Will clickbait media care when someone finally gets hurt?

Hostility towards migrants in Bosnia is reaching dangerous levels. Local media reporting has played a significant part in this.

Tijana Cvjeticanin
Tijana Cvjeticanin Istinomjer, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Source: Istinomjer
Will clickbait media care when someone finally gets hurt? - NewsMavens
Magnifying glass on the news, PixaBay

Why this story matters:

Avaz, a newspaper owned by the leader of one of the mainstream political parties in Bosnia, was among the first media outlets to start the ongoing hate campaign against migrants and refugees. In the latest example of anti-immigrant fear mongering, it conflated a few unrelated events to create one frightening headline:

Migrants are armed, robbing homes and stores!

First of all, the migrants are not "armed". Looking for a place to sleep, two of them broke into an empty house in Sarajevo, found arms and ammunition inside and took some of it on their way out. Caught with the weapons, they sent the police to the house where they found the rest of the "stash". 

As for the "robberies"? The weapons had nothing to do with them. They were, in fact, break-ins into empty houses or garages and two cases of stealing from a convenience store in Izačić (in the suburbs of Bihać, near the border with Croatia). Those were not armed robberies and no violent crime was committed against the local population. 

Two sets of events happened in two different towns -- one included two men who made a questionable choice in an overall difficult situation; another included several people who broke into empty properties looking for shelter and stole some groceries. 

Last week, protests broke out in Bihać. Local residents blocked the bus station and started "inspecting" buses upon arrival to "check if there are any migrants inside". On that occasion, fortunately, there were not. It's hard to think about what could've happened if there were. Or what would have happened if anyone with dark skin had been on those buses.

It's also hard to imagine that any of the so-called journalists who produce viral content on "scary migrants" would blink an eye if something like that really did happen. 

Violence against migrants has already been recorded

  • In contrast with the ongoing narrative about violent migrants, the rare scenes of actual violence involving migrants are cases of locals attacking them, not the other way round. 
  • The only recorded case we've seen recently was by a local man in Bihać, armed with a knife, who attacked several migrants and refugees who were passing by in the street. The police just stood and watched until he turned on them, at which point he was arrested. 
  • It was later stated that the man had mental health issues and has been prone to violent incidents before (notably, we never hear about mental health or any other preexisting circumstances in reports about misdemeanors or felonies comitted by migrants and refugees).
  • Even this event, which was recorded as it was unfolding, was twisted and presented by one "journalist" as the attack of an "insane refugee" on local residents -- despite the fact that the video showed that the exact opposite occured. 
  • The media outlet where this was published has immediately apologized and taken the piece off its website. 

Project #Femfacts co-financed by European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology as part of the Pilot Project – Media Literacy For All

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NewsMavens is a media start-up within Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland's largest liberal broadsheet published by Agora S.A. NewsMavens is currently financed by Gazeta Wyborcza and Google DNI Fund.
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