The Role of the Media in Crisis Management – By Chinedu Aroh
Crises are inevitable in human existence. Individually and collectively, crises confront mankind on a daily basis. Hence, crisis management becomes vital in building any society. Crises that are well managed usually translate into a case study, as they become the template in handling similar ones. However, when crises are wrongly managed, the consequences are always humongous.
This is where the media have a huge role to play, especially in the management of human-threatening crises, like the recent anti-police brutalities protest which almost brought the country to a total standstill. Whatever is the cause, the media should always find themselves as the mediator. The media should chew and digest what is being churned out for public consumption because they remain the news platform which the generality of the populace rely on in keeping tabs on the goings-on.
Therefore, the media should always go for objective reportage of events to the extent that such reports will not undermine national interests. Reporting some biased and sensitive issues capable of exacerbating an already-heated up environment is an ill-wind that blows no one any good.
Sadly indeed, in this era of the social media, the control of what is being churned out may be pretty impossible, as every tom, dick and harry can easily and comfortably compose stories and circulate among the reading public. The matter of the social media is to appeal to the consciences of the practitioners because the regulation is virtually absent.
For the conventional media, both electronics and the print, there should be an editorial quality control to analyse and synthesise what is being fed the public. The editorial policies should always factor the interest of the larger society into consideration. Even when objectivity is being pursued, national interests should take precedence.
One of the observables in the anti-police brutalities protest across some states of the federation is the multiplier effects of some media reports as protesters seem to replicate the same mayhem in a coordinated format at the same time. This implies that the world, as a global village, can cave in simultaneously. Worse still, some platforms hype already escalated and gory matters to attract readership. Such should be dissuaded.
No doubt, the media may also encounter challenges in getting accurate and timely information of what goes on during crises. At times, the wielders of such information would refuse to disclose the true situation of the events. This exposes the media to speculate. The dangers of such speculations are the possibilities of misconstruing facts, and arriving at a wrong conclusion, with its dire consequences. To solve this problem, the media should always be kept in the know of the true situation of things by daily updates in a streamlined manner in a way that will not be injurious to the media as an institution. Such should be truthful and unambiguous.
Indeed, media professionals should see themselves as key players and re-moulders in society. They should always understand that whatever they produce to the public can make or mar the readers, and the consequences can be unpalatable. Government and other various stakeholders should also accord media practitioners the respect they deserve through the provision of the enabling environment, including insurance cover, considering the hazards attendant to the job.
To stem the usual misinformation in society, institutions and individuals alike should engage the services of sound media professionals to manage their information desks. Hiring non-professionals to man media affairs defeats the purpose. The media sector is tasking and sensitive that it should not be all-comers’ affairs. Government and other agencies should also have a standard order in dishing out information to avoid misrepresentation of facts. Above all, propaganda should be avoided as much as possible because it discredits the integrity of the system.
Further, the core media, especially those owned by the government, should not be emasculated because such makes the reading masses opt for other credible options, which can mislead them.
The time to get it right is now.
– Chinedu Aroh wrote from Enugu.
Disclaimer: This article is entirely the opinion of the writer and does not represent the views of Newswire Law & Events.