A double-edged sword
Militant outfits have often used media in a tactical way to spread their message, and the media at times served the outfits' purpose through exaggerating the details, according to a study.
The study -- The Symbiotic Relationship between Media and Terrorism -- further mentioned that newspapers are committed to publishing the truth but sometimes the principles of journalism get violated due to unhealthy competition.
Moreover, media's attempt to dramatise and use of detailed description of events, unwanted adjectives to stir up readers' emotion, and fabricated or speculative interpretations of premature news can be harmful not only for readers but also for the society as a whole.
This can never be desired from responsible media, read the study paper.
Shabnam Azim, associate professor, department of Mass Communication and Journalism at Dhaka University, presented the study on the first day of a three-day webinar that started on Sunday.
The webinar -- Ensuring life without terror: Responses to terrorism in Bangladesh -- jointly organised by the Counter Terrorism and Transnational Crime unit and Centre for Genocide Studies, ends today.
The study was conducted analysing more than 100 news items on 24 major militancy-related incidents between 2014 and 2019 in the country. Eight experts from different strata of the society were also interviewed.
The researcher believes that during the time (2014-2019), issues such as rise of militancy, suppression of possible attacks, attempted attacks or destroying militant organisations' capacity, sporadic attempts, and efforts of reorganising and the process of re-emergence came to the forefront.
On the other hand, the media's approach to terrorism, choice of words, attitudes, and editorial policy marked a clear shift.
In a nutshell, newspapers started publishing news in 2014 in a naive way, at times carelessly, and without considering the consequences or maintaining appropriate editorial policy, read the study conducted by Shabnam Azim.
Considering the type of news published in 2014 and 2015, it can be said that a kind of "mutualism" between the media and militancy was established through the publication of news related to militancy, according to the study.
"The media publish news out of interest to publish information while the militant groups get the opportunity to achieve its goals through such news," it said.
The year 2016 was no exception either. An analysis of the news content of the Holy Artisan attack revealed that the militant-media relationship at this stage changed from a parasitism symbiosis to a reciprocal relationship.
The news in the latter part of 2016 and in 2017 mainly focused on police operations, it added.
However, publication of news of militant groups accepting responsibility [of any incident] help them publicise their existence, the study reports added.
The study recommended organising training for journalists and workshops for policy makers of the media. Also, continuous dialogues between police and the policy makers and a guideline for reporting on the issue are also needed. It also suggested broadcasting shows on anti-terrorism.
The study recommended that the law enforcers use media friendly words white disseminating militancy-related information. This will help avert misunderstanding and confusion and the person who will brief the media must be skilled in presenting information and his/her approach should be media friendly.