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Transformation in channels of news delivery and the ascendence of the blogger-reporter raise challenges for citizens and the Republic. The JUST Journalsim Section examines the nascent obligations of those who shape public opinion and purvey "news" in emerging media.

Marty PerlmutterPatricia Mendoza


Media Influence: The Mohamed Merah Affair

Corine Ganem
April, 2012

After the shock caused by the Toulouse shooting on March 19, 2012, the unanimous reaction was solidarity with the Jewish victims' families.  This attack was soon proved to be connected with the slaying of three French paratroopers, who were Muslims, while a fourth soldier, from Guadeloupe, was left in coma.  Silent, dignified marches took place in Toulouse and Paris, with banners that read: "In France, they shoot Blacks, Jews, and Arabs."  

Pundits keep debating how Merah could have reached this point. Did recent fictional works–"La désintégration", which describes the rise of radical Islam in the suburbs; "Les hommes de l'ombre", which starts with a terrorist plot during the French Presidential election campaign–play a part in Merah's thinking?

Mohammed Merah claimed that he had sought revenge for France's military involvement in Afghanistan, and for the murder of Palestinian children by Israeli forces. He confided having watched on TV news about the shooting rampage in Afghanistan, the previous week. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict being also a major theme in the French media, he may well have been comforted in his beliefs by the coverage of such controversial issues.

Real-time broadcasting leaves us little time to think critically. The information conveyed or withheld shape our world vision. Was Merah a loser, or a monster? Was he manipulated? Who helped him edit the film sent to Al-Jazeera? All these questions are voiced on websites, blogs, and Twitter, expressing a healthy skepticism, sometimes exposing contradictions and lies in mainstream media. Out of these multiple voices, some truth may emerge. 

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