Hierarchy of death
Hierarchy of death is a phrase used by journalists, social scientists, and academics to describe disproportionate amounts of media attention paid to various incidents of death around the world.
Definitions of the hierarchy of death vary, but several themes remain consistent in terms of media coverage: domestic deaths outweigh foreign deaths, deaths in the developed world outweigh deaths in the developing world, deaths of whites outweigh deaths of darker skinned people, and deaths in ongoing conflicts garner relatively little media attention.
The phenomenon has been linked to a variety of factors, including stereotypes about different groups of people, familiarity with the deceased, and several psychological theories, such as collapse of compassion, psychic numbing, and disaster fatigue.
British media commentator Roy Greenslade has been credited with coining the term while writing on the newsworthiness of those who died during the Troubles. Greenslade also critiqued the phenomenon in media reactions to the Boston Marathon bombings.
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