Media coverage and treatment of violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism is in the spotlight again after last week's 14 Riverside Drive attack
Although a few challenges were recorded, there has been improvement by the media and the Government
Media coverage and treatment of violent extremism, radicalization and terrorism is in the spotlight again after last week's 14 Riverside Drive attack. Although a few challenges were recorded, there has been improvement by the media and the Government.
Information flow from the Government and engagement with the media improved, and journalists were more responsible and professional in handling the situation. There was minimal tension and conflict between journalists and the security teams. There was understanding and cooperation between the two sectors, especially in relation to allowing operational and strategic interventions implemented with little media exposure.
The first day had challenges, and instantaneous live broadcasts of the crime scene delayed security operations, but this was immediately rectified through quick communication to the teams. Remember, some of the arrests were made because of the media's exposure of the suspects and the car that was used gave the public the opportunity to identify and report.
Live broadcasting during terrorist attacks, especially focusing on the crime scene, interviewing survivors and holding pressers has been the biggest challenge, as it gives the suspects platform and free publicity.
Recent studies show that terrorists select targets that will generate maximum publicity and hold local and international media attention for a long time.
The improved performance by media shows they are more conversant with laws on national security and freedom of expression. Since the bombed area was a crime scene, when they were asked to move away to allow security operations, they obliged.
There was balanced reporting, with the media minimizing speculation and sensational reporting. While a lot of misinformation and propaganda was doing the rounds online, journalists refused to swallow the bait and waited for official figures from the authorities. This had its challenges, as people claimed it was not the way to go, but the media had to pay the price of trusting in reliable sources. There is a possibility of the Government manipulating figures, but without contrary evidence, media went with the figures.
A journalist's job is to tell the story using best international standards and practices based on accuracy, impartiality, fairness and balance. In such events, journalists should remember to be safe when positioning themselves and wear protective gear. They must keep the identities of victims concealed until the situation has been resolved or their names have been released by authorities.
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