Reporting IS beheadings only spurs on the jihadists. We should stop it

News broke today that Islamic State (IS) terrorists have apparently beheaded the Japanese journalist Kenji Goto.

Should the video be verified, which seems likely at this point, it will be only the latest in a series of such killings committed to video tape. Around August last year the American journalist James Foley was murdered in the same manner, prompting the US to start a military campaign against IS.

The work of “Jihadi John”, as the press have christened the recurrent star of these execution films, betrays an understanding of how the media works, and in particular the maxim that when something bleeds it leads.

But while these make for invigorating stories, they are of little value to the audience. IS has already well established it is willing to do despicable things, and no moral person would dispute that it is an evil organisation.

Just like a corporation wishing to keep itself in the public eye, IS keeps releasing these videos because it wants publicity. Thus far the media has been happy to showcase these atrocities, and so the jihadists have kept the cameras rolling.

A moratorium on these stories would not stop IS killing, but it would at least give its members less reason to do so. The refusal would also be a more powerful condemnation than a repeat of the editorials which we will no doubt see over the next few days.

Most of all it would serve as a freezing out of these murderers from Western life, where they most certainly do not belong. Their attention-seeking stunts do not deserve a stage. We should stop giving it to them.

Jimmy Nicholls

Jimmy Nicholls

Writer on Westminster, free speech, religion and so forth. Contact jimmy.nicholls@rightdishonourable.com