Published on 19 Nov 2015

We cover bomb attacks in Beirut too but you show less interest

PARIS, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 14: Gun bullet impacts are seen on the windows of Le Carillon bar, the day after a deadly attack on November 14, 2015 in Paris, France. At least 120 people have been killed and over 200 injured, 80 of which seriously, following a series of terrorist attacks in the French capital. (Photo by Antoine Antoniol/Getty Images)

I’m just back from Paris – exhausted and not a little upset by what I saw and heard.

One of the few good things to come out of these bleak few days is the sudden interest in atrocities committed in the Middle East and Africa. Some have criticised us – the media – for unequal coverage of two terrorist bombings, one in Beirut last Thursday and the other in Paris on Friday.

I’m hoping they’re not the kind of person who jumps on a hashtag bandwagon and then goes back to watching videos of skateboarding dogs, but will start a movement demanding more in-depth international news.

I wasn’t in Beirut during last week’s bombing, but I was for one in November 2013 in which 23 people were killed – here’s my report, in case you missed it at the time.

I see that 80 people recommended my blog and video story while 29 retweeted it. Compare that to the response my colleague, Krishnan Guru-Murthy, got when he challenged the movie director, Quentin Tarantino, on the use of violence in his films: 3.52 million views on Youtube and rising.

It’s not that we don’t cover bomb attacks in Beirut and elsewhere, but sometimes the viewer shows less interest. Many are more interested in show business, celebrity and news closer to home.

I have spent my whole career reporting atrocities in Africa, the Middle East and Asia. That’s what I do. Some people watch and care. But many people, if I’m honest, switch off.

At Channel 4 News we continue to report the war in Syria (I was just there – did you watch my reports?), the resulting refugee crisis (ditto) and events like the Al Shabaab attack in Garissa, in northern Kenya in April.

But sometimes I feel we’re howling in the dark because so few of you respond. That attack in Kenya, the most viewed story on the BBC website on Sunday, garnered considerably more interest last weekend than it did at the time.

I don’t think that the lives lost in Paris are more valuable than those lost in Beirut. I do think that the atrocities have different meanings, because it is relatively easy for Islamic State to bomb Lebanon whereas a huge attack in a European capital shows them to be a far more dangerous organisation than previously recognised.

ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURYAn injured man holds his head as people gather near the Bataclan concert hall following fatal shootings in Paris, France, November 13, 2015. At least 30 people were killed in attacks in Paris and a hostage situation was under way at a concert hall in the French capital, French media reported on Friday.  REUTERS/Christian Hartmann - RTS6W2R

So, yes, Paris was a bigger story in news terms, apart from the higher death toll. And, yes, the viewing figures went up, because this was a story people could relate to – more Britons visit Paris than Beirut.

There are also practical issues – South Beirut, where last Thursday’s bombing occurred, is controlled by Hizbollah, who rarely let journalists film and never freely. There’s no way the hundreds of journalists who descended on Paris would have been permitted to flood a Hizbollah area for days on end. But that’s just a logistical issue, not your problem.

If you don’t watch the extensive foreign reporting we provide, it must be partly our fault. We have to look for new ways to tell the story – did you see our recent interactive online package that asked viewers to make the choices refugees have to make?

Several of my colleagues – Marie Colvin of the Sunday Times, and the US reporter James Foley who was murdered by IS – lost their lives doing this work. If they had survived, they would have been in Paris too reporting this awful mass crime in a European capital, in which, incidentally, many non-white people were killed.

But they’re not because they died reporting in very dangerous circumstances stories that I fear those tweeting, #Beirut2Paris, didn’t bother to read or watch.

 

Tweets by @lindseyhilsum

72 reader comments

  1. Stephen Barber says:

    I do watch many of your reports on atrocities in distant places, but I quite understand and indeed share the feelings of those who are more affected by an atrocity nearer home, such as the recent one in Paris. The fact is that we have more empathy for people for who are nearer to us, geographically and culturally, than for those who are more distant. It is inevitable that this is so. Of course we need to know about such things further away but, unless we have family or other connections there, we inevitably cannot feel so strongly.

    1. Dug says:

      We only identify with those victims in Paris because it is so easy to identify with them.. The parallels are obvious and lives of people in Paris are very much like our own. But we can identify with Lebanese victims just as well; they have a thriving cafe culture, and it’s hard to not empathise with a lost child or spouse, no matter the other cultural differences.

      1. Lorcan says:

        Here lies part of the problem, I think. I take Lindsey Hilsum’s point that C4 News and others do report on similar tragedies elsewhere, and that in certain ways the attacks on Paris were a “bigger” story. But there doesn’t seem to me to be any intrinsic reason why British people ought to be more able to relate to or identify with French victims than Lebanese ones. The fact that these kinds of attacks happen more frequently in Lebanon is certainly no reason not to identify with the victims as human beings. And this is certainly not helped when the area attacked – a civilian suburb – is quickly described as a “Hizbollah stronghold”, conjuring up images of a fortress defended by armed soldiers, rather than a place where families live, children go to school, and people do their shopping or meet with friends.

