The horrific bombing and shooting rampage in Norway generated global front page coverage and raised several media-related debates. First, 24-hour media outlets stand accused of fact-free conjecture for broadcasting news of the Islamist attack that wasn’t.

Then there is the issue of the court-ordered media ban, and whether or not the media acts as a platform for criminals in covering the case and publishing Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto. Finally, Breivik’s reference to journalists Mark Steyn and others has re-ignited debate over whether ‘Muslim takeover’ writings promote Islamaphobia, as concluded by a group of Osgoode Hall researchers in 2008. When resulting human rights complaints against Maclean’s magazine were dismissed in Ontario and BC, it appeared the Canadian trend was to err on the side of free expression in journalism. Will this remain the case?

While some may argue the ‘lone lunatic’ theory, others place the tragedy in the context of rising anti-immigrant, anti-Islam political discourse in Europe – and doubtless the role of media will be part of the discussion in the days and weeks to come. 

The horrific bombing and shooting rampage in Norway generated global front page coverage and raised several media-related debates. First, 24-hour media outlets stand accused of fact-free conjecture for broadcasting news of the Islamist attack that wasn’t.

Then there is the issue of the court-ordered media ban, and whether or not the media acts as a platform for criminals in covering the case and publishing Anders Behring Breivik’s manifesto. Finally, Breivik’s reference to journalists Mark Steyn and others has re-ignited debate over whether ‘Muslim takeover’ writings promote Islamaphobia, as concluded by a group of Osgoode Hall researchers in 2008. When resulting human rights complaints against Maclean’s magazine were dismissed in Ontario and BC, it appeared the Canadian trend was to err on the side of free expression in journalism. Will this remain the case?

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While some may argue the ‘lone lunatic’ theory, others place the tragedy in the context of rising anti-immigrant, anti-Islam political discourse in Europe – and doubtless the role of media will be part of the discussion in the days and weeks to come. 

Patricia W. Elliott is a magazine journalist and assistant professor at the School of Journalism, University of Regina. You can visit her at patriciaelliott.ca.