Media coverage of terrorist threat - is this really helpful - to us?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Jeff Ulmer, Jun 10, 2002.

  1. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    First, I would remind everyone not to post anything political here.

    Is it just me, or does the media's reporting of terrorist activities and possible targets not seem to be dishing out inspirations to the terrorists? Tonight we have the "dirty bomb", and all the reports I'm seeing are saying how effective a terrorist attack it would be. The same goes for discussing the lax security at water reservoirs, or showing how easy it is to fly unmolested over a nuclear power plant. Hello? Like we need to be giving folks any new ideas. After 9/11 I too was able to imagine all sorts of ways that someone could attack the public, but I don't see how broadcasting them all over the globe is going to deter someone from doing so. I would think a well placed call or fax to the authorities might be a better idea, rather than outlining all the weak points in our security.

    Sure, it makes for dramatic discussions when you start talking massive casualties from some form of attack, but is this really serving the public interest? We already know how news coverage of tragic events often leads to copycats. Do we really need to provide instructions on how best to attack us?
     
  2. Rob Longmore

    Rob Longmore Stunt Coordinator

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    I think its called freedom of speech, and if nothing is said about possable threats and educationg the populous about how vanerable they are, then nothing will be done about the lax security etc, and therefor leaving them open to possable attack.

    the terrorists are smarter than we think. and have if not already canvased most of the ideas mentioned in the media.
     
  3. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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    I guess I have to ask if the discussion of the threat of a terrorist attack is the problem, or if people being freaked out by it is? I think people are just a LITTLE too edgy right now, who knows, some of you around here are old enough to remember people building bomb shelters under the threat of nuclear attack, I'd be curious to see any comparisons that could be made between then, and the threat of terrorist attacks now.
     
  4. Christopher P

    Christopher P Supporting Actor

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    Does media EVER serve the public interest? Sorry, that was uncalled for, but sometimes I wonder. No, I don't think we're letting the terrorists in on anything they don't already know....but I thought it was hilarious (in a scary way) that after the attacks, Dick Cheney was taken to a secret location, but they were tracking Bush and telling us his every move. In all, I think the media coverage is helpful to us, at least to let us know what is being done to protect us.

    Chris
     
  5. Jack Briggs

    Jack Briggs Executive Producer

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  6. Steve Christou

    Steve Christou Long Member

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    I'm with Jeff here, I remember a few weeks after Sept 11, a tv news programme discussing possible ways terrorists could cause the most damage and kill the most civilians, one suggestion was a hijacked plane crashing into a nuclear power plant, I remember them discussing the amount of damage, deaths, radiation levels and so on. I'm surprised they didn't discuss the angle of impact for maximum damage, which nuclear station would do the most damage and so on.
    I really do believe this sort of reporting is putting ideas into terrorists minds, its pathetic.
     
  7. BrianB

    BrianB Producer

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  8. Michael*K

    Michael*K Screenwriter

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    Ah baloney...the terrorists don't need the American news media to draw their "ideas." Prior to 9/11, I can't recall a single news report on how effective it might be to fly a jumbo jet into a skyscraper, and yet it happened. So who are you blaming that on? If the reporting of these possible threats puts public pressure on the powers-that-be to take more serious precautions (i.e. the Coast Guard watching over our water intakes, etc), I'm all for it.
     
  9. Todd Hochard

    Todd Hochard Cinematographer

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  10. Mark Pfeiffer

    Mark Pfeiffer Screenwriter

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    Keep in mind that the media is often reporting what the government and its agencies are telling them. Don't shoot the messenger.

    That said, I think government officials could sometimes be less fear-inducing with their releases. Yes, I think most people realize that danger lurks, but what good does it do to make pronouncements that at some point a nuclear bomb or "dirty nuke" will be detonated on our soil? I read in the paper today that if one were to be exploded, the psychological reactions would lead to a large proportion of the damage. OK, but I think what most people hear in such reports is that one of these bombs will blow up domestically. I don't think they take away that they need to be calm about it.
     
  11. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Supporting Actor

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    It is interesting, a NYTimes story about a major act was supressed in Aug 2001 with the editor saying "terrorism just isn't a big threat at this time." Hindsight, obviously is perfect but when politicians of one party try to get a "gotcha" on another party, there will be a lot more alerts on terrorist actions. Rumsfeld has said there will be a nuclear bomb exploded in the US at some point in the future. How is that for unsettleing news?
     
  12. Bhagi Katbamna

    Bhagi Katbamna Supporting Actor

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    Oh, and by the way, I think reporters and reporterettes have abdicated their duty to inform and think it is their job to "improve" the world rather than report the news.
     
  13. Chris Beveridge

    Chris Beveridge Second Unit

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    This one this week was just a whole wag, and the press fell for it. Instead of actually doing their job and investigating, they're just dealing with the press releases from the admin and other officials.

    So these constant updates are very helpful - just not to the average citizen.
     
  14. MickeS

    MickeS Producer

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    The problem with some of the media outlets is that if they see a warning about plane crashes into nuclear plants, they might not bother to do much more than show a clip of the plane crashing into WTC and say "Could this happen... in a nuclear power plant? The answer is coming up when we return", and then just give some blah information about how much radiation will leak out. They might not mention that nuclear power plants are built in a completely different way than WTC and that there wouldn't be many similarities between the two events. This is just an example.

    So I think the warnings are sometimes reported in an unbalanced and sensationalistic manner that defeat their purpose, making people feel like "What's the point, they'll win" instead of "I didn't realize that, I need to be more alert".

