Media Mashup: November 20, 2015

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People light candles where two bombs exploded in Beirut, the day before the Paris attacks, killing more than 40 people.

Why Paris Makes News and Beirut Does Not

Columbia Journalism Review reports on why the Beirut bombing, which occurred on the day before the Paris attacks, got such little attention by the media.

“The Friday attacks in Paris that killed more than 120 left many American news organizations racing to get pieces in place for wall-to-wall coverage over the weekend. The story still dominated The New York Times’ front page on Monday, with four stories exploring various angles of the ISIS-planned strikes, their aftermath in France, and global ramifications. But it was a piece on an ISIS attack Thursday in Lebanon, tucked on page A6, that garnered more than 210,000 shares on social media by Tuesday, five times more than the four Paris-related stories combined.”

Here is an observation from an international journalist: “The first suicide bombing—in a market, in a capital city, in a school—was international news. In order for the next bombing to make a story, the number of dead had to be exponentially higher. I tried to pin down a ratio: how many Pakistani or Afghan dead would it take to generate the same newsworthiness as the death of an American?”

Unfortunately from my experience as a reporter in the Middle East, her analysis is on the mark.

For more, see

Voters Oppose Syrian Immigration

President Obama says the Syrian refugees he hopes to move here are no more dangerous than tourists. The governors of more than two dozen states, citing the links between those refugees and the weekend massacres in Paris, aren’t convinced and have asked the president not to settle them in their states.

Sixty percent (60%) of Likely U.S. Voters oppose the settling of Syrian refugees in the state where they live, according to the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Just 28% favor their state taking in those refugees. Eleven percent (11%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

The president is still planning to admit 10,000 Syrian refugees into this country next year with more to follow, but only 23% favor allowing those refugees to come here at all. Sixty-three percent (63%) oppose Obama’s plan, while 14% are undecided.

In early September when the president first announced that the United States will take in up to 10,000 Middle Eastern migrants to help alleviate the illegal immigration crisis besetting Europe, 36% favored the plan, and 50% were opposed.

Seventy-seven percent (77%) of voters are now concerned that giving thousands of Syrians asylum poses a national security risk to the United States, with 52% who are Very Concerned. This marks even more concern than voters expressed two months ago. Just 21% don’t share that concern now, but that includes only seven percent (7%) who are Not At All Concerned.

Christopher Harper is a longtime journalist, who reported in Europe and the Middle East. He teaches media law and international journalism. Send suggestions and tips to


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