        What really struck me about the coverage in the aftermath of Paris was not the quantity, but the content. So much of it, rightly, sought to humanise the victims, to paint them as people just like you or me, going about their daily lives. There by the grace of God… The human story was taken to be as important an element as the political story. But this doesn’t happen in the same way, or to nearly the same extent in the case of attacks like the ones in Beirut (my finger isn’t particularly pointed at C4 News here, their coverage is generally much better than you get elsewhere). It’s little wonder in this context that people are less affected by accounts of what happens in Beirut, or Ankara, or Baghdad. This only fuels and is further compounded by the pernicious thought that this is “the kind of thing that happens there”. Such thoughts and coverage is dehumanising; we need more of the kind of coverage that humanises.

  2. dalecooper57 says:

    Lindsey, I know exactly what you mean.
    The unbelievable amount of hate and bile being spewed onto the Facebook newsfeed (strangely, mostly by Americans) since Friday is beyond offensive. I have been posting as many links as I can, to try and illustrate how ignorant these assumptions are that everyone seems intent on making, but all I get is “…you are just playing into the hands of these f____ing Muslims, they’re all the same, they just want to bomb your family/rape your children/impose sharia law…” and no matter what anybody says, the bigots will not be convinced.

    I wrote a piece on my blog about just this subject on Sunday, as a companion piece and introduction to a beautiful post by the extremely talented Mr Adam Pain, who tackled the topic with his usual warmth and wisdom.

    Both my intro and a link to his blog are here, should you be interested:

    http://diaryofaninternetnobody.com/2015/11/15/reblog-the-war-within-a-world-of-pain/

    Keep up the good work, there are plenty of us out here who value and depend on your integrity and balance in reporting on such important and emotive events.

    dalecooper57

  3. Nick Taylor says:

    Keep up the fine work Lindsey.
    People do care and do follow you.
    I have read your reports frquently, but personally felt less inclined to share many as I know many glaze over at the mention of atrocities on unknown soil. You have convinced me to change that view.

    1. Andrew Dundas says:

      How true Nick!
      Perhaps I might add that British news coverage is somewhat better than many other countries’ and that all our news channels are well-received worldwide. C4 is a fine government owned channel, but unlike the BBC, is financed by Ads.

      I only wish I could find C4 and Lindsey Hilsum on TV when I’m abroad. Last night I was able to watch ‘The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon’ from CNBC. Why can’t I watch C4 news when I’m in the USA?

  4. CWH says:

    I watch your reports Ms Hilsum and although I don’t use Twitter I do tell my friends about them and tell them about the many events and situations that are covered in depth on CH4 news as a whole.

    Please don’t stop doing what you are doing.

  5. Richard says:

    Very good points, saying something similar to Emma Kelly a few days ago: http://qz.com/552540/the-media-did-cover-attacks-in-beirut-and-kenya-you-just-werent-paying-attention/

    It’s not the journalists, it’s the readers.

  6. Greg says:

    I follow your article up until the ‘non-white’ casualty comment. Seems like your last minute, unexplained and throw-away comment infers that readership is driven by skin colour…odd.

    1. Holly says:

      I think she was replying to people on social media who have deplored Paris sympathisers for “only caring when white people get blown up”.

  7. Alan says:

    It’s not the lack of reporting so much as the lack of journalism. Why doesn’t the media follow difficult questions? All we end up with is an official spokesperson.

    1. Greg says:

      Exactly, journalism must be tangible, not just present. I won’t claim to avidly follow Lindsey, her track of covering incidents in all geographies certainly looks credible. Like you say, merely reporting a version of events isn’t really enough, and if I’m looking for some decent analysis of a situation it’s unfortunate that I’m much more likely to find it in reporting about incidents in Europe than I am in reports from the middle east.

      Nevertheless, Channel 4 leads the way on professional reporting…the BBC make me cry.

  8. Elisabeth says:

    Thank you so much Lindsey for all the work that you do. It is very much appreciated and incredibly important.

  9. Tim Smith says:

    Brilliant. Well said, Lindsey. Woke me up and embarrassed me in a very good way. Thank you.

  10. Michael Barratt says:

    Thank you for a brave, well-rezoned piece – like your report in for Channel 4 News which is always impressive and worthy of a bigger audience.

  11. Alejandra Lopez says:

    Hello Mrs. Hilsum,
    It’s two o’clock in Los Angeles, but I couldn’t go to bed without congratulating you on this story. I tend to browse the latest news, at the beginning and end of my day, and tonight I couldn’t have finished my day any better, than by reading your thoughts on this controversial #Beirut2Paris matter. Thank you for pouring your heart out, for clarifying, and knocking some sense on those who criticized without knowing the facts, on the danger and relevance of reporting.

    Have a superb day, and may you always be safe, and continue doing what you love, whether people show interest or not.

    Sincerely and respectfully,

    Alejandra Lopez Fraga

  12. Sophie says:

    Dear Lindsey, i would like to say that me and my husband are part of a silent minority who don’t normally comment anything on the internet. First time ever. But this time i wouñd like yo comment on your post, to say that we have followed your reports in the middle east for years now and find them very interesting and insightful. Congratulation for such an excellent, very professional, work. Channel 4 is one of the few TV news that indeed try to balance information and try very hard not to be too biased in these internacional issues. In France, where i come from, we don’t see too much of that. We were discussing with my husband, who is british, and a muslim, that we need to push actions which will encourage people to ‘globalise’ their empathy skills. We are not there yet, but i see more and more people being truly touched by what is happening in parts of the world where they have never been. Thanks partly to the work of humanitarians around the world, the social shift of some medias and education systems that do try more than before to foster understanding, empathy and social responsability (even if they are still clumsy sometimes in the inter cultural approach). Let’s hope these positive signs will mean that in a few years, more people will understand that a human is a human everywhere. That the loss of the life of a young muslim man in Beiruth is as tragic as the loss of the life of a young girl in Kenya, of young students drawning in a boat in Asia, of a russian couple travelling back on a plane from Egypt, of a mother and a daughter dying in a concert hall in Paris, etc. So thank you for reminding us of that.