    However, I still do believe that it's right to warn people. Terrorists have already thought up ways to strike, but regular people haven't. For example, how many people really thought that the mail could be dangerous, even if it didn't contain explosives, as it was in the case of the anthrax terror? I certainly didn't.

    If people are warned about the not so obvious but very effective ways for terrorists to strike, people can become more alert and it will hopefully lead to fewer incidents, like in the case of the "shoe bomber" that was captured by the other passengers on the plane. A warning about how terrorists might poison water reservoirs won't give terrorists new ideas (they sit around and brainstomr these things anyway, I'm sure), but it definitely make people that live near one more alert to possible suspicious activity.

    As kong as the warnings are fairly specific, and as long as the media reports them in a not too sensationalistic manner, it's a good thing. Most are doing OK in this respect I think.

    /Mike
     
  15. Jeff Ulmer

    Jeff Ulmer Producer

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    The problem is that the media ALWAYS reports in a sensationalistic manner. While the public has a right to know, the type of journalism we see today is doing more to further the terrorist cause than it is to inform people. Anyone with a little bit of thought could come up with hundreds of effective ways to launch an attack against the civilian population. I'm sure terrorist organisations also have come up with many scenarios, but if they haven't thought of something, why give them any ideas? I also disagree with disclosing the locations where weapons and chemicals can be found. What purpose does this serve?

    If someone is going to fly a jet into a nuclear power facility, what is the average Joe going to be able to do about it? Should we all be building fallout shelters and harvesting rations? Do we need gas masks in our cars in case of a possible biological or chemical attack? Should we be wearing bullet proof vests and helmets at all times in case of a sniper or suicide bomber? These occurences are extremely rare, and in most cases could not be stopped. Certainly law enforcement and security agencies should be looking at all possible scenarios, but in reality, until something happens, chances are that there is little to do in preparation by the average citizen.
     
  16. Mark Schermerhorn

    Mark Schermerhorn Second Unit

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    Keep in mind that media outlets are in the business of selling ads, not reporting the news. Harsh but true.

    Also, most major media outlets, even in the democratic world, tend to regurgitate gov't press releases on most issues. The other side of the story is rarely explored or at best is barely touched on, which is not good for democracy.

    A great example (to me anyway, I can't literally prove it) came just last night. I was watching CBS news for some reason, the lead story of course was on this "dirty bomber" suspect. The reported stated that the "FBI and CIA worked together to catch the suspect" (not an exact quote but close). To me, that's an obvious PR move in the midst of the current "scandal" surrounding our intelligence community.
     
  17. Mary M S

    Mary M S Screenwriter

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    I go back and forth on this issue, according to my mood of the moment. When our media was advertising how unprepared for smallpox, (and how long the pharmaceuticals would take to come up to speed) I thought, ‘great just give them a road-map to our weak spots.’ Jeff has a great point on protecting our locations/information chain. My husband still talks enraged about the idiocy of seeing a CNN report during the Gulf War, when reporters were waiting on the beach for Seals to pop out of the ocean on their supposed secret foray.

    On the other hand, I’ve always been in the camp of give me more rather than less information, and it’s my choice to do with it as I please. Last nights CNN report regarding get to a hospital in the scenario of a ‘dirty bomb’ ASAP for treatment to diminish risk of thyroid cancer, was pertinent information I wish to be in possession of. If I were on the outskirts of a dirty bomb explosion, and thought I had escaped consequences, I would need these facts to act appropriately in all the bedlam.

    Pilots train and train to be ready amongst all the hours of shear boredom, to mentality be prepared for the one second of terror and instantaneously, Identify, Isolate, Respond.
    If I’m around a difficult horse, I review the location, situation, and predetermine ‘if it does this, I’ll do that’, can’t count the number of times that has salvaged a potentially bad ‘wreck’ or diminished the consequences.

    The immediate effect of 9/11 was everyone having the jitters and being on high alert but these ‘flight or fight’ instincts will fade. People around me at first contemplated if this was to happen in my vicinity, what are my plans? Will I be the first to make it to the car rental, before they are checked out, when flights are grounded etc. (My sister was several blocks from GZ on a business trip and didn’t get out of NY for almost 2 weeks).

    The everday victims on the Philadelphia flight were in possession of information due to their cell phone contacts, that ‘allowed’ them to choose to attempt to fight for their lives, - or at the least, - the choice to sacrifice themselves to protect others.
    The New York flights had not the same ‘privilege’ of choice, without ‘warning’ they assumed they were to be ransomed in a 3rd world country as prior high-jacked aircraft had been.
    Knowledge is power. I think we have to know.
     
  18. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

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  19. MikeAlletto

    MikeAlletto Cinematographer

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    Actually CNN had an article today about how a dirty bomb would not really spread that much radiation around.
    http://www.cnn.com/2002/HEALTH/06/10...lth/index.html
     
  20. Glenn Overholt

    Glenn Overholt Producer

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    I'm not going to buy the 'chaos theory'. If you were driving downtown (anywhere, USA), and one went off, how would you know? You might not even hear it and if you did, the noise from an explosion could be from just about anything.

    If you were downwind and close enough, you're probably dead meat, but if you were headed that way, you'd only know about it if you had the news on the radio, and how many of us do that? Besides, how long will it take even a radio station to find out and broadcast it? By that time you might have driven right into it.

    Assuming this 'war' goes on for years, what will happen if the media decides that they are tired of broadcasting the same garbage over and over? This is sort of like the boy who cried wolf. Will we, after an unknown period of time, ignore the threats just because we've heard them all before?

    Glenn
     

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