World, Europe

Terror in Germany: Media blasted for biased reporting

Mainstream media outlets widely come under fire in social media for failing to call Hanau shootings ‘racist terror’

21.02.2020
Terror in Germany: Media blasted for biased reporting

BERLIN

Germany’s mainstream newspapers and TV channels are widely criticized in social media for unprofessional and biased reporting following the racist terror attack in Hanau.

A 43-year-old far-right extremist attacked two shisha cafes and killed nine people with migration background on Wednesday night, and posted a manifesto on the internet detailing his racist views and plans for ethnic cleansing.

But soon after the attack, mass-selling newspaper Bild’s video portal aired various speculations on its website, claiming that the shootings were highly likely related to organized crime or the Russians.

Several media outlets quoted a police spokesperson who reportedly said that the shootings could be related to family or relationship problems, as the victims were people with migration background, and once again quickly ruled out racism as a possible motive.

German weekly magazine Focus labelled the incident as “Shisha murders”, sparking an outrage among social media users, who accused the media outlet for reproducing prejudices and racist thought patterns.

Upon criticisms, the weekly revised the headline of its story on its website, Hanau shocked: First pictures after bloodbath.

Twitter user @Peter_Jelinek sharply criticized the coverage of both Bild and Focus, and stressed that these should be a lesson for the whole media organizations for covering racist terror attacks.

“Never do it like #BILDLive. Never do it like FOCUS,” he tweeted.

“Stick to the facts, stay calm, report objectively” he stressed.

Sebastian Köhler @sebkoe, a university professor and freelance journalist, criticized public broadcaster ARD’s news portal tagesschau24 for downplaying the significance of the racist attack, with a headline “Several killed in shootings in shisha bars in Hanau.”

Although prosecutors confirmed on Thursday that the perpetrator acted with “xenophobic motives” and that they were treating the case as a “terrorist attack”, many TV channels refrained from labelling the shootings as a racist terror attack.

Welt news channel used the headline, “11 dead in bloodbath in Hanau” during its coverage on Thursday, blurred the face of the attacker and referred to him as only Tobias R.

Endstation Rechts, a news portal monitoring neo-Nazi groups, criticized media organizations for reporting that the perpetrator had “hostility towards foreigners.”

“When you are talking about the motive of the #Hanau attacker, please do not refer to it as “xenophobia” or hostility towards foreigners”, but call it simply racism,” the group said on Twitter.

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