  13. Ian Welsh says:

    Well said Lyndsey,

    The social media response to the Paris massacre opened my eyes to my own perception of atrocities in different parts of the world. Maybe we’re too complacent, being far away from Africa, the Middle East etc. Even as I’m writing I’m getting an alert of an incident in Mali. Paris is on our doorstep, it’s our playground so it’s real to us in the UK.

    But apart from outrage & sympathy we, I, have a feeling of helplessness. We have a weak PM who can show his ‘strength’ by threatening warfare but won’t show compassion & leadership in taking positive action to help refugees.

    I, for one, will pay more attention but with a sense of despair

  14. Andrew says:

    I follow it all; but sometimes the skateboarding dogs just have more appeal. If I immerse myself in the atrocities of the World then I am permanently sad; and at times just so angry at the destruction being wrought upon this beautiful world.

    The question is this; what help to anyone is my sadness and anger? It’s certainly no help to me – I get so distraught at times that I’m useless for anything.

    This is NOT in any way intended to disrespect the AMAZING work that you and people like you do in bringing the news to us. You are heroes of the modern world and I am not worthy by comparison. I just sometimes feel that I would be better off living in a bubble with endless videos of skateboarding dogs and sad faced cats to keep me amused.

  15. Gee says:

    If it wasn’t for channel 4 news I’d know nothing of the events that go on throughout the world. The news and unreported world are brilliant. Thank you.

  16. Donald says:

    Hi Lindsey

    I’ve never usually leave comments but I’ve read your piece above and wanted to express my appreciation of the work that you do – and I hope I’m just part of a silent majority that recognise Channel 4’s coverage of the ‘lesser stories’. True, people in the UK generally don’t seem to be so interested in atrocities such as the Beirut bombing but it’s vital for our awareness that you keep reporting and pushing these stories in front of the British public – so few UK news channels do now. Ch4’s reporting for example of the Palestinian / Israeli conflict a year or so ago was astonishing. I have a 15 year old daughter who is just starting to study Global Politics at 6th form school – Ch4’s news and the foreign affairs reporting that emanates from this programme is a fundamental resource for her and her class. Keep going Lindsey.

  17. Viv Thorpe says:

    We have admired your reporting from across the globe for many years Lindsey. I know that Channel 4 will be criticized whatever it does, but I do feel that it is important to keep a balanced view and not focus too heavily on one story for too many days…..

  18. YOHAMI says:

    How come the Beirut attack has tons of pictures and videos of the events taken by the people who were present, while everything about Paris seems staged and there’s zero footage of the events by the people who took part on it, or any kind of video evidence of explosions, body parts, etc? False Flag or real?

  19. Scott Malcomson says:

    People EXPECT bombs to explode in Beirut.

    That’s because what was the Jewel of the Mediterranean has been an on-again, off-again warzone for decades now. So much of the city is in perpetual ruin, it would be a bigger story if a city block were properly rebuilt and populated with normal, everyday people living a peaceful life.

  20. Hamzah Raja says:

    Hi,

    Just wanted to say I love your work, Mr Jon Snow’s and the whole of Channel 4 News.

    Ch 4 is the most unbiased news channel, unlike the likes of BBC, Sky etc.

    Thank you,
    Hamzah Raja

  21. Nicky Brockwell says:

    With the way the news is reported it sound like the stories are rated by likes. But is that Journalism? while the media focus on Paris, other important things could be happening that we are missing.
    I think independent journalist are in a position to make change if we don’t focus on one area with all the other news, plus it would gain trust amongst the audiences. Lets face it isn’t that what we are- truth seekers?

  22. Earthangel says:

    Yes, you are right a lot of people are jumping on the hashtag band wagon. However, it seems to me that a lot of news reporting gets hidden under all the celebrity driven crap, one might even think that this is a deliberate move. Your article has given me food for thought and I for one will seek out where I can get up to date information on what is really happening in the world around us.

  23. Jocelyn says:

    Thank-you Lindsay. I must admit I was one of those who jumped on the bandwagon, in defense of Lebanon’s attrocities the day before Paris and not getting coverage.

  24. Rachel says:

    Hi Lindsey,

    I’ve always rated your reporting and I really appreciate the range of stories that Channel 4 news tells. I’m not the sort of person who comments on media stories but this blog entry found its way to me and it really strikes a chord.

    It’s true that attacks on European civilians attract more publicity, and no doubt it is partly because places like Lebanon and Kenya seem remote. I think the idea that ISIS could be able to commit atrocities on the same scale as Paris here in Britain is a big part of the way we are focusing on it rather than Beirut, for example. Essentially we are afraid for our own safety and this has proven that there is a real threat.

