The Institute for Strategic Dialogue launched a new report on Friday on the way Muslims are covered in the media in the UK and Germany. It was sparked by concerns that the growth of specialist media – especially that aimed specifically at Muslims – could lead towards the development of parallel media societies. It involved focus groups with journalists in both mainstream and specialist/Muslim media, focus groups with media consumers (Muslims and non-Muslims), and a survey of media consumers in the UK and Germany.
The key findings were:
- There is no such thing as a parallel media society in terms of news and current affairs coverage. Both Muslims and Muslims still rely on a small number of mainstream media outlets for their news, and consumer roughly the same amount of current affairs from specialist outlets.
- Muslims rarely consume media on the basis of their religion or as a religious community – but they do, like other groups, rely on it for languages, diaspora links, and special interests.
- The Internet and social media are important for all groups, especially as a go to place to check media coverage from other sources.
- All groups believe that coverage of Muslims in the media is negative and stereotyped, but especially in Germany and among Muslims. Consumers were easily able to recall negative news stories about Muslims, but not positive ones.
- Journalists accepted that this negative portrayal was disproportionate to the balance of reality – but didn’t on the whole recognise that their own organisations were guilty of negative portrayal.
- Media consumers also feel that Muslims are underrepresented in the media, both in front of and behind the camera.
- There was broad agreement that the media – amongst other things – has an impact on community relations on the ground. It impacts on the perceptions of Muslims, relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and sometimes real life events are affected.
- There is a need for critical media consumption – and also critical media production. This was recognised by both consumers and producers alike.
- But overall, most people felt that the media has the potential to have an enormously positive effect on community relations.
The research will be published along with a policy brief with detailed policy and practical recommendations in the next month or so. A further discussion event will be held in Germany in May. Get in touch if you would like more information about this project.
The Norweigan Central Evaluation Commission has published its review into police handling of the violent attacks of 22 July 2011 in Norway, which resulted in 77 deaths and many injuries. The English translation of the summary can be found here.
The main findings and recommendations are:
- Notification by red alert: The police need to review and improve their alert system.
- Situation reporting: The police need to improve situation reporting skills, focusing on verifying information, making sure the information is relevant for the superior lead, and highlighting information that is new since the last situation report.
- Organisation, direction and coordination: There is mixed capability from area to area to respond to an event of this kind, and some areas had not updated their response plans. There is a need to consider introducing requirements as to minimum police staffing and skills, and there should be more attention on district-to-district peer support. The police needs to introduce a nation-wide emergency communications system due to communications problems experienced during the event, and several other IT and communications systems should be revamped. Police need to provide more training in incident management. There was good coordination between police and other partners on the ground. Overall, the Commission finds that the police carried out their duties as promptly as possible under the circumstances.
- Management of evacuees and family/friends: Family and friends have been positive about the support they received from police in the immediate aftermath of the event, and centres for evacuees and family/friends were rapidly set up. But confusion was caused because several hotline numbers were released, people were confused about which one to use, and cooperation with the public health services caused frustration.
- Public relations: There was confusion about which police district was handling press and media enquiries, and the Commission recommends that where more than one police district is affected by an incident the National Police Directorate should play a greater role in coordination. More user-friendly software is needed for posting information on the public police website, and insufficient attention was devoted to public relations challenges in the restoration-of-normality phase.
- Health and safety: The Commission recommends that local Health and Safety plans be developed further.
There is a great piece in today’s Telegraph magazine on the rise of piracy and kidnapping off the coast of Somalia.
It states that:
- Piracy and kidnapping have risen: International Maritime Bureau statistics show that in 2006 there were 10 attacks (5 success hijacks) but by 2008 there were 111 attacks and 42 hijacks. In 2010 there were 219 attacks and 49 ships were hijacked.
- Concerted efforts are having an impact: there were just 25 successful hijacks. The British Royal Navy estimates that 30 per cent of the vessels transiting the Gulf of Aden have armed security on board, and no ships with armed guards have yet been successfully attacked.
- In 2012 so far there have been 4 ships hijacked and Somali pirates are currently holding 8 ships and 200 hostages.
- Piracy is a lucrative business: according to Oceans Beyond Piracy, the shipping industry paid Somali pirates $160 million in ransoms in 2011, with the average being $5 million.
- However, piracy is also costly for those involved: it has been estimated that it costs $25,000 to equip a pirate boat, which means it is now a well organised business on the whole.
- About 2.7 million square miles of Indian Ocean are vulnerable to pirates. With the number of vessels patrolling to protect the area, it is the equivalent of having 10 police cars monitoring the whole of Western Europe.
- The most notable British cases in recent years involving these pirate groups are Judith Tebbutt who was taken from Kenya and released in March 2012 and Paul and Rachel Chandler who were taken in October 2009 and held for 388 days.