"If anyone rioted, it was the media. Many stories of rape, murder and general lawlessness were at best unsubstantiated, at worst simply false.”
This quote from the US State Select Committee on the response to Hurricane Katrina (see news) encapsulates the resurgence of that hoary debate about ‘the media’. The ways in which important events are reported, and the influence of these reports on the public’s perception of how major incidents are handled, came under scrutiny during both the Wilton Park and IJOCC conferences recently.
Worries about media and communication strategies might be reaching a new crescendo. One of the strongest concerns was that the media can end up driving an incident; during both events there was evident disquiet at the implications of leaders obtaining their briefings from television news rather than from the commander of an incident.
More seriously perhaps, delegates discussed specific examples of how reporting, or the pursuit of news, hampered operations and could have put personnel in danger.
This theme recurs in many of the articles in this issue, highlighting both the positive and negative aspects of the evolving frontiers in media reporting and broadcasting, including the increased input from ‘witness journalists’ and the far-reaching ramifications of new technology.
With this in mind, we are delighted to announce that Emily Hough and Crisis Response Journal will be chairing a session on interaction with the media at the IDER conference in Rome this October (p61).
We are inviting readers to engage in the debate – help us to reflect your concerns and to shape future discussion and strategies. Get in touch!