  25. Tanya de Grunwald says:

    Great piece, thank you. We’re all guilty of switching off when it’s something we feel we’ve heard before, seems distant from our own lives, or is something we feel we can’t do anything about. None of us can take in all news from everywhere, every day. But let’s each take some of the blame for mis-prioritising what we give our attention to. As you say, the news is there and we should be thanking journalists, not blaming them for our own failure to engage with reports they may have risked their lives to deliver.

  26. Pat Baillie says:

    Dear Lindsey Hilsum, You are not ‘howling in the dark’. You are shining a light on unfolding events that the world needs to see. You are keeping a balance in the face of a very biased media. As one of the ‘silent minority’, I know I can rely on your integrity and objectivity when you deliver a report. Your fortitude in these harrowing circumstances must be hard to maintain. Your work is immensely important. The silent minority (like myself) are with you all the way. We depend on you. Thankyou for what you are doing. Pat Baillie.

  27. chris elam says:

    Dear Lindsey
    I have always admired your work, your gutsy reprting from war torn regions, without your concise and clear pieces to camera, we would be worse off, you always manage to balance both sides of the story, putting your life on the line so we may be better informed.
    yes paris is closer to home, so we feel the vibrations more personally,
    The down side to all news is that it is always changing and skipping from story to story, so the viewer can feel like they are being entertained, whilst the real life victims have to live with the horrors for the rest of their days.
    One day I hope that you will have no wars to report, maybe that day is far away,
    but please don’t take up acting, after rosewater, please stay doing the great work that you and the C4 news team so professionally adhere to.

  28. Rima Amin says:

    This is absolutely true.

    Thank you Lindsey for taking the time to write this. When people’s attitude towards coverage is combined with failure to recognise their own responsibilty – it’s incredibly frustrating.

    I hope the concern people hold is genuine and they can start to make change in the way they engage.

    There are journalists like yourself doing incredible work and devoting their life to cover stories which are often not given enough credit or visability.

    I look forward to seeing more of your work

  29. Jamie says:

    No-one seems to mention the 224 (mostly Russian) people who died recently in the plane bombing. Far more than Beirut or Paris. Is this because we don’t like Putin? It certainly seems hypocritical to call for more coverage of Beirut without mentioning that.

  30. Dug says:

    Firstly, I want to concede that these atrocities in the Middle East are indeed covered by the press and the author’s work is appreciated. I would also like to say that I understand her position in this article; the general public aren’t that interested in bombings in Beirut or Nigerian markets.

    However, as is usually the case, things are rarely that simple.

    News and news consumption is a classic supply and demand mechanism. The concept is simple, but the relationship is complex…

    Media outlets want eyeballs on news (website page-views, paper units sold, viewing figures, etc.) because it’s a revenue stream. Producing what people are interested in, achieves this.

    However, this can also lead to editorial degradation in the thirst for more eyeballs (e.g., click-bait headlines and controversial opinion pieces). It can also become a self-fulfilling prophesy in that the more controversial opinion pieces attract an audience that are both sympathetic and unsympathetic to that opinion, so the outlet produces more of the same. If there’s no editorial balance of opinion, then the media outlet and its audience migrate towards an unbalanced position; i.e., that which we have with the, so called, right-wing press where there isn’t much balance of opinion and they end up printing the most incredible misrepresentation of the facts.

    I’m not even going to go into the political agendas of some of the less independent media outlets.

    Also, much like a new product can create new demand or take market share, the weighted importance of news can guide how interested the public are in given events. If the recent attack in Beirut was given the rolling live status, splattered all over the front pages for days and days, interest would come. People respond to emotionally to tragedy when they can identify with it but with indifference when it is abstracted. In the Paris attacks, we could identify because we saw the victims, we could picture ourselves doing the same things (going to a concert, a cafe or a restaurant), we identified because it was easy to put ourselves in the position of the victim.

    We don’t get that depth of detail with an attack in the Middle East. It’s reported that water is switched-off, homes are bulldozed, civilians are killed in the West Bank, but we don’t have interviews with the relatives or survivors, telling us what mundane things they were doing when disaster struck. Or if we do, it isn’t given the priority (airtime, prominence, etc) as Paris was given.

    There is much criticism of the West being desensitised to deaths in the Middle East and Africa, and this is true to an extent, but it takes a rare type of mind to not be moved by a mother grieving for her dead child, for a father searching rubble for a wife, etc.

    I’ve rambled a bit, but ultimately this is a problem of two-halves. The UK public need to care more about the lives of non-Europeans and respond with outrage and sympathy for all lives cut-short by violence. But equally, the press need to tell us about it in enough detail to trigger that empathy and in enough volume that it’s hard to miss. They need to lead by example and demonstrate that the lives of these Lebanese people are just as important as these Parisians.

  31. P Doff says:

    So it’s the viewers fault that you give blanket coverage to the Paris atrocity but lip service to most others…..err ok Lindsey, if you say so.

    Thanks for patronising us too, I just love my “skateboarding dogs” videos, never miss the latest ones.

    You seem to be complaining about the very people you wish to encourage to “start a movement”, that’s some way to encourage people!

    You compare your report with Krishnan’s interview with Tarantino, may I ask what the viewing figures were for both on the nights they were broadcast rather than the youtube/your blog numbers. That would give a rather more accurate view of their popularity with Channel 4 News viewers rather than youtube viewers/Tarantino fans don’t you think?. Did C4news figures jump on the night of the Tarantino interview or were they roughly the same as normal?

