Home – Trends We're Seeing from Monitoring Media Coverage of Terrorism

Trends We're Seeing from Monitoring Media Coverage of Terrorism

Posted on 11-19-2015 by Megan Burnside

It’s embarrassing to admit it, but some media bias—and perhaps, the public's—is showing. On Thursday, Beirut was the site of two suicide bombings that killed 43 people and injured at least 239 more. On Friday, nine terrorists fanned out across three locations in Paris, killing 129 and leaving hundreds more injured. While the media covered both events, public perception, including some widely-shared tweets, suggests that the lion’s share of media coverage focuses on Western nations rather than those in the Middle East, Africa and Asia.  After seeing the debate in the Twittersphere and reading an article on Vox.com that did a little finger pointing of its own—at readers—we decided to use LexisNexis® Newsdesk to monitor the media and see if any trends would surface.

The media did cover both events. As the Vox.com article notes, the bombings in Lebanon received coverage by The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Economist, CNN and, said the article, “Even the Daily Mail, a British tabloid most known for its gossipy royals coverage, was on the story.”  However, in defending the media, the article chooses a scapegoat—the readers. It suggests, “Yet these are stories that, like so many stories of previous bombings and mass acts of violence outside of the West, readers have largely ignored.” Before jumping on that high horse, however, here’s a clear reality check: 

Share of Voice analysis of media coverage for both attacks shows an astoundingly large gap in the amount of coverage the media provided. The 18,000+ articles covering the Beirut attacks are dwarfed in comparison to the more than 900,000 mentions of the Paris attacks in the span of less than a week.

We also conducted analysis of Coverage over Time: 

Again, the difference between media coverage of both attacks is striking. While there was coverage of both attacks, the disproportionate amount of coverage from the Paris attacks indicates that some of the criticism aimed at the media is warranted.

As we look into sources of news, we also see the non-traditional media types—blogs, micro bloggers, comments—showed little or no coverage for either attack. So, perhaps some of the media’s criticism of its audience is also warranted. 

Clearly, both sides of the debate have misrepresented their commitment to providing—and following—coverage of all terrorist attacks. In light of these insights, maybe it would be better to stop throwing stones at each other’s glass houses, and pledge to be united against terrorism everywhere—whether you’re a media outlet or an audience member.

3 Ways to Apply This Information Now

  1. Check out some of the other topics we’re monitoring on the blog – from news topics to retail holidays.
  2. Follow along with our Presidential Campaign coverage.
  3. Request a free trial of LexisNexis Newsdesk to see what can be discovered with media monitoring and analysis.

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