Several French news organisations have said they will no longer publish photographs of people responsible for terrorist killings, to avoid bestowing “posthumous glorification”.
Le Monde published an editorial after the latest attack, the murder of an elderly priest in a church near Rouen by two men claiming allegiance to Islamic State. Under the headline “Resisting the strategy of hate”, Le Monde argued on Wednesday that all elements of society had to be involved in the struggle against terrorism, and that media organisations had a special role to play.
“The sites and newspapers that produce this information cannot excuse themselves from self-examination on several fronts. Since Isis terrorism first appeared, Le Monde has changed its practices several times,” the newspaper said.
It first chose not to republish images from Isis propaganda documents. Then, after the attack in Nice on 14 July, when a truck drove through crowds enjoying the Bastille Day public holiday, Le Monde said it had decided to “no longer publish photographs of the perpetrators of killings, to avoid the potential effect of posthumous glorification”.
At first blush, this seems like something that should have been done a long time ago. Even sensible moves can be twisted into negatives when in the wrong hands, though.
In the United States, the media usually work as mouthpieces for the very politicians who like to whitewash terror attacks. The longer they can avoid reporting specifics about the terrorists, the longer they can keep their dangerous game of make-believe going after each attack. It would be nice if that were a stretch, but we all know it’s not.
If applied responsibly, this would be a policy put in place for all killers who want to go out in a blaze of glory, terrorist or not. Again though, that can give media types more interested in narrative than truth more wiggle room on motive when the attacks are terrorist related.
Trust me, I’d love to not be this cynical.
Still, if the reduced shot at “posthumous glorification” gives even one of these murderers pause and that pause is enough to get him caught, it’ll be worth it.