    Which do you think would get most views on youtube:- A David Cameron interview or a Quentin Tarantino interview?

    If your blog gets such low recommends/retweets, perhaps you should be asking yourself how YOU could improve those figures. Or do you consider your writing/reporting worthy of far more attention? (obviously your readers/viewers do not).

    Do you truly believe regular C4 news viewers tune in because they prefer the “showbiz” / celebrity interviews? If that were the case I would suggest they would look elsewhere as it isn’t exactly a “celeb” oriented programme is it?

    If people “switch off” when you report on atrocities may I suggest you re-assess your reporting style. Having seen your laughable report from Latakia that included Russian bombers taking off (which you didn’t show us) I too “switched off” in a fit of laughter and disbelief. Is it not your responsibility to engage and keep your viewers interested enough NOT to turn off? Or is it their fault you cannot inspire them and keep them interested enough to remain tuned in to C4 News? if you cannot………

    So “yes”, I’ve seen most of your reports from around Africa, middle East etc. It’s very rarely I miss C4 News.
    If you want me and others to respond more to your reports try making them more interesting, informative and educational ! Try engaging us more, try SHOWING us Russian fighters taking off instead of TELLING us they are/have.

    You think people don’t “care” or are not interested because they don’t respond to your reports? How wrong you are! They care, but they just don’t know they do. They didn’t “care” until they saw a dead little Syrian boy on a beach. They didn’t “care” until they saw people starving in Ethiopia, they didn’t “care” until they saw the Charlie Hebdo attack. They didn’t “care” about Paris until last Friday night.

    What made them change their minds and suddenly start to “care” or become interested? Have a think about it.

    Frankly I AM interested in the logistical problems you and others face reporting. If you cannot report why not tell us WHY you cannot report? Explain the situation to us, we’ll understand, I can assure you. We, despite the impression you seem to have of us, are not stupid. Your logistical problems will give us a better insight into the area/country you are reporting from, why would you not understand that?

    I’d suggest you try not to lay a guilt trip on your viewers/readers about your dead colleagues. They knew the dangers and accepted them. Just as you do. Just as anyone doing a dangerous job does.

    And YES I know that many of the Paris dead were “non white” so don’t treat me or others as ignorant people or patronise us, it won’t endear you to anyone. Perhaps the fact that you do will tell you something about the reasons your viewers “turn off” when you report form various parts of the world. I’m yet to meet anyone that enjoys being patronised or talked down to.

    Your final comment seems to sum up your attitude to those daring to comment on or challenge the coverage of Paris etc. and speaks volumes about your thoughts about them/us, one of poorly disguised contempt. An underlying thread that seems to pervade all of this rather bitter and arrogant piece.

    If a movie doesn’t get many bums on seats is it the movie goers fault?
    If a newspaper doesn’t get a good circulation is it the readers fault?
    If a political party doesn’t win elections is it the voters fault?

    And if a TV news reporter cannot keep viewers during their reports is it the viewers fault? Have a think about t.

    Must go now as I hear there is a new skateboarding dog video that’s just been posted.

    Best wishes xxx

  32. Neil Freshwater says:

    I think people, including myself, become used to certain repeat goings on and begin to switch off. I don’t believe it is for lack of compassion, but it is human nature. Be it school/college shootings in the US or atrocities in the Middle East, they are becoming so recurrent we become more immune to the effects of the stories and switch off, as one incident blurs into another. I think the points have be made above, that things which are more close to home – personally, culturally or geographically – will always have a greater impact as we can identify. The comments have been made above, but we have come to expect where national security is poorer and nations more volatiles, atrocities in Africa and the Middle East. When it happens on our doorstep, we take notice. Don’t give up though. You can only take the water to the horse, but you cannot make it drink. So yes, it is our fault.

    1. Giulia says:

      I agree with you. And may I add, unfortunately it is hard to get worked up about scenarios which have been occurring with horrific regularity for the last 2,000 years.

  33. Elise Elderkin says:

    Lindsey, you and your colleagues aren’t howling in the dark, and it is very black… But I think many people have a low level of tolerance for other people’s pain and suffering. In addition, perhaps many in your audience feel powerless to make a difference. Signing petitions, going on demos, giving money to NGOs — all these things feel like drops in the huge bucket, they are drops in a bucket, as so many acts in our lives are; the thing is not to get discouraged and lose heart because we can’t do more. It might help to have a more responsive and humane government (don’t get me started…). But please, editorialise all you want, dear girl — we need people like you to fight against the forces of ignorance, insularity and bigotry!

  34. Davy Lane says:

    I agree with Lindsey here. The Whataboutery that drove the comparison between Beirut and Paris got tedious quickly.

    However, I remain troubled about most of the initial Beirut coverage. It generally served to eliminate empathy for the victims.

    First, the widespread references to “Hezbollah stronghold” or that this was “one terrorist organisation bombing another” made light of the victims in Bouj Al Barajneh and generally suggested they had it coming to them.

    Second – and this may have a whiff of the conspiratorial – but on the morning after when the media could have focussed on those who perished (photos and stories of the victims and injured were on Twitter) and on the reasons for and the potential ramifications of the attack, we were instead treated to a full Ginsburg of “Jihadi John” on every broadcast.

