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Friday 31 December 2004

Draft Guidelines For The Media On Reporting On The Tsunami Disaster

From the Blog of the Psychosocial Support Program, Sri Lanka

The following draft guidelines have been provided to the Psychosocial Support Programme of the IWTHI Trust (Tel: +94 11 4516408/ + 94 11 4515279; Email: pspcp@eol.lk/ pspdat@eol.lk). Please feel free to send in comments via email or the link provided below. The guidelines will be updated as we receive comments or additional insights from those active on the ground in Sri Lanka.

# Remember that the disaster is a national issue so that partisan or other vested interests must not be considered in reporting and/or commentary…

# Remember that the disaster is regional in scope so that the relief, reconstruction and rehabilitation work must be placed in context when reporting and/or commenting…

# Remember that the disaster is international in the attention it has and will receive so that reporting and/or commenting will reflect the state of the nation, affect its national developmental agenda, and impact the responses of the global community in crucial matters of aid and relief…

# Report and/or comment responsibly, reasonably and fairly keeping in mind not to sensationalise, speculate or generalise…

# Report and/or comment equitably keeping in mind that the people affected are from all races, religions, communities and geographical areas…

# Report and/or comment accurately yet positively keeping in mind the critical and crucial role that the media can play in the national effort to restore, reconstruct and rehabilitate Sri Lanka…

# Report and/or comment sensitively keeping in mind that lives have been lost, livelihoods irreparably damaged, property irrevocably lost and future prospects inestimably compromised…

# Reporting and/or comment with an emphasis of expectation that normal recovery will eventually take place for communities that have been affected – keeping in mind that emphasising losses will increase the sense of hopelessness and despair that people feel…

# Report and/or comment in ways that are reassuring and empathic about people and their current situations – keeping in mind that people are normally expected to exhibit stress reactions at this time; as also that being confused, sad and anxious are natural signs of shock and stress… as are crying, screaming or anger; and also that these are not signs of psychiatric impact or trauma…

# Report and/or comment humanely keeping in mind that people in these circumstances may still retain a sense of hope and humour, and may be active in reorganising their lives; as also that it is not a sign of ignorance or indifference if people who are affected smile or appreciate what they do have left…

# Report and/or comment while being mindful of human dignity while remaining sensitive and aware of the repercussions of depicting mutilated and decomposed bodies, as family members of the deceased who may view these in the media could be further distressed…

# Resolve to be sensitive in interviewing people keeping in mind not to ask them unnecessary personal questions, or force them to talk; as also allowing them to share what they would like to, even if it doesn’t make ‘good copy’…

Provided to the PSP of the IWTHI Trust by a Journalist who wishes to remain anonymous

31st December 2004

From the Blog of the Psychosocial Support Program, Sri Lanka

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