Counter-terror chiefs have warned Britain’s media to tone down their reporting of terrorist atrocities amidst fears that they could be spreading propaganda on behalf of groups such as IS.
Urging a ‘fine balance’ to be struck between covering events and helping to ‘radicalise and influence’ Mark Rowley, assistant commissioner of the Metropolitan Police, told a gathering of the Society of Editors: “I do think there are some ways that you can rein back what you do. There is a fine balance. If [IS] are looking to influence, you have to ask, are you helping them to influence.”
Fears have long been expressed within law enforcement that the media can unwittingly play a part in the propaganda efforts of terrorists by giving them the oxygen of publicity and serving as a recruiting sergeant.
Adopting a similar line Rowley’s boss, Net commissioner Cressida Dick called for a ‘reset’ in relations between journalists and the police by pledging greater ‘transparency’ in official briefings, asserting that relationships between journalists and officers ‘should not be categorized in the same way as a relationship with a criminal’.
Relations between journalists and the force plumbed new depths when more than thirty journalists were arrested or charged as part of an investigation into inappropriate payments – none of the individuals concerned were ever convicted.
Dick remains unrepentant however, stating: “I won’t apologise for Operation Elveden – corrupt police officers and other public officials were locked up for taking money for information – that is a good result.”
Last year French media enacted a voluntary ban on publicising terrorists.