View Full Version : Is the media helping the hostage takers?

tlr online
30-09-04, 12:39
The taking of hostages, such as Ken Bigley in Iraq, has prompted debate on the media's role and responsibilities in covering such events. Does publicity help or hinder their plight? Was Margaret Thatcher right to decry the 'oxygen of publicity'?

The dilemma is beginning to haunt editors everywhere. How do you deal with this wave of hostage taking from Russia to Iraq? How do you cover something where, time and again, your coverage is part of the reason why the hostages were taken in the first place?

Perhaps the media has been a little slow off the mark here, blinded by a certain arrogance. We couldn't believe that Chechen revolutionaries or Al-Qaeda terrorists with beards and kaftans could be sophisticated spin doctors, too - let alone that it was us they were spinning.

But that is the truth of it. The Chechens who stormed that school in Beslan and shot their own videos inside it expected to see TV cameras poking 24 hours a day from surrounding buildings.

Readers and listeners aren't stooges, to be informed and then ignored. In a free society, moreover, I think that citizens who have the profound ill luck to be taken hostage deserve more than being left to die in silence, to join the ranks of the disappeared. That is us using them as pawns; and we ought to be better than that.

No: the only way is the hard way. It means thought and reflection from editors, reporters and listeners alike. It means seeing, hour by hour, the nature of the manipulation and explaining the probabilities.

The injunction, at the last, is to tell the whole story, the full truth. And if sickening spin is part of that story, to make sure that we all understand that, too. The hostages have to live, terrified, in the dark. We have to live in the light.

www.bbc.co.uk (http://www.bbc.co.uk)

YOU CAN PUT FORWARD YOUR OPINION TO THE BBC USING THIS FORM (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3702574.stm)

30-09-04, 15:00
That is an interesting take on it. And it is absolutely true.

30-09-04, 21:44
I think that its about time humans as a race celebrated the diversities of our different cultures instead of fighting each other in the name of supremacy. Hostage situations of any kind are cruel and sad, I can't believe that one person can treat another in this way. No matter what the supposed reasoning behind it!!!! :(

30-09-04, 22:26
Peace isn't out of reach, people just have to give up their ignorance.

01-10-04, 05:05
Good point! I never thought of the media that way before. Definitely something to think about. It's so horrible to see this going on. :mad: