I debated whether to write about this issue or not for the better part of the last few hours, but the response by Lebanese media to the Istanbul attacks, especially with regards to the Lebanese who fell victim to them, is disgusting and horrifying and should not be accepted any day longer or repeated in any way in any coverage in 2017.
In a terrorist attack on a night club in Istanbul, an abomination of a human being dressed as Santa opened fire and killed 39 people, injuring more than 60 others. Of those 100 people, around 13 are Lebanese as per initial estimates. Of those Lebanese, three have been confirmed to have passed away so far: Elias Wardini, Rita Chami and Haykal Moussallem.
Lebanon’s three victims were visiting Istanbul, like many Lebanese, thinking it was a safe place for them ring in the new year. They were there with friends, loved ones, hoping for the last moments of 2016 and the first of 2017 to bring them the happiness they were seeking out on that dance-floor.
Elias and Rita were enjoying the Istanbul snow together only hours before tragedy struck.
It’s heartbreaking how uncertain and fickle our existence as people and as Lebanese is.
Fewer things are as tragic as this: to fall victim to acts of terror, to have your death be analyzed a hundred thousand times fold, to be called a “martyr” in an attempt to normalize the horror to which Elias, Rita and Haykal were victims, and since this is Lebanon, to have your death become a national circus for your country’s media to bring in as many viewers and ad money as they possibly could.
Elias was a personal trainer. He was engaged, to be married. He was 26.
Rita was one of my close friend’s best friends. Her mother, who also happens to be her best friend had recently passed away after a tough battle with cancer. Rita had left her studies in Radio and TV to be by her mother’s side.
Haykal Moussallem was a married man, and a physical fitness trainer for many of Lebanon’s basketball teams. He was currently Tadamon’s trainer.
Elias Wardini, Rita Chami and Haykal Moussallem, I didn’t know you but I know many of your friends, and they all loved you so. May you all rest in peace, and may your family find solace in you being loved by so many this much.
Elias, Rita and Haykal were actual people. They loved, were loved. They tried to thrive, to build their lives, to reclaim things they had lost. That is a concept that is escaping Lebanese TV stations as they treat Elias, Rita and Haykal as nothing more than push notification entities to get traffic to their websites, sensational stories to get viewers to their channels and click-baits to drive ad money on their websites.
Dear Lebanese TV stations, let me copy paste the rant I’ve already written about you with its many expletives before I elaborate further:
Lebanese TV stations are so fucking unprofessional. How despicable can you get to go to the houses of Istanbul’s victims, film their families receiving the news of their passing, asking them all kinds of ridiculous questions. How the fuck do you think they’re feeling? Are they happy? Do you think I want to see people receiving the worst news of their lives? Fuck you.
It started with them spreading fake news, giving false hope to Elias Wardini’s family that he was safe and sound, without any basis, without fact checking it, without giving a shit how false hope is as devastating in instances such as this as knowing the truth:
They also did the same with Haykal Moussallem. Please note that both fake stories are the same; Haykal and Elias had jumped into the water:
When it was clear that Elias Wardini did not make it, they set up camp in the middle of his family’s house, filmed them receiving the news of his passing, filmed Elias’ sister receiving the shock of her life and reacting to it as she learned her brother was no more, made the father of the victim cry on national TV, interviewed politicians who couldn’t wait for their moment in the spotlight in the middle of the family’s house.
The more news about more victims surfaced, the more they sought out their sensationalism. More houses were visited. More devastated family members were asked “how they felt,” as if they would answer anything other than “heartbroken.” More interpretation by all knowing news hosts, anchors and reporters were thrown at us about how those families were dealing, coping, and receiving the news.
It’s as if they’re not aware that those that passed away and those that are in critical conditions are people with loved ones and friends who are worried about them. It’s as if they don’t know, based on our previous experiences with the horror we’ve experienced on our soil, how devastating such events could be, let alone have them take place on what should be joyful celebratory days. It’s like they’re not aware of the theatrics they are doing, the reality TV show they’re turning those families’ lives into as they’ll never be whole again, as they’ll never look at New Year’s Day the same once more.
It doesn’t stop there, but even after PM Saad Hariri personally asked Lebanese TV stations to stop their coverage from the houses of the victims, MTV’s reporters not only refuse to do so but call on the Red Cross on live TV to come to the victims’ houses because some of their family members had fainted from the news. Don’t they have a phone they could call from? Or an ounce of dignity they wanted to preserve by not pretending to play heroes on national TV?
That wasn’t the end of it. Our media tried to play the role of the only heroes in this affair, with them being the only entity fighting for our Lebanese victims. Fighting how? With the charade they were airing. Meanwhile, our government was on top of things with a plane being sent with medical equipment to bring back our countrymen home, have all their medical expenses paid for, and have MEA issue free tickets to Istanbul for all families involved.
My heart breaks on this first day of the year ten folds. It breaks because my country is, once again, at the heart of an international tragedy. It breaks for Rita, Elias and Haykal, for all the potential they had, for all the love they gave those that loved them, for all the hope they had and all the days they had in front of them. It breaks for their families, who are as broken as this country on this horrifying morning.
And throughout those breaks, I can’t but be disgusted at how our media handle – and always handle – our national losses. We are not material for you to get money. We are not sources for you to be sensational. We are not faceless names you call martyrs to rouse emotions. We are people. We have lives. We have families. We deserve privacy. We deserve some dignity. And you, dear media, deserve a big fat: fuck you.
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Thank you for writing this….I saw some sensationalist headlines on fb from the same media you mentioned….very disrespectful!
