Tragic improvements to terrorism protocols

It is a tragic fact that new media protocols for dealing with acts of terrorism in New Zealand have benefitted from experience.

The protocols were negotiated by the Media Freedom Committee and officials led by the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. They are an updated version of protocols first negotiated in 2004 and implemented the following year.

The updated version is clearly informed by the events in Christchurch in 2019. The preamble begins by saying that the mosque attacks “removed any doubt that New Zealand’s remoteness provided us with immunity from terrorism”.

That is hardly surprising, of course, but perceptions of terrorism have long been coloured by its most recent manifestations. Continue reading “Tragic improvements to terrorism protocols”

Mosque killer dilemma: To name or not

The Christchurch mosque terrorist has a name which will live in infamy, and present the New Zealand news media with an enormous dilemma.

It is increasingly evident that the killer of 51 innocent people (and the wounding of 40 more) is determined to keep that name in front of the public. The best means of doing so from his isolation cell in the Prisoners of Extreme Risk Unit at Auckland Prison is through the courts. That automatically draws in news media that have an obligation to cover his interactions with the justice system.

Last week the only man in New Zealand ever sentenced to life imprisonment without parole used his right to judicial review. He applied to have his designation as a “terrorist entity” removed and changes made to his strict prison conditions.

An announcement by the Justice Ministry that his request would be heard in the High Court at Auckland on Thursday was duly reported and it was apparent some were news media were struggling with the dilemma they have faced since 15 March 2019: Should they give him the publicity he so desperately craves? In particular, should his name be published? Continue reading “Mosque killer dilemma: To name or not”