    The announcement of the apparent killing of the British Jihadi smacked of product placement and seemed to serve two purposes. First, distract viewers from the fact that innocent Lebanese civilians (who may or may not vote Hezbollah, Amal or for other Lebanese parties) were victims of terrorism. In short, deny them empathy. Second, inflate the relevance of NATO militaries at a time when Russian forces were grasping the Caliphate nettle.

  35. Josh says:

    This is an interesting post, but I think you are fundamentally misunderstanding the objection that has been levied at the media. The reporting media may cover stories such as Beirut as well – I don’t think anyone would say otherwise – but such events don’t generate the same media response. You can understand media response in a number of ways, whether it be the proliferation of opinion, op-ed etc. pieces that followed Paris in comparison to Beirut, or perhaps where those stories are placed in the pecking order of the media cycle (front page, first item on the nightly news, rolling ‘live’ coverage). So while you are correct that there is also reporting of events further afield, the manner in which they are presented to us by outlets such as Channel 4, BBC, Guardian, etc. etc. is vastly different. It’s not about reporting, it’s about representation and dissemination.

  36. Anne says:

    Lindsey –

    So thankful for your work – the insight and knowledge you bring to your reporting, the tough topics you handle – with nuance and steely grace.

  37. Stephen Yeung says:

    Thank you for all the work you have done.

  38. Trofim says:

    Human beings are so constituted, that they care more about those with whom
    they feel an affinity – cultural, geographic, genetic etc. Why do Muslims
    obsess about Palestine being occupied by Israel every minute of every day, but
    have not a word to say about Tibet being occupied by China? It’s simple:
    Muslims care about Muslims, and Tibetans aren’t Muslims.
    Is a citizen of Buenos Aires more likely to read the obituary column in the
    Worcester Evening News or La Nacion? Why do Greece and Cyprus give each other top marks in Eurovision, rather than Finland or Norway?
    This is a fundamental human trait to care more about some people than other
    people. It shouldn’t need to be pointed out. Anyone who claims to care equally about every one of the 7 billion or so people on the planet is a saint, a fool or a liar.

  39. Lyndsy says:

    If my student Habeeb is injured I am devasted; if my child is sick I am beside myself. If something is near to me, I find it easier to empathise. That is human nature. If I cut my thumb I feel it more keenly then I do an earthquake in China that kills thousands:[

  40. Loren Pechtel says:

    I think there are two reasons you’re rather howling in the dark.

    As Scott Malcomson said, we expect bombs in Beirut–it’s hardly news. To me there’s a bigger reason, though, that you even list in your article:

    There are also practical issues – South Beirut, where last Thursday’s bombing occurred, is controlled by Hizbollah, who rarely let journalists film and never freely. There’s no way the hundreds of journalists who descended on Paris would have been permitted to flood a Hizbollah area for days on end. But that’s just a logistical issue, not your problem.

    Why should we place much import on a news report that we know to be biased? (I’m not saying you’re biased, but rather that your sources are.) Such reports are little better than terrorist propaganda pieces.

  41. Tom Barwick says:

    since when did I have to like, post, blog your articles for this to work for you and the wider journalistic world. You write it I read it job done. Have some self respect you sound like a needy child wanting us all to validate your hard work with what would literally be ill informed comments etc. I am not a trained journalist and I don’t spend my whole working day and more absorbing the global zeitgeist. But at the same time I don’t wait for enough people to like my handy work before I stitch someone’s chest back up. It’s incredible that you are even admit to playing this petty numbers game of comparative statistics but that you choose to then write a sodding article about it just feels deeply deeply rubbish.

  42. Ian Cuthbert says:

    Some good points, but the point missing is the editorial priority given to different stories. A Beirut bomb would never get the top slot on C4 news, or a any other news show, unless there was some exceptional additional story involved (European or American victims perhaps).

    If we in Europe have become accustomed to bombs and mass killings in Beirut, Bagdad or Basra, that’s a story in itself and says much about our society AND our news media.

  43. Rob J says:

    It’s your job to report the news – not on how many people watch and/or read certain articles. Know your place ma’am!

  44. Ayesha says:

    You have a new follower in me! Plz keep up the good work

  45. Rod Challis says:

    I think there is a lot of truth in what you say. I also think that you are a real journalist and that colours your vision on what the public reads and doesn’t read. Maybe stories about celebrities get more reads than an event in, say, Kenya. But where does your editor put the Kenya story, where does he put the story (hopefully with as much cleavage as possible) about the celebrity? I’m not saying you are wrong, but I don’t think it’s as cut and dried as blaming a stupid public for what gets attention and what does not.

    There was an event here in Ontario, Canada, a few years back that gave me a peak behind the curtain. Someone “important” was involved in a road rage incident that resulted in the death of a cyclist. The “important” person was arrested– and used his one phone call not for a lawyer, but for a Public Relations company. And the tone of the news coverage changed *overnight*– on the CBC, our public broadcaster.

    Since then, I’ve kept an eye on how P.R. or “Strategy” companies have infiltrated print and broadcast media. And if this kind of corruption is rife in Canada (which I think it is) then it’s a fairly safe bet it’s rife elsewhere. And, those companies, acting on behalf of clients, are there to influence what gets covered and what does not. They are on current affairs shows at critical times in order to attempt to shape public opinion while it is still malleable.

    So, the problem is more than just people reading more stories about celebrities than events in far flung places.

