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Posted by on Apr 17, 2013 in Disasters, Featured, Media, Mental Health | 0 comments

Law Enforcement and Media not always on same page

boston massacreIn the fog surrounding disasters [disaster fog: hundreds if not thousands of clear reports, but also conflicting reportages by citizens, the press, law enforcement, health and hospital, and more], there has to be time for the smoke to clear to see what is truly so, about whom, what, where, how, and why.

It is easy in that fog that comes from literally thousands of souls on the ground doing their radar scoping, that errors are made in estimate of numbers of persons involved, numbers of homes lost, extent of damage, who did what, and where, when, how and why.

It is more usual than not, that first reports on any event within the larger event need to be updated, often more than once, to be accurate ‘in the moment’… althought whatever was just updated in terms of fact, may need to be updated again just a moment later.

[Yesterday, from newswires, I posted that there was an explosion at JFK Library in Boston. I corrected it as soon as it came over the wire that it was a fire, not an explosion. And thus we who are listening to updates, update our articles too. That’s the time-honored newspaper /journalist way.]

My own .02 from being a post-trauma recovery specialist at disaster sites– and seeing the fog that many souls across the world try to report on, is this:

At a disaster site, even far across the world from where one lives: It goes without saying that many persons want to do good and help…
— some are qualified and work themselves to the bone without adequate sleep and food in order to give real time helps,
–some helpers without realizing they take up resources of food and water and shelter come flooding in without being solicited, and have to be turned away or else operate on the fringes where they will not get in the way of critical care and first responder persons;
–some come to grandstand before the cameras or to fill their resumes,
–some few are pretenders and scam artists who are not what they say they are.
— some come as ‘tourists’ wanting to take pictures of the site or of themselves standing at the site.
— many many come to pray and leave mementos, and to give a word of encouragement to official helpers and investigators.

Many law enforcement jurisdictions are deeply committed to finding the criminal[s],
–they are most often cooperative, the point being to find/bring to light as soon, but also as carefully as possible
a suspicious person
via reliable sources,
a person of interest,
a person identified
a person sought
a person in custody
a person arrested
a person verified
a person charged

All the above ought, for all media, carry precise and different meanings.

For journalists, likely the most wary kind of newswire sourcing is “from a source who wishes to remain anonymous” or ‘from an un-named person who is with the highest echelon’… these might or might NOT hold water.

Some say that ‘wrong reporting’ comes from the competitive rush between big news agencies, both cable and paper, to ‘get the story’, to get the scoop. Yes. And maybe. I’ve seen reporters stampede to get the story, and they can be highly aggressive about it, but not at any cost. However, there are ever a few who attempt to sidestep journalistic ethics, including hacking into victims’ cell phones, invading their privacy in unethical ways, in their mania to get ahead of their peers. But the latter are in the distinct minority.

On another hand, updating to add to, correct disaster stories is usual in the fast media throw down we have in our time. And also, as here at TMV, the idea is to try to update the reader insofar as we can with facts and with analyses. That’s our mission. And within that mission is the commitment to add to, to delete, to update information as it unfolds [as CNN is doing at the moment, backing off from and correcting their prior report that a person had been arrested in the Boston massacre. They are now processing also on air how they ran with the ‘arrest’ story, which is good.]

In large disasters, to be as accurate as is humanly possibly, this requires speaking, I think, as much about the fog surrounding disasters, and the difficulty of seeing through that fog [meaning literally hundreds if not thousands of conflicting reports] by any one person, especially when all good hearts drive so deeply ‘to catch the bad guy’ for many emotional, spiritual, legal and defense reasons. As is right and proper in the deaths and maimings of innocents.

Let us continue.

see also Kathy Gill’s article yesterday on media coverage

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