsworthy when behind a gun. Not in front of it,” one particular tweet read.
According to reports, Hicks used Facebook to express his atheist views. In spite of this though, it has been suggested that the faith of the victims was limiting coverage of the case, were the victims of the wrong religion? The Woolwich incident was of course the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby by Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale. Mobile phone video footage taken only minutes after the attack showed one of the killers, hands covered in blood, clutching a knife and a machete, speaking directly to camera. It was first shown by ITV at 6.20pm, then on Channel 5 News a few minutes later and finally on the BBC News Channel at 7.02pm. Sky and Al Jazeera also showed parts of it. Some of the most distressing footage ever seen on UK television was broadcast and led to national and global coverage of Mr. Rigby’s funeral. The North Carolina shootings have now finally been covered by both local and international media but without the use of social media the shooting may have been covered to a lesser extent, fading into the background to be later described as a religious dispute that ended in tragedy.