    Going back to the first Gulf War, the one with Bush the Elder, remember the Babies in Incubators being removed by Iraqi soldiers story? I’m sure you know what I’m referring to.

    I read. Sometimes I read until I cry, believe it or don’t. Sometimes I read until I just can’t anymore. But I never know…….

  46. Hani says:

    Dear Lindsey,

    Thank you, as always, for your coverage of international affairs. My first port of call, for any news, home and abroad is C4 and The Guardian. Even when I’m away for work or on holiday. So thank you again to you and your colleagues.

  47. Judith Dunlop says:

    I do watch your reports. I have much admiration for you. The violence and atrocities that you report on seem remote to many of us – they are somewhere else. This is not. That is the horror of it. One french friend living in Australia described in as being like her home had been burgled. I feel for people in Africa and else where, as they are more vulnerable. They do not have the systems of protections that we have. Keep up the good work. Without it we would not be conscious of half the things that we are, however even native Africans need to look at skateboarding dogs. A Kenyan friend of mine posted a video of a penguin falling down. She was sick of it all and had many of the grievances that you have outlined in your article. She wanted to give the families of the victims privacy to grieve, however, when a place like Paris grieves, we all grieve with it. Its sad.

  48. Nancy says:

    I admire your reports so much.

    It seems to me the tv news is getting shorter these days, and less analytical. I blame the narrow reach of education in the UK for creating a public without the analytical mindset to consider and react.

    Thank you for your reports from Greece, and your kindness to my daughter, Meg, who was there same time as you.

  49. Mat says:

    Trying to pretend that humans don’t have a bias is ridiculous. We are all touched by the paris thing cos it happened over the pond.. to people and on streets that look not to dissimilar to ours.

  50. Alan Sandbrook says:

    Hi, just to let you know we watch C4 news all the time by satellite in France where we live. We both think that C4 news has a very good balance with excellent overall worldwide reporting. So we have seen the news about the Beirut bombings and we watch carefully the Lindsey Hilsum reports so please don’t change your overseas reporting policy.

  51. Andrew Kitchen says:

    I wouldn’t challenge the reporters but I would question the jaded editors and producers back home – over concerned/forced to be concerned about ratings rather than substance. It is also insane that main channels news is barely 30mins mid-evening – even US channels provide more time.

  52. Barbara thrift says:

    Hi Lindsay,

    I usually watch just Al Jazeera, and also RT. Having caught your report on 19th I shall keep a daily lookout for more of your reporting. Thank you .

  53. Amy says:

    Dear Lindsey,
    I wanted to add my voice to those admiring your work and that of Jon Snow.You are both brave , honest and full of integrity and your work and reporting is much appreciated.
    Please keep up the good work and don’t forget the terrible situation in Yemen which has been seriously under reported.

  54. Rhonda says:

    Rational and justification. You create what is relevant. You’re still not reporting atrocities, attacks, false accusations and manipulated fabrications. Really, it may be true that certain issues are more popular than others, but it is still the jouranlist’s job to make truth relevant. It is still your job to report lies when they are waged. It is still your job to reveal truths rather than to perpetuate easily digested lies. That a journalist leads with the most popular, rather than the most relevant, creates the world of media – not the other way around. There are myriads and decades of reality that refute your justification for cowardice.

  55. RuthAlice says:

    I saw the headline on the bombing in Beirut on the 12th. I did not click through to read the article because it said that ISIS attacked a Hezbollah stronghold and 43 were killed. It sounded like a military on military article. I know ISIS and Hezbollah are at odds since ISIS wants to kill all Shia – but individual military operations don’t catch my interest. From the headline, there was no way of knowing civilians were attacked. Feeling chagrined that i did not read the article after Paris, I went back and I looked and Reuters, the NYTimes, Haaretz, the Sydney Herals and who knows how many more who took the headline from Reuters framed it the same way. Some papers said ISIS attacked a stronghold another said bastion. SO NO, YOU DO NOT GET TO BLAME READERS FOR IGNORING AN ATTACK WHEN THE MEDIA FRAMES IT AS A MILITARY OPERATION.

  56. Gianni Morelenbaum Gualberto says:

    Taking a look at the biased way most of newspapers and tvs report about the Israeli victims (mostly defenseless civilians) of terrorism… a decent silence is better.

  57. anon says:

    Thank goodness Russia has intervened to stop IS,

    my prayers are with the families of their brave service people who have died so terribly

    the question here (if anyone has the courage), you will need this ! to question how much western intelligence services have known about the birth of, funding of etc of IS, who have known how this evil could be stopped, (easily) and why this has not taken place? if so action needs to be taken against all those concerned,

    but as I say you will need courage and a lot of luck, but God can make things happen, all will be well

    God Bless and thank you for the brave heart driven reporting by Channel 4 news who have clearly shown this evil from the start

  58. dancan says:

    Thank you, Channel Four News, and Lindsay for your reporting . I usually listen to BBC News followed by yours and learn much more about the world from Channel Four. Yes, I do feel compassion for the innocent victims of attrocities . It does not matter what colour the skin is, all the blood is red. I also admire Jon Snow’s questioning of people, forceful, but always polite.
    Please keep up the good work, I am sure you are much appreciated by a large silent following.

  59. Barclay Lane says:

    I often make a point of watching your reports because it’s you reporting. You’re that darn good. When Jon or whoever say “Lindsey Hilsum reporting from ….”, my ears prick up, and I start taking notice (if I’m not already).

