TRIGGER WARNING: this post contains information about the Christchurch terrorist attack.
Whilst sitting in my MGNT102 lecture on Friday, I admittedly was having a quick scroll on Twitter when I came across the devastating news of the Christchurch terrorist attack. I sat in complete shock for the rest of the lecture, and that day. Today (Sunday), even as I write this, it still doesn’t seem real. 50 confirmed dead and many more injured in what can only be described as a horrific act of white supremacist terrorism. My heart goes out to the victims, their whanau and friends, New Zealand, and the Muslim community around the world.
Originally, I had planned to write this blog post about my experiences as a member of an audience to concerts and music festivals, but that simply did not feel right after what had taken place on Friday. The past few days have emphasised to me the major role media plays in tragic events like this, and how we, as an audience, influence it.
It has been hard to miss the constant bombardment of information seeping through our televisions, phones, computers, conversations and radios over the past 48 hours. It has contained floods of love and support for the Muslim community and victims, and heartbreaking news updates. It has also contained the complete opposite. Racist opinions and hate speech also leaked into our news and social media sites. The world, as an audience to the media, have watched on with intrigue and disgust.
From a national perspective, I was infuriated when Australian Senator Fraser Anning excused the terrorist act. I could go on for days about how predominant figures using their platform to spread xenophobic views are a major reason as to why attacks like Christchurch take place.
However, I was glad to see I was part of a majority of the media audience when (as of 4:21pm Sunday 17th March) over 856,000 people had signed a www.change.org petition titled, ‘Remove Fraser Anning from parliament’. Australia’s new “national treasure”, known as “Egg Boy”, also gave many people watching the media intently a reason to smile in a dark time as he cracked an egg over Senator Anning’s head during a live interview.
Overall, with the attack happening so close to home, and the way it has deeply affected such a large amount of people worldwide, it has highlighted to me the role in which we, as an audience of national and international media, impact the way in which news is shared. Our varying values and ethics as an audience influence our reactions to events, and what we decide to support or speak out against. We shape the media. It is our responsibility to take action against discrimination within it.
I would like to end this post with some words Osman Faruqi posted to his Twitter page in the wake of the Christchurch attack:
“ I feel so sad. We begged you to stop amplifying and normalising hatred and racism. But you told us we were ‘politically correct’ and ‘freedom of speech’ was more important. The more you gave the far-right a platform, the more powerful they got. We begged you.” – https://twitter.com/oz_f
Kia Kaha, Christchurch.
DISCLAIMER: I refuse to promote the agenda white supremacists try to spread through media, so certain names and information are missing from this blog post. I’m not sure this really counts as a disclaimer but I would just like to say that we as an audience to the media need to stop allowing racists to have a platform. We are all responsible. Speak up if you know something isn’t inclusive. If you excuse racism and xenophobia committed in any form, you are part of the problem. Any comments on this page featuring hate speech will be deleted.