On the issues of covering the attacks on Charlie Hebdo

The front covers of today’s UK newspapers compiled by Nick Sutton (BBC). The Independent extended the list to include several other European newspapers.

In these dark days for journalism and freedom of expression, the media must take equal responsibility in the covering of cases such as yesterday’s attack on the French satirical weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The words and phrases that are being used in many of these covers, the dichotomous world view that is continuously being reinforced throughout the cover texts, the paradigmatic use of us and them to explain the deeds of terrorists, further adds to already existing divides in society, rather than helping to close the gap.

Yes, we need and must call for freedom of expression and the press to be protected; there is no question about it. We have to show solidarity with our colleagues who are attacked and murdered for doing their jobs, everywhere. But alongside the demand for our right to express ourselves and to do our job without being harassed, threatened or murdered, we (the media) must also take responsibility for our reporting. Looking at some of these covers, it’s quite clear that “we are not all Charlie“, and that is indeed a problem.

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