    Simple as that.

  60. Alistair Borthwick says:

    Google “Israeli navy shells Palestinians” … there seems to be two stories; fishermen attacked, children on beach.

  61. leo says:

    It’s a very important question. Debate? I am sure, just as in any profession, any industry, any country, group etc., there are people of good intention and those less so. Why a journalist does what they do is attributable to a number of different reasons no doubt. I think no matter how genuine and dedicated a journalist is in pursuing worthy stories regardless of their geography, there are powerful forces that contribute to where these are positioned in the pagination pecking order. Money and Politics. News has to sell, it is a business and so its customers (the audience) and their tastes have to be factored in when deciding which stories are ‘worthier’. On the more serious theme of what is a ‘worthy victim’ or not, read Noam Chomsky’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’ for a striking and provocative account of how stories can be framed by the media, often in tow with a more nebulous political agenda.

  62. Ken Baker says:

    The dedication of many of our journalists is but a P in the ocean against the deluge of media stories designed to numb the mind. 90+% 0f UK TV is dedicated to rubbish the social media follows the same route. People spend their time creating pouting selfies that generally look hideous like some gargoyle from the 15th century hanging off a church wall.
    The media is owned and as such is used to manipulate for the benefit of the 1%. The real interest isn’t in global suffering or the creeping fungi of greed that will eventually consume us, unless we are the 1%. People don’t understand that the 9/11s the London bombings the Paris and all the other attacks are a result of actions of the 1% in their drive for more and more wealth.
    Occasionally we get a really good investigative report generally on C4 run by Snow & Co or close associate. You can name the people who really come across on the TV on two hands.
    The junk channels are far too many and C4, is there another available on UK tv, is outnumbered. The US is even worse off. Those that are interested in the real world get their info from the web. Perhaps that’s what Jeremy Hunt was doing in the house the other day, looking fro some real news, just for a change. We need too change the ration of real to rubbish more in favour of real to get the point across, and keep dripping it in. The UK and the US are destabilising the world and we are all REPEAT all going to pay the price very soon

  63. Linda Heiden says:

    Thank you, Lindsey, for this thoughtful and thought-provoking article which I have only just now found. I do not always agree with your analysis, but I hugely respect the effort you put into reporting from the Middle East. It is crucially important that this work continues, even if people do not comment much. I myself send in a comment perhaps once or twice a year at most, but pay huge attention to your reports. Indeed, one of the reasons my partner & I watch C4 News almost nightly is because you cover issues that often are ignored or or covered in a much less balanced way elsewhere.

    I appeal to you and your colleagues to use the same approach when it comes to coverage of Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour leadership. I was present for Corbyn’s 2 June 2016 major speech on Britain’s position in the EU, and was hopeful that Gary Gibbons’ presence meant C4 would cover it fairly. Corbyn made a strong, clear, well-argued case for remaining in the EU. But instead of reporting the substance of Corbyn’s speech (which was unambiguously for remaining in the EU), Gibbons implied that Corbyn has left voters confused about where Labour stands. Instead of reporting Corbyn’s key environmental, labour, economic and human rights arguments, he belittled the speech for beginning with a discussion of bees and beaches, despite the way Corbyn used these topics to underline fundamental environmental issues demonstrating the importance of remaining in the EU. Instead of providing fair coverage of this important event, it was juxtaposed to a report on Boris’ bumbling attempts to auction a cow! Do Boris’ ridiculous antics really deserve more serious treatment than a major speech by the leader of the Labour Party?!

    I am deeply dismayed that Channel 4 news has chosen to join in, rather than challenge, the undemocratic, hugely biased reporting of Corbyn and his wing of the Labour Party. For the first time in a generation, Britain has a real choice between two very different political leaderships. Reports such as these serve only to obscure and belittle Corbyn and his team. Labour Party members remain solidly behind Corbyn because we know about his policies and principled commitment to ordinary people. Overwhelmingly, it is unfair, biased reporting that is most responsible for the public’s confusion over where Labour stands. Please bring C4’s reporting on Corbyn and his team & policies up to the fair and unbiased standard which the British public deserves and for which C4 otherwise is respected.

  64. Alan Simpson says:

    I have always had the idea that Saddam Hussein’s crimes were significantly restrained after 1991 compared to the earlier period when the UK and US chose to ignore him.
    Surely if he had to be removed 1991 would have been an infinitely better time than 2003.

  65. Ruth Cuthbert says:

    Sorry, but having only just read this, I’m afraid it did come across as too defensive, and too retaliatory. Presumably you agree somewhat that they did have a point, about equal coverage, so why so defensive? And if I do want mostly to watch skateboarding cats, so what? Are you accusing your readers of hypocrisy? Well come out and say it then, don’t just insinuate! Actually, there’s another reason that certain articles don’t get much of a “share” or “repost” – it’s that some of us do care about offending others who may not wish to see anything more offensive than skateboarding cats. But that’s not a reflection on me and my personal wish to see, read, find out. I wish to see it but not share (sometimes). That’s not hypocrisy. Give us the choice to see/find out/share – or not, as we choose – anything else is just slanted news/ censorship.

  66. Peter Barjonas says:

    Why is the term ‘war crimes’ little mentioned now. Are Putin and Assad just too important to be associated with this little dirty phrase?

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