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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- "The hierarchy of death: Boston's bombings shock us more than the silent drone war in Pakistan. But should they?". The Telegraph. April 24, 2013.
- Ajaka, Nadine. "Paris, Beirut, and the Language Used to Describe Terrorism". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-02-21.
- "Is There A Hierarchy Of The Importance Of Death In The News Business?". NPR.org. Retrieved 2018-02-17.
- Massie, Allan (16 April 2013). "Allan Massie: Keep Boston bombings in perspective". The Scotsman. Retrieved May 29, 2015.
- Jones, Owen (2013-04-21). "Owen Jones: Our shameful hierarchy - some deaths matter more than others - Comment - Voices". The Independent. London. Retrieved 2013-04-29.
- Levy, Yagil (2012). Israel's Death Hierarchy: Casualty Aversion in a Militarized Democracy (Warfare and Culture). New York City: NYU Press. ISBN 978-0-8147-5334-7.