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Paris Attacks: Lessons learned from Charlie Hebdo

As the terrorist attacks in Paris on Friday night shook the world, global media rushed to report on the unfolding story. It seems lessons learned from the coverage of the Charlie Hebdo massacre and Jewish supermarket hostage siege in January, ensured most reporters and news organisations were better prepared and able to tell an accurate story.

by Nick Tjaardstra nick.tjaardstra@wan-ifra.org | November 17, 2015

Safety concerns during Paris attacks
On the evening of the attacks, journalist Arzu Cakir Morin from CNN Turk was on the streets. The affected zones were quickly sealed off and only the police and reporters remained. Safety was a concern as the terrorists were still at large. “I really thought about my family because the terrorists were still in the streets,” says Cakir Morin, but as a Turkish journalist, she is “used to doing this type of coverage”.

“Now, the security is very tight,” says Christophe Giltay, Grand Reporter at RTL Belgium. “There is a lot of police presence, identity checks in the streets, and military.” With regards to his own safety, he says he feels okay.

 

Extra caution after Charlie Hebdo 
The difference with these attacks is that anonymous people are targeted. “Charlie Hebdo was an attack against us”, said one AFP reporter who prefers not to be named. This time, the newsroom emphasized taking extra care on what was being reported: “We were very cautious and we were told that this is not a race, we are aiming for accuracy, this is why we are here.”

“We are not trying to be faster than Twitter,” an AFP reporter.

Aurore Cloe Dupuis, a journalist at France24 also covered the Charlie Hebdo attacks. She says “we have to be careful about the information we put out. Back then some media weren’t very careful and gave the hostages’ location away.”

 

Paris Attacks: Lessons learned from Charlie Hebdo

Safety concerns during Paris attacks
On the evening of the attacks, journalist Arzu Cakir Morin from CNN Turk was on the streets. The affected zones were quickly sealed off and only the police and reporters remained. Safety was a concern as the terrorists were still at large. “I really thought about my family because the terrorists were still in the streets,” says Cakir Morin, but as a Turkish journalist, she is “used to doing this type of coverage”.

“Now, the security is very tight,” says Christophe Giltay, Grand Reporter at RTL Belgium. “There is a lot of police presence, identity checks in the streets, and military.” With regards to his own safety, he says he feels okay.

Extra caution after Charlie Hebdo 
The difference with these attacks is that anonymous people are targeted. “Charlie Hebdo was an attack against us”, said one AFP reporter who prefers not to be named. This time, the newsroom emphasized taking extra care on what was being reported: “We were very cautious and we were told that this is not a race, we are aiming for accuracy, this is why we are here.”

“We are not trying to be faster than Twitter,” an AFP reporter.

Aurore Cloe Dupuis, a journalist at France24 also covered the Charlie Hebdo attacks. She says “we have to be careful about the information we put out. Back then some media weren’t very careful and gave the hostages’ location away.”

Less user-generated content
“There was much less user-generated photos and video used,” says Alastair Reid, Managing Editor at FirstDraftNews.com, a coalition of organisations that aims to help journalists verify user-generated content. He thinks it’s because people were panicking and trying to save their lives. They did not have time to take pictures or record video.

George Brock, Professor of Journalism at City University in the UK also noticed that media has been more careful in obscuring sensitive content on citizen-generated material. This comes as a result to the video of the French policeman who was killed during the Charlie Hebdo attack, which led to a public outcry. Brock noticed that media, this time, were very quick and systematic in debunking what was wrong and misleading on the Internet and social media.

Report by Ingrid Cobben & Chia Lun Huang