Emily Bell, one of the world’s most highly respected commentators on media, has written a post for the Columbia Journalism Review that draws together strands of important thinking on the dilemmas involved in terrorism fed by social media, and the emerging wisdom on the ethics involved for mainstream media in following it. Messages include: “Do not report facts until they are verified, do not focus on the perpetrator over the victims, do not use sensational language that might glamorize the terrorist.” Read it here (and find many more internationally-focused articles on the media in the same place).
Lots of angles for any 2006MAPA students looking at ethical fallout from the New Zealand terror attack in the excellent Columbia Journalism Review newsletter: “For Australia’s ABC, Rashna Farrukh, a Muslim woman who worked in a junior role at Sky News Australia, explains that last week’s mosque massacre in New Zealand drove her to quit the channel, which she characterizes as a platform for incendiary right-wing rhetoric. Sky is owned by Rupert Murdoch. In the aftermath of the attack, Sky New Zealand said it removed Sky News Australia from its platform while the latter was still showing clips from the mosque shooter’s video. New Zealand’s chief censor subsequently made it illegal to view, possess, or share that video.”
Days after the New Zealand mosque shootings, copies of the killer’s live web footage were circulating online, despite attempts to remove it. Wired magazine said detecting such footage using artificial intelligence was “a lot harder than it sounds”, hence the use of human moderators trained to look for warning signs in Live videos, like “crying, pleading, begging” and the “display or sound of guns”. Facebook was tagging all footage removed to prevent it being reposted but Google said it would not take down extracts deemed to have news value, putting it, said Wired, “in the tricky position of having to decide which videos are, in fact, newsworthy”. The piece goes on to look at the ethics of YouTube and Facebook policies that mean offensive footage may be removed, unless posted by a news organisation. YouTube has been criticised for removing videos of atrocities that were valued by researchers. The article points to the lack of regulation, or “big stick” incentives for social media companies to solve the problem. Read the piece here.
“A video of a terrorist attack may be informative news reporting if broadcast by the BBC, or glorification of violence if uploaded in a different context by a different user.” – Google lawyer Kent Walker, writing in 2017. Read his op-ed here.
After Donald Trump’s press secretary claimed he had never done anything but condemn violence against the media, the Vox website highlighted video evidence of him making incendiary remarks and applauding an assault on a journalist. It went on to set out a “brief history of Trump directly and indirectly encouraging violence against the media and political opponents.” Trump’s own response: “I think my language is very nice.” But also: “I would never kill [journalists]. Ahh … let’s see… well … no, I wouldn’t. I would never kill them. But I do hate them. And some of them are such lying, disgusting people.”
Read the piece here.
In the US, the Late Show’s Stephen Colbert relished the discovery that Fox News host Sean Hannity had defended Donald Trump’s lawyer without disclosing that he too was a client. Watch here.
By January 2018, the number of journalists jailed in Turkey, mostly accused of spreading “terrorist propaganda”, had passed 150. Read more
Concerns were raised about efforts in Europe and the UK to tackle online hate and harassment, including by making social media platforms more transparent. As US writer Mathew Ingram reported in the Columbia Journalism Review, there was a risk of inhibiting free speech. Note that US law gives greater latitude on free speech, which is protected in the Constitution.