TERRORISM: REPORT TRUTHFULLY, BUT JUDICIOUSLY
Ucapan alu-aluan Ketua Pegawai Eksekutif Malaysian Press Institute (MPI), Datuk Dr. Chamil Wariya di Workshop on role of the media in covering violent extremism (CVE) and radicalization leading to terrorism di Hotel Perdana, Kota Baru, Kelantan pada 30 Oktober 2018, jam 9 pagi.
Assalamualaikum, a very good morning and welcome to this Workshop on role of media in covering violent extremism (CVE) and radicalization leading to terrorism, here in Kota Baru, Kelantan. This two and half day workshop is organised jointly by Malaysian Press Institute (MPI); the United States Embassy in Kuala Lumpur and South East Asia Regional Centre for Counter Terrorism (SEARCCT) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Malaysia.
Similar workshop – the first of its kind for media practitioners – was held last week in Malacca for 31 journalists from Johor, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Wilayah Persekutuan and Perak. They represented 14 media organisations.
Today in Kota Bharu, 27 more journalists, representing 10 media outlets from Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang and also from Kuala Lumpur will take part in this workshop. They are from Kosmo!, Utusan Malaysia, New Straits Times, Bernama, Radio and Televisyen Malaysia (RTM), Makkal Osai, Sinar Harian, TV AlHijrah and Media Prima.
The aim of this workshop and the one in Malacca is to create a platform for discussing mechanism for cooperation between media, civil society and government agencies in countering violent extremism. The training is aimed at building knowledge of media representatives in reporting on terrorism and extremism issues and enhancing interaction of the government agencies and media in highlighting these global threats.
The workshop will provide opportunity to participants to discuss issues and problems of mass media in reporting on extremism and terrorism related issues – their narratives and counter narratives; understand the legal framework of containing and preventing terrorism; discuss in general how to write special reportages and how, as messenger of information and news stories, avoid propaganda when sharing information on terrorism and terrorist groups with your respective media organizations’ audiences.
Ladies and gentlemen,
In the next two day and a half, words like violent extremism, radicalisation, de-radicalisation, terrorism, narrative and counter narrative will be made familiar to you by a number of expert and credible speakers that we have line-up in this workshop. They are from SEARCCT, The Malaysian Royal Police, The Ministry of Home Affairs, Pacific Daily News, Guam, Fat Bidin Media. I would like to thank these organisations for providing authoritative resource person to share their knowledge and experiences with the participants of this workshop.
Before the speakers have their say, let me take this opportunity to highlight the simple meaning of these terms and words so that all of us will be on the same page, so to speak, when listening to speakers’ presentation.
As you know, violent extremism and terrorism are as old as mankind itself. In lay man term, terrorism simply means the use of violent to achieve political aims or to force government to act. Violent can manifest itself in two forms: involving physical force that is intended to hurt or kill and showing a very strong emotion towards something.
Radicalization refers to a process by which a normal person, like you and I, accepts the use of undemocratic or violent means, including terrorism, in an attempt to reach a specific ideological objective. On the hand de-radicalization is a process in which people reject the ideology that they once embraced. Often de-radicalization occurs when people’s commitment to specific ideology or political objective decreases or was abandon altogether. So, de-radicalization in one step further than disengagement which is characterised by a change in behaviour or stop using violence and leaving the radical group without giving up one’s radical belief.
Narrative is a spoken or written account of connected events, real or imaginary of certain topic or issue. A counter-narrative is a message and a positive alternative to extremist propaganda or alternatively aims to deconstruct or delegitimise extreme narratives.
So as media practitioners, where do we stand in covering CVE and radicalization leading to terrorism? Well as journalist, we are duty bound to report objectively, accurately and truthfully as far as violent extremism and terrorism related issues are concerned.
But providing truth to the general populace is not without its negative repercussions. We, journalists, often could not control how our audience will react to our messages. When we relay the terrorist’s message of ideology and threats to the masses, we are, possibly, indirect messengers to their cause. The media provides useful networks for this terrorist group to relay and amplify their message of fear, which the terrorist lack to begin with, to the civil society. Indirectly, we’ve become conduits which serve and strengthen the terrorist’s propaganda machine.
Furthermore, different individuals will react differently to the message, it is also possible, that they sympathise the terrorist’s cause and support the group’s cause. Therefore how we frame and set the agenda for our report is crucial. We might possibly become an unintended platform that legitimises these violent terrorist groups.
But generally, the effect of the terror embedded message shared by the media has fulfilled its intended effect. We journalist might believe that we are cautioning the civil society about this group have in the opposite spread unfettered fears and panics to the general populace.
Truth in this context will cost us more than benefit us. With a deep sense of understanding on how these messages might negatively impact our society, we, the journalists, must frame our report judiciously. We must find an ethical balance, between informing and cautioning the civil society, supporting and evaluating the policies of the government, and countering the terrorist’s narratives. This trilemma is real and there are not fast and hard rules to apply to the situation. We, the journalists must understand our roles and impact holistically to the rest of the society.