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What’s with all the horrifying details?

Media sensationalism in serial killer case points to how foreigners are being treated

Eleni Xenou

Eleni Xenou

The most shocking aspect was not so much the discovery of the little girl’s body as it was actually the way we take part and become a part one way or another in this sensationalism of human pain.

And this goes back to the Police department’s leadership who do not see fit to filter the information they share with the public (at least through a communications specialist) and gets worse with those know-it-all journalists who make sure they can add sprinkles on the horrific details of a crime in order to sell a story. As if the story needed that extra piece of information to have value and substance, when it came down to the exact condition in which the body of the young child was found.

And later, of course, all this sensationalism - whether in the name of compassion or just for having “something to talk about” - gets amplified on social media where users go to vent by typing in their sadness, disdain, and entire online rage without any of this proving whether or not this horrific crime forced us to come to terms with some serious problems in our society.

These problems may have come to the surface by our gendarmerie leaders but at the time they washed out with the help of our hypocrisy in how we treat foreigners who live among us. And by foreigners I don’t mean those well-to-do investors to whom we take a bow. I am referring to those economic migrants whom everyone views as second class citizens, whether we do this consciously or unconsciously.

Our shortcomings have been embedded in our psyche and this makes us incapable of rescuing little girls from the hands of psychopaths

And so the issue is not whether a psychopathic killer will face justice and get punishment but how we, as a society, can identify our failures through such a big-scale despicable crime. Because our shortcomings have been embedded in our psyche and this makes us even incapable of rescuing little girls from the hands of such psychopathic individuals.

Has it already been two months of daily searches and media coverage by the day of every single horrific piece of information regarding the murders and what precisely had transpired? It almost looked like a toss-up when the justice minister ultimately stepped down, not because he understood his responsibility but because the ruling party couldn’t afford to lose more votes ahead of the elections. But it wasn’t even a toss-up for the Police, who not only did they not bear the serious consequences but in fact tried to come out on top. And then our president made sure to put an end to the absurdity and our shortcomings by offering an apology to the families of the victims “even if they were foreigners” as he famously said!

And so we had the recovery of the body of the little girl that would come to ignite a new and unbearable lightness of being cycle, as far as this very serious and tragic event was concerned. The police spokesperson describes the exact condition of the little girl’s body and the fire department’s operations chief shows he is content saying “praise God that everything went well.” And journalists grab their chance to relay this news while faithfully executing the reality TV format, all the while feeding into the curiosity of the public and at the same time showing exactly how low unfortunately the media are willing to sink.

Why do you think dear colleagues that a description is newsworthy of the condition in which the body found? Why is it newsworthy to say how the body was wrapped and bound? Why do you believe that these things add something to the information given to the public?

Apparently it is more important to sell a story rather than strike the issue at its core. And the core of the issue is that this crime continues to hold us accountable and guilty as a society and as a state, because we have failed to protect the victims they way we should. And we didn’t protect them because we are preoccupied with our own lack of culture and being afraid of our shadows, that we ended up seeing them as second class citizens.


The article was first published by Kathimerini Cyprus on 16 June 2019

Cyprus  |  Eleni Xenou  |  police  |  murder  |  serial killer  |  media  |  migration  |  human rights  |  society  |  journalism  |  media

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