The media must avoid some reporting on Islamist extremists as they could be helping to spread their ideology, the UK’s most senior terrorism police officer has claimed.
Some news reports were “helping the cause”, acting to “radicalise and influence”, and publishing images of terrorists makes them martyrs, Mark Rowley, the head of national counterterrorism policing, said, The Drum reports.
Speaking at the Society of Editors conference in Cambridge, he said editors tread a “fine line”, adding: “I do think there are some ways that you can rein back what you do.
“There is a fine balance. If [Islamic State] are looking to influence, you have to ask, are you helping them to influence.”
UK Police: Teach School Children to Prepare for Terror Attacks
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Specifically, Mr. Rowley said he was worried about sites publishing quotes from the terror group’s official Amaq propaganda arm and reprinting detailed guides on how to carry out truck attacks.
“You need to think about how you [report terror] without helping the cause of those doing it,” he continued, The Times reports.
“You don’t need to be copying that material out, that’s not necessary. You can report the generalities, you don’t need to help them and do their work.”
It was a decision for editors whether they ran names and photos of terrorists after atrocities, he said, but warned that publishing such images risked giving martyr status to murderers.
Cressida Dick, the London Metropolitan force’s commissioner and Britain’s most senior police officer, appeared to agree and also called for restricted coverage of terrorist attacks.
“You must inform but not glorify and provide the platform this evil craves,” she said.
“You must investigate but not in a dangerous way which disrupts the extensive efforts of the police and security services.
“You must comment but not in a way that creates excessive fear and multiplies the terror.”