In a time when trust is low Australians can be reassured by how Government and the media communicated the drama of the Martin Place siege.
The hostage siege in Martin Place ended at around 2:00am this morning with three people tragically killed. As the necessary legal processes take their course it will be sometime before the complete picture of what happened is known. Already some communications issues have emerged.
Authorities respond well
Well done to the national and NSW State authorities from the Prime Minister down for the way they managed communications. Throughout the 16 hour siege they communicated with clarity, confidence and compassion – the hallmarks of effective crisis communications.
Sticking to the facts they released information, calmed nerves and refused to overplay the incident, which would have been easy to do given current events in the Middle East.
Their approach was rewarded in the calm way Sydney-siders and Australians in other places reacted and thoughtfully processed the incident.
Kudos to media
Kudos to the media for their coverage. All TV networks switched to covering the situation live and absent was the endless speculation, second guessing and over-analysing experts who appear on TV in other parts of the world during similar situations.
Anchors and reporters, challenged by the need to continually broadcast, by and large relayed only fact, and more importantly refused to broadcast smart phone videos of hostages coerced to relay the gunman’s demands. All responsible journalism.
The media also ran positive community stories connected to the incident – ones that normally don’t make it to our screens. This included the Twitter movement #illridewithyou, the multi-faith prayer vigils in Sydney and Brisbane and the calls for restraint by community and religious leaders. ABC 24 and Channel 7 in particular ran level-headed coverage of events and hopefully this balance by all outlets will continue in coming days.
Fast and wrong
Unfortunately not everyone deserves credit.
Sydney’s Daily Telegraph led with its reporting fast, strong but incredibly wrong. Their initial coverage linked the Martin Place incident to ISIS and declared that it would change Sydney forever. They fell into trap of sacrificing speed and attention-seeking for accuracy and subsequent events proved their claims false.
It is reported the Australian Press Council has received complaints about the Daily Telegraph’s special edition.
In a time when trust is low, I think Australians can be reassured by how Government and the media communicated the drama of the Martin Place siege.