Pamela Baggett: Communication in Times of Crisis
During her speech on crisis communication, Baggett spoke of the power the media can hold and warned against journalistic pitfalls and what she refers to as ‘Gang Journalism.’
“You see it all the time. One station reports something, and five minutes later the same thing is on every news channel,” she said.
The major problem with ‘Gang Journalism,’ according to Baggett, is the conflict it creates with journalistic ethics. Journalists are supposed to find a story or angle that no one else has thought to cover, then verify, verify, verify.
Baggett says it’s too easy to get caught up in the whirlwind of breaking-news and not check to see if it’s actual, factual breaking-news. Journalists can become too concentrated on the idea that “he who presents the message first, wins,’ instead of focusing on presenting true, honest news.
“It always happens. One station will go out and find the one person that will say ‘this is the worst I’ve ever seen it,’ and it may be one person in a million, but they found that one person and they dwell on it,” said Baggett.
Baggett says that there is a story in the one person in a million, but in times of crisis it does not always help to focus on it. She said that it can add unnecessary stress to an already stressful situation and undermined the relief effort.
Baggett said the job of journalism is “to make the comfortable, uncomfortable,” however to do so with discretion.
“Decide now what your ethics are,” she said. “Because once you lose your credit, it’s almost impossible to get it back. It takes a monumental event to change that.”