Reblogged this on Histoire militaire du Moyen-Orient.
Had enough of justification from medias after every dreadful event. They keep repeating the same unprofessional behavior with lack of transparency when reporting news.
I will boycott these two stations by uninstalling their app, stop any connection with their social media presence and restrict myself from watching their programs.
My exact feelings watching these stations: Cashing in.
Thank you for writing this. Good piece!
Thank you for this vent at how hideous media are in face of tragedy. Sadly here the story is just a blip on TV before the cricket or tennis get reported except for SBSTV coverage. When I heard the news I was struck by the ‘before’ moment – when people from all over were dancing up a storm in one of the most beautiful cities in the world. I grieve I pray for families & survivors.
RIP for all the 39 victims that passed away in the attacks of Turkey, including the 3 Lebanese people, unfortunately our culture has become to cash in on every single event when ever the opportunity presents itself without any regard to the feelings & thoughts of others….Selfishness and disregard for others has become the norm( in every single aspect of daily life of the Lebanese including tragic crisis as the above ) & compassion and ethical behavior is considered to be the exception….
Our media’s main role is to depress the LEBANESE people instead of helping us
Gain confidence in Lebanon and indirectly driving our young minds away
Agree with you how they have no shame
Our lives are just a big soap opera to them
strange enough, you have ads on this page.. this doesn’t mean i don’t agree with you, but start with yourself
Are you serious? Did you even click on “why these ads” to see that they’re actually there because I’m on a free blogging plan and that WordPress puts them there so that THEY can make money?
I can’t get over a shot in a video I saw which and was filmed at the Wardini house. The father lying down in bed devastated broken and weeping. How is it acceptable to film and air such a scene? Have they got no heart? We have absolutely no right to see such footage.
Did anyone notice the comment made by @chanklich in the first picture?!!
I can’t believe that kind of “people” exist!!!
i did…. he’s an asshole
My heart goes out to all the 39 who lost their lives in such a senseless way. I totally echo your sentiments. My country has experienced terrorist attacks. The worst was the 2013 Westgate Siege. Gunmen walked into an upmarket mall in Nairobi and began shooting indiscriminately. Among the dead was our current president’s nephew and his fiancee.
You would have expected the media to be more sensible in the aftermath. However the very next day, one of the major newspapers put a very disturbing picture of a woman screaming in pain as the front page. There was outrage and I couldn’t even look at the photo myself so I threw that page of the newspaper. You would think it would end there. Media outlets continue airing unsensored clips of a security guard who hid behind the giant elephant synonymous with Nakumatt outlets in Kenya being short to death by the terrorists.
By then, the president had had enough and he called out the media for it. At least nowadays, gory images are never aired on our screens and the media acts sensible.
This media sensationalism is wrong. Totally wrong. We don’t want to see the devastation of families that have just lost loved ones in a terror attack. That is not acceptable. It is totally inhumane and careless.
Chapeau ! Very well said
I feel very sorry for this horrible loss and God becwith the families of those victims. It is pity to see how the Lebanese TV stations continue to awfully handle the situation same as they always do. I recall couple of years ago how redicously one of TV stations justified the airing of Murex D’or rediciulous Awards show after a bombing hit one of the Lebanese region under the slogan “We feel sorry for the big losses happened yesterday but lufe must go on and tonight celebration is a proof that life must continue”.
They did the same with families of victims by playing nationalism and issuing fake news to give false hopes.
But on the other hand, I have a small blame to families of victims as well, they should prevent the media from entering their properties and making all this drama by claiming that no one has the right to interfere their privacy. And the strangest scene was one of the victims sister who welcomed every tv station and how she prepares herself to share all her emotions and memories related to her brother with almost a full make up then claiming for having careless politicians and mixing politics with this tragedy.
Actually when I opened the tv this lady was talking and I couldn’t figure out what was happening if it was not mentioned below over the walking red ribbon, then same lady appeared on another tv station and telling same stories and crying for help from the president and the careless ministers, who I guess were doing their job to send a MEA plane with full medical equipments.
All these were repeated in the night news and how the minister of tourism informed the families and the tragedy that started after that.
Yesss, the media had fucked up disrespectfuly by making scenes to get ridiculous scoopes bit we should be careful as well.
Who the f*** you are to use such tone in your writings ? Aren’t you doing worst than those you are actually accusing ? Aren’t you revealing the private life if the same losses ? Shut the f*** up and pray for the martyrs.
Breaking news: The English language commits suicide.
Hahahaha!! Spot on!
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Media worldwide do the same in such events, they try to penetrate privacies, focus on silly details, deal very often with false information, use psychological approaches to generate drama, and engage audience emotions to grab maximum attention and increase station viewership. Lebanese media is no difference, they are smart too. I believe, you just need to know more about media.
Brilliantly said. Just brilliant. Made my tears become waterfalls! May Rita, Elias and Haykal rest in heaven.
Well said..the way they dealt with this terrorist attack was horrible..no more humanity in this world ..may the victims’ souls rest in peace. 😞
I’m neither with you nor the media. You talk of unprofessional while you exercise profanity. And what do you call your article? Isn’t it for attention as well? Hypocrisy. If you were disgusted then you need not to write an article. Rather write to the government to do something. However, I would like to bring to your attention that the media would not have been able to cover inside the homes of the victims if they were not invited to do so. You should know by now that this generation is all about exposing all their personal life. So please don’t talk of stuff before getting facts and when you want to correct something like this you don’t go about doing it the same way the media did.
Great piece. Thank you for sharing.