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A look at 2015 so far

Coleman_BeatingBokoHaram

 

2015 has so far seen the media dominated by one particular event, the Islamist attacks in Paris that left 17 dead. This single act of terror has united millions around the world. World leaders from around the globe attended the march through Paris that commemorated the dead, while the solidarity displayed under the banner of ‘Je suis Charlie’ was embraced as a global symbol. However, this has not been the only attack of its kind in 2015. In fact, it was nowhere near the deadliest. Not even close. To find the most devastating Islamist terror attack of this year you have to look to Baga, Nigeria.

As many as 2,000 people were killed when Boko Haram seized Baga. The deadliest attack the group has ever carried out. Boko Haram has already had exposure in the mainstream media; it made headlines around the world when kidnapping 276 schoolgirls, so it is strange that this event was not covered more. The ‘Bring Back Our Girls’ campaign attracted a global following, showing that people around the world do care deeply about events in other countries, if they are made aware that they are happening.

It is understandable that events in France would be of wider interest than those in Nigeria. The proximity of France means it is obviously more of a security concern, while it has a very similar culture and very similar problems to the UK. It has a similar mix of religious, ethnic and social backgrounds, in addition to a similar sized economy and level of international power. Brits are far more likely to have visited France or to have dealt with a French business than they are with Nigeria. However, the sheer scale of the attack in Nigeria was the most notable difference between the two attacks. In any case, the need for media coverage goes beyond personal interest.

The Paris attacks captured the attention of the entire world and rightly so, but the Baga attack just simply did not get the attention it needed. The reason I see this as a problem is the importance of the media in covering these events. These sorts of attacks have a huge influence on both the domestic and the foreign policy that our government will take. If the public is to hold politicians to account for these decisions, they need to be well informed of all the complexities of the issues at hand.