Should Media Include Terrorists In Casualty Figures?

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Following yesterday’s terrorist attack in London, different media outlets reported the number of casualties differently.

Five Dead in London Terror Incident” said the Independent, while Al Jazeera ran with “Westminster attack: Five killed outside UK parliament.”

Other outlets chose to list the attacker separately, and did not include his death in their headline.

There is also confusion over the number of dead, with the Times of Israel reporting that the death toll was three. “Three people dead, suspect killed in London terror attack targeting Parliament and Westminster Bridge” was the headline in the New York Post.

London attack: Four dead in Westminster terror attack” was the BBC headline, which included the terrorist in the number of people killed.

Apart from the confusion caused by different outlets reporting different figures, there is a moral issue here. Clarion Project does not include terrorists in the death tolls from attacks, because we feel that it draws a moral equivalence between the perpetrator and their victims. Others feel that all loss of life should be reported in the figure, regardless of who died.

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Elliot Friedland

Elliot Friedland is a research fellow at Clarion Project.