24/09/2018 - Published by

Terrorism survivors urge media to report responsibly during and following terror attacks

Terrorism survivors from across the United Kingdom are to call upon the press, media and those in public life to take a greater responsibility on how they report on terrorist attacks and to challenge violent extremism through their reporting and commentary following events.

The call is being made as many people affected by terrorism announced their intention to form an international network of like-minded organisations and people who will work to prevent violent extremism and support each other, as they cope with the consequences of violent conflict. Joining together at the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Centre in North West England, over a 100 people agreed that ‘enough is enough’ and that they should establish a Peace Builders network to challenge those who use violence to further their aims and to support anyone who has been affected by terrorism.

Eight survivors of terrorism have worked with the Peace Foundation to produce a series of films, that hear from people who have been affected by terrorist attacks ranging from the Manchester 2017 attack to the Bataclan attack in Paris.

You can watch the films here:

Anna Harwood | incident | Bataclan, Paris – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R1BYA2ZQTUk

Graham Foulkes | incident | London 7/7 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3manRkD6_ok

Travis Frain | incident | London Westminster Bridge – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CO0JU6bdUPE

Figen Murray | incident | Manchester Arena – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lidSHlEas6I

Cath Hill | incident | Manchester Arena – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jL13thS3cOM

Justine Merton-Scott | incident | Bataclan, Paris – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cEqwbGzHla4

Azuma Wundowa | incident | London 7/7 – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ogmAE0XAeRM

Zoe Alexander | incident | Bataclan, Paris – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uoJdSUoDPfQ

In the short films, we hear about their direct and indirect experiences with the media and their desire to promote a strong message that #WordsMatter.

Nick Taylor, Peace Foundation Chief Executive, welcomed the initiative: “The Peace Foundation’s National Survivors Assistance Network provides practical and emotional support to those who have been affected by terrorism both at home and abroad.

“These films tell people’s stories of courage, resilience and survival despite going through the unimaginable.

“What emerges from the interviews is that the media can be both a help and hindrance when it comes to reporting on terrorism. The media’s use of certain words and imagery can be hugely distressing for those who have experienced an attack. “

In the films, Cath who was at the Manchester Arena attack talks about the constant coverage of the perpetrator’s face giving him ‘celebrity status’ and she highlights the reality that ‘it was a crime, a murder.’ Figen, whose son Martyn was tragically killed in the same attack echoes Cath’s comments: ‘I dislike it when terms such as lone wolf, The Beatles, Jihadi John are used, they glorify these people. ‘Islamic State’, they’re not a state, they’re a group of people doing terrible things.’

The survivors believe that the media can be a force for good, bringing people together in the face of atrocities and fostering connection, by focusing coverage on those impacted in an attack rather than those who perpetrate them. Zoe, who lost her brother in the Bataclan attack said: ‘The media can help by bringing people together through celebration and unity of the loved ones’ lives, making sure it’s used as a vehicle for positive commemoration.’

Graham shares Zoe’s view, saying that the media needs to focus on how communities come together in the wake of an attack: ‘We saw in London, Manchester and in Paris and Tunisia that the local community do really gel together very well. That is important, and one side of the event that the media should focus on. It’s important to show how we respond when they attack.’

Inspired by the testimonies of these individuals, the Peace Foundation worked with a group of like-minded organisations to come up with a list of suggested alternative terms that the media could adopt to limit the harm caused to those affected by attacks and promote communities coming together. The words will form a glossary to be issued to the media (copy attached) and will be highlighted in the films made by the Foundation and survivors.

The Foundation highlighted positive work that the media is undertaking to address the points raised by #WordsMatter including the BBC Academy, a training resource for BBC journalists and the wider industry. BBC News North of England correspondent Judith Moritz and assignment editor, Sunita Bhatti, put together advice for reporters covering sensitive stories and dealing with bereaved people. The BBC Academy also runs a course for journalists who are to interview people who have been traumatised, and offers advice and tips on how to handle sensitive stories – https://www.bbc.co.uk/academy/en/articles/art20180702101648178

Manchester Evening News (Trinity Mirror) joined with the Peace Foundation to promote peace building and challenge hate through a campaign called #WeStandTogether – the approach was awarded regional press campaign of the year by the British Society of Editors.

Nick Taylor concludes: “We need all of the media to follow these examples. It isn’t just about reporting on terrorism, recent weeks has seen a fishing dispute parodied as ‘war on the high seas,’ and a politician using emotive terms such as ‘suicide vests and detonators.’

“Our language is rich and descriptive and often uses analogy or metaphor, but we must guard against the inappropriate use of words.

“If we are to defeat violent extremists, then we have to take away extremists’ legitimacy and undermine any shred of credibility they think they have, by showing respect to those impacted, and responsibility in reporting and accepting that #WordsMatter.”

#WordsMatter will launch on Tuesday 25th September 2018 and consists of eight survivors of incidents including London 7/7, Bataclan Paris, Manchester and London Westminster Bridge, talking about their experiences of the media, press and public figures speaking and reporting after events, and calling upon them to show responsibility in the way they report and commentate about terrorism.with making the film are available. All films are open source and free to broadcast and promote.

#WordsMatter is a campaign promoted by the Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation – a charity and non-governmental organisation working in the prevention of violent extremism in schools and colleges and the resolution of violent conflict through the development of peace building in communities. The Foundation is the operator of the National Survivors Assistance Network, providing health & wellbeing, social and welfare support to all those affected by terrorism in Great Britain and in promoting reconciliation on our islands post conflict in Northern Ireland – ‘the troubles.’

© 2018 The Tim Parry Johnathan Ball Peace Foundation, the charity that works nationally and internationally to promote peace and non-violent conflict resolution. We Stand together for Peace!