IPSO Blog: Reporting on terrorism and IPSO advice on major incidents

Communications & Public Affairs Officer Hanno Fenech discusses the Royal United Services Institute report on Terrorism and the Mass Media and IPSO guidance on the reporting of major incidents. 

A report this week by the Royal United Services Institute for Defence and Security Studies (RUSI) explored the role of the media in reporting terrorism. The report, titled Terrorism and the Mass Media, was led by RUSI’s Terrorism Conflict researcher Jessica White and commissioned by the Met Police’s Counter Terrorism Policing Unit.

The report highlights some of the challenges of reporting in this area and advises the media on how to balance the strong public interest in reporting major terrorist incidents while not amplifying the negative impacts of terrorism. The findings of the RUSI report detail the positive effects ethical codes of practice and responsible reporting guidelines have on minimising the negative impacts related to terrorism reporting.

IPSO has produced guidance for journalists and editors on the reporting of major incidents, setting out how the Editors’ Code of Practice −the set of standards we regulate – applies. We also provide information for the public explaining why and how journalists might approach affected individuals after a terrorism incident and what they should do if they have any concerns.

Should an individual be involved in a major incident (terrorism-related or otherwise) IPSO can help with potential press intrusion. In appropriate cases, IPSO can issue a private advisory notice to let editors know about an individual’s concerns and that they do not want to talk to the press, reminding them of how the Editors’ Code applies. The notices are extremely effective and can pass on concerns about the potential publication of intrusive or private information and help people find space at a time of grief or shock – making clear, for example, that those who have suffered a bereavement do not want to talk to the press.

IPSO continues to raise awareness of these services through outreach to emergency services (including every police authority in Britain) and interest groups.

Read the full RUSI report here, and find more about our work on major incidents reporting and the private advisory system on the IPSO website