Perspectives | Media

Violence is not a media spectacle

By - 22.01.2024

K2.0’s editorial stance regarding recent media coverage.

On January 20, it was reported that 18-year-old Lulzim Fejzullahu died at the University Clinical Center of Kosovo from injuries he received after two boys hit him with a car and then brutally beat him. When covering this event, some Kosovar media outlets were quick to reveal details about the families of those involved, the neighborhood, names, surnames and the backgrounds of the two suspects, who are reportedly minors.

This media exposure culminated when a video of the murder being committed was released by several online media outlets, on national television and social networks.

The coverage that flooded in sensationalized Fejzullahu’s murder, bringing us back to the murder of Liridona Ademaj in November 2023. Naim Murseli, the deceased’s husband, is a suspect in her murder. The media coverage of Ademaj’s murder was problematic — there were irrelevant interviews, comments from people unrelated to the case, videos from her wedding, video montages of her photos and conspiracy theories.

Rather than upholding the standards of professional journalism, the media coverage of Ademaj’s case and Fejzullahu’s case was a competition for clicks and views. Many media outlets rushed to be the first to captivate readers and viewers with headlines, speculations and private details to satisfy the readers’ curiosity. In doing so, they moved away from the fundamental purpose of journalism: serving the public interest.

Such media reporting not only fails to meet the standards of the journalistic Code of Ethics but also turns tragic events into a spectacle. This reporting does not respect the privacy of the families involved or the integrity of the victims.

The Code of Ethics forms the basis of the journalism profession and is voluntarily adhered to by all media outlets that are members of the Press Council of Kosovo (PCK). The Code clearly states that the privacy of minors must be respected, requires that tragic cases must be handled with extreme care, emphasizing the need for understanding and empathy towards the victim’s families. Many of the media outlets that published the video of Fejzullahu’s murder are members of the PCK.

Beyond violating journalistic principles, this distraction from the public interest prevents necessary discussions from occurring in the face of such acts of violence, which are not uncommon. Sensationalizing violence increases its exposure and allows violence to repeat itself either directly or indirectly.

The media coverage of Fejzullahu and Ademaj’s murders has not occurred in isolation. Media spectacles such as these should invite reflection on how journalists willingly ignore human dignity for more clicks, readers or viewers. Moreover, normalizing this type of coverage undermines the trust readers and viewers have in the media.

When the media sensationalizes, society moves further away from relevant institutions taking responsibility, institutions that are supposed to stop, reduce and address this violence. Additionally, such coverage invites citizens to make judgments themselves and makes it harder for victims to access justice.

The publication of videos, as in Fejzullahu’s case, only hinders the justice process. Journalists’ attention should be directed toward the responsible institutions and to deconstructing the factors that lead to violence. Journalism must play a role in breaking the cycle of violence, rather than serving as its accomplice. 

Feature Image: K2.0