“Terror shouldn’t lead our news” says RadioNZ’s Kathryn Ryan

In a Radionz?interview, Kathryn Ryan and Gavin Ellis, an?ex-editor of the NZ Herald discussed the topic of how terrorist incidents should be reported. They both seem to advocate censorship for terror events and their reasoning may surprise you.

They gave the impression that media have to walk a tightrope as there is “a fine balance” between the readers’ right to know what actually happened and avoiding giving the jihadists the notoriety that they are seeking. The other consideration mentioned was the need to prevent the rise of hate speech because reporting the truth about terror attacks may lead to spikes in hate speech against Muslims and hate crime. This is a very paternalistic view of the media where editors get to decide how much of the truth we are allowed to see. Even if their intentions are good the net result is censorship.

Kathryn?Ryan?questioned whether Terror stories should even be lead?stories in our media. Gavin Ellis said he didn’t like the term “radicalised Islamic” because he didn’t think that they are. Instead, he described them as “wrongheaded people who pick up on the IS label” and as “misusers of one of the world’s great religions.” It was as if they didn’t deserve headlines because they were not real terrorists. Ryan questioned whether the media should turn “every individual who killed someone into a global story.” They both seemed to be promoting the idea that the actions of terrorists radicalised on the internet were acts of individuals, not terror groups.

They compared coverage of car accidents to terror attacks and pointed out that we don’t cover overseas car accidents. Listening to them I felt like I was on another planet. Car accidents overseas have no impact or relevance to New Zealand. We already have 30-40 suspects on a terror watchlist inside New Zealand. What is happening in other Western countries is what will happen to us in 5-10 years time if we don’t make some serious changes to our security and immigration law. It is crucial that the Media keep New Zealanders informed as if they wrap them in cotton wool they will fail to push for the changes needed to prevent New Zealand going down the same destructive path as Australia, Sweden, the UK, France, Germany, The Netherlands and so on.