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Sunday, 31 July 2011

Norway's mass murder and the mass media

When news of a bomb blast and shooting first broke in Norway, media organisations the world over were quick to suggest that the people behind the attacks were Islamic terrorists. Even when the facts were hazy, security experts 'analysed', editorials speculated and front pages questioned why Islamic groups would want to attack Norway.

Then, when the perpetrator turned out to be a white, anti–Muslim Christian, news outlets were quick to replace the word terrorist with extremist.

Once the initial coverage calmed down, questions arose: Why were news organisations so quick to assume who was guilty? Is it just a by-product of a 24-hour news cycle? Is there a global news narrative that makes one group guilty until proven innocent? In our News Divide this week, we look at how speculation replaced facts and what the coverage of mass murder says about mass media.

In our News Bytes this week: CNN host Piers Morgan hits back at allegations that he knew about phone tapping when he was the editor of the UK's Daily Mirror; Murdoch publications criticise the media coverage of the phone tapping scandal; journalists in Ecuador are jailed for libel after accusing President Correa of crimes against humanity in a newspaper column; and Online talk show host turned MSNBC anchor, Cenk Uygur leaves the network for political reasons.

As the UK's phone hacking scandal rumbles on, the spotlight remains firmly on the beleaguered News Corp chairman Rupert Murdoch. But few know the media mogul as well as his biographer Michael Wolff. Wolff recorded some 60 hours of interviews, gaining a precious insight into how Murdoch runs his media empire and how editorially involved he gets in the day to day decisions.

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