When a bomb rocks a government building or nerve gas is disbursed in a subway station, the public wants – and might need – to know. But if the incident is contained and police don’t yet have the answers, how does word get out? The media, of course.
Even as the police are sorting through the evidence, when there is confusion, misinformation and few facts, media outlets are busy reporting. They want to be first with the story to get people to tune in, log on or pick up their papers. Of course accuracy, not being first to report, should be their primary goal. However, editors and news directors should recognize another challenge, one that in the scheme of things is more problematic. How much information is too much?
Terrorists resort to violence in order to spread fear that they hope results in political or social change. Sensationalizing the news, teasing “more at 11,” magnifies the incident and can spread fear. How do the media report the news and possibly serve the public interest without becoming the terrorists’ tools?
That’s a question characters on both sides will be considering in my book.