Airing IS: A Question of Broadcast Ethics
by Gino Fanelli | published Mar. 17th, 2015
What is most apparent from these tapes is that the Islamic State group is theatrical. Using high-end recording equipment and shots that are clearly narrated by an off-screen direction and accompanied by a soundtrack, the videos released by the Islamic State group are a far cry from the grainy, sloppily-dubbed tapes produced by Al-Qaeda during the early days of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts. These are produced not solely as mission statements directed towards world leaders, but as public tapes meant to invoke fear as much as they are to recruit. This begs the question: if these are the intents of these videos, should western broadcast companies give them a platform for airing?
The answer is yes, definitively. Uncensored, in their full length, with labels of identification for the victim.
It's entirely understandable that a lot of people reading this are likely upset by that idea. Why would we give these assholes exactly what they want by plastering these videos through every corner of our media? The answer to that is simple: yes, the Islamic State group does want these videos aired and they do want the world to fear them, but the alternative of ignoring these videos is a far worse option for the public.
Not acknowledging what the Islamic State group is doing in its entirety is belittling to the atrocities that are happening in the Middle East and an option by the Western media to impose willful ignorance on the
Let it be clear that the Islamic State group is an incessant, malignant tumor on the planet. They provide nothing but destruction and regression from modern society and promote nothing but terror and a bastardized concept of religion. But if we are to hide what they do, if we are to censor the videos or not play them altogether, we are willingly putting our heads in the sand. We can't close our eyes, plug our ears and sing "lalala" until the Islamic State group goes away. In fact, ignoring them will likely increase their action, making it so we physically can not ignore them any longer. Not acknowledging what the Islamic State group is doing in its entirety is belittling to the atrocities that are happening in the Middle East, and an option by the Western media to impose willful ignorance on the masses. Yes, it's dark, it's graphic and it will likely only fuel hatred and disgust toward the Islamic State group, but hatred and disgust are the only feelings it deserves, and that pairing is leaps and bounds greater than apathy.
But what of recruits? Could airing the videos give more motivation for westerners to join the ranks of the Islamic State group? Yes, probably. But, and I cannot stress this enough, the group's recruiting strategies are fucking beyond-words stupid. The Islamic State group recruits women by posting pictures of their sexiest jihadis and by using pick-up lines like "You're so beautiful, now's the time to start covering your beauty because you're so precious." That's not even a joke, that is an actual quote from a female Islamic State group recruit describing the Facebook messages she received from a recruiter at the age of 16. She traveled to Syria to meet him and join the group's ranks.
This means that those particularly targeted for recruitment are often weak, extremely naive youth, with the Islamic State group preying on their disillusionment and need for a sense of purpose.
Now, virtually every military on the planet does something to target youth recruits looking for an identity. The Islamic State group, of course, is a new extreme. However, the shrouding of the group's true actions in mystery by the mainstream media only further perpetuates their ability to infiltrate social media, as they've been doing. In other words, if we're to ignore the atrocities they commit, if we refuse to blatantly show our citizens on a mass scale what these people stand for, we are putting the task of image into the hands of the Islamic State group themselves.
In short, fuck the Islamic State group and fuck everything they stand for — and it is the task of broadcast journalists to show western citizens exactly what it is they stand for.