A Second Trauma: summary

Survivors Against Terror (SAT) surveyed survivors of UK terror attacks asking them of their experiences in dealing with the media.

SAT recognises the vital role the free media plays in keeping the public informed of terrorism and its impacts. However, this research has found that media intrusion into the grief and lives of the injured and bereaved is endemic across the media involving almost all major newspapers and broadcasters:

  • 59% of survivors said they had suffered media intrusion.
  • Complaints included intrusion, pestering and pressure, misrepresentation, and invasion of privacy.
  • Around 90% of survivors support reducing the focus on the terrorist’s names and identities.
  • Over 80% say videos made by terrorists should never be shown even in part.
  • And 98% agree that terrorist ‘manifestos’ shouldn’t be a high-profile part of media coverage.
  • Over half of survivors (52%) surveyed said they had also had positive experiences of working with the media.

Following the survey, SAT is calling for:

  • A voluntary agreement not to directly contact the bereaved and seriously injured for at least the first 48 hours following an attack.
  • No pictures should be used of the bereaved or seriously injured without family permission. There should be no use of pictures of family homes and no congregation outside the houses of the injured and bereaved.
  • The creation of a Survivors’ Support Hub to provide independent information and support to survivors of terror attacks.
  • In cases of malicious breaches, the Police (or a newly created Survivors Support Hub) should publicly name those outlets and exclude them from any arranged press briefings or interviews.
  • The creation of a new system to confirm fatalities once families have been informed and have been able to tell their loved ones. News outlets should agree not to report on their names until it is confirmed that loved ones have been informed.
  • IPSO, IMPRESS and OFCOM to agree and publish new guidance (including the above recommendations) that can then be incorporated by all media outlets. Editors need to be clear that there is a zero-tolerance approach to breaches.