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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 81453 Find in a Library
Title: Coping With the Media - Police-Media Problems and Tactics in Hostage Takings and Terrorist Incidents
Journal: Canadian Police College Journal  Volume:5  Issue:3  Dated:(1981)  Pages:129-148
Author(s): J Scanlon
Date Published: 1981
Page Count: 20
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: Canada
Annotation: This article describes and assesses the media role in a fixed location hostage incident not involving political demands.
Abstract: The first reality in hostage situations is that the media will learn about them, usually through one or more of the following ways: calls from the hostage taker, tips from persons associated with the hostage taker or from persons who have been officially informed, police radio traffic monitoring, phone calls from other persons who have learned of the incident, and by observation. In some cases, the police themselves are the source of information. Once the media learns of a hostage incident, they will attempt to get their own personal accounts by trying to contact the perpetrator directly. Whether they are from radio, television, or print and whether they are at the scene or not, the media will make a number of demands during an incident. They will ask for regular briefings from the police at the scene and will seek out others with related information at the scene and elsewhere. The advantages of holding regular briefings are discussed, and the role of the briefing officer is examined. In addition to having a briefing officer with the media, police need to monitor what is being reported by radio and television, since these reports can influence the negotiations. When the police have requested that the media not report certain events, the media have cooperated. Guidelines which have been suggested for the media during hostage taking incidents include delaying the publication of information that may assist the terrorists, avoiding sensationalism and excessive publicity of terrorist acts, using media pools to enhance cooperation with and reduce strain on the police, and exercising restraint by not contacting the terrorists directly. A total of 24 references are appended.
Index Term(s): Hostages; Kidnapping; Media coverage; Media support; Police hostage-negotiation units; Press relations; Terrorism/Mass Violence
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