US Media Watchdog Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) has recently published a report titled: "What we learned from
analyzing thousands of stories on the Christchurch shooting"
After the Christchurch massacre, CJR used Media Cloud, an open-source media analysis tool
developed at MIT’s Center for Civic Media and Harvard’s Berkman Klein Center, to analyse news sources to see how
outlets complied with guidelines from groups that seek to limit the amplification of terrorist acts through media.
CJR analysed 6,337 stories from 508 national-level English-language news sources in New Zealand, Australia, Canada, the
United Kingdom, and the United States.
CJR coded for compliance with the following best practices:
1. Don’t publish the shooter’s name.
2. Don’t link to or publish the name of the forum that the shooter posted on to promote the attacks.
3. Don’t link to or publish the name of the shooter’s manifesto.
4. Don’t describe or detail the shooter’s ideology.
5. Don’t publish or name specific memes linked to the shooter’s ideology.
6. Don’t refer to the shooter as a troll or his actions as trolling.
7. Follow the AP guidelines for using the term “alt-right” (contain it within quotation marks or modify it with
language such as “so-called” or “self-described”).
In addition, they coded for stories that “focused specifically on the victims or mentioned Islamophobia as a cause in
The graph below shows what guidelines publications in different countries violated.
Regarding NZ coverage CJR said:
“The New Zealand Herald, which ran 11 stories shared more than 50,000 times, violated four of the guidelines, more than almost all other New
Zealand outlets. Some outlets may look at their social media metrics and conclude that they need to publish sensitive
details of the massacre to retain readers.”
And regarding National differences;
“There’s a small difference in adherence to these guidelines between media without a print or broadcast presence, and
those that are non-digitally native (see the graph below). However, it’s less significant a difference than the apparent
difference in national standards between countries like the US and NZ, which were largely compliant, and those like the
UK and Australia, which were less so.”
CJR concluded from these findings, that more journalists are stepping back from the “who, what, where, how, and why” to
questions of how to prevent tragedy.
However, they point out that with platforms as a distribution system, this problem is much more complicated.
“Digitization has made local news globally accessible, and it’s a very short distance from ‘It can’t happen here’ to
‘It’s happening everywhere.’ ”