How are media managed at times of crises?

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How are media managed at times of crises?

By Fr. Dr. Rif'at Bader

The pure souls proceeded to their creator, the Almighty God, "where there is neither pain nor sorrow." The souls of the innocent people left, leaving behind a homeland shrouded in sadness. They left behind a humanity seeking a better future for its generations as well as families and parents in mourning with eyes welling with bitter tears hoping that what happened would have merely been a nightmare and a troubling dream. These souls left leaving behind official, educational and popular administrations trying in the first place to shirk any responsibility even if this necessitated blaming weaker sides for what happened and presenting warning for what lies ahead particularly in the violent winter time.

These souls left, leaving behind satellite channels, websites, discussions, analyses, reports, exclusive photos, as well as exchange of views by guests, officials and analysts from various satellite stations. The question that arises is "how are media managed at times of crises?

At the very outset of the event, several sides shirked responsibility and exchanged accusations at a time when the main concern should have been awaiting the activities conducted by the concerned sides in their effort to save the people trapped between the rocks and in water. At this time, documents were released reflecting on the side that had arranged for the trip and the side that approved of it. Another question that arose is: How does the Ministry of Education approve of a trip to a site other than the assigned site (where there was confusion between Al Azraq and Zarqa Ma'in). In other words we have been confused with lots of stated views and ignored the main concern, namely the groups of mercy and the Civil Defence Department that was deeply involved in the process of separating the saved people from those who passed away. We forgot that humans are in danger and that humanity faces serious danger. We had to wait for a long time before we start launching accusations, conducting analyses, and inundating social media networks with all the details that have been devoid, even in some twitter by officials, of truth as well as of coordination and a real sense of responsibility.

A few days ago, I met with journalist Suhair Jaradat who had just returned from a visit to an Arab country after having supervised a training of a group of journalists on "the role of media in crisis management." She explained to me in detail indicating that this matter is neither a joke nor a negation of rumors. It is the media of the homeland, of the national security and of public safety.

I recalled what she said earlier after the serious calamity that has befallen us. I realized that we have nothing to do with the serious media, namely the "the media at times of crises'' which is based on recognition of the existence of a crisis, not denying it, confronting it, containing it, abstaining from keeping silent or covering it up, as well revealing its real size through partnership between media and the competent authorities based on full confidence so as to issue the correct media message, taking into account that conveying incorrect data to media outlets or avoiding to answer certain questions is counterproductive and undesirable.

We badly need to prepare media cadres who issue official numbers of the injured. It should not be the case that reporters who work in a certain "geographic site'' or in the venue of an event serve as correspondents at times of crises, since such events require professionalism implying the way to handle events at times of emergencies and abstaining from releasing any numbers relevant to the number of the injured without making sure their soundness. We, actually, do not deal with numbers, but with people under the rubble whose relatives are burdened with worry, sorrow and grief.

In the early hours, the hospital was overcrowded. One of the ministers was cracking jokes with journalists saying, "O my God, isn't enough. I have talked too much today." The journalists react laughingly saying, "One more question please." This situation does not reflect coordination in the field of media reporting. It regrettably indicates a lack of responsible attitude placed on our shoulders. There is a need for serious media that administer crises and make contacts with the public in a serious, professional way that is not devoid of humanitarian feelings.

abouna.org@gmail.com

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