Candles in the colours of the French flag outside the Bataclan concert hall, a single of the web sites of the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13 November. They had been lit in a ceremony to spend tribute to victims that was held on Friday, a week after the bombings and shootings. Photograph: Christian Hartmann/Reuters
While it is invidious to rank the bombings and shootings in Paris that killed 130 folks against other terrorist attacks, it is undoubtedly one of the most significant in Europe in recent years.
For any news organisation to give full and suitable coverage to acts so devastating is a challenge. As with 9/11 in the US or 7/7 in the UK, reporting is likely to appear beyond the physical blows to many other parts of the nation’s life.
There are aspects of the substantial coverage given by the Guardian to the attacks that I feel show an exciting shift in each the journalism and how it has been received by readers, especially online.
I consider it is significant that at the time of writing the readers’ editor’s office has received a reasonably modest quantity of emails commenting on the coverage, just 70. These have surely integrated complaints – I will return to them later – but numerous have been easy observations, recommendations or even praise.
Some of the complaints were from people who received a Saturday paper that had no news of the events in Paris the evening before. The initial reports came via also late for our first edition, which is printed at about 9pm for the west country and Scotland. As the scale of the attacks became apparent we ran a particular “slip” edition at 11pm, and by the end of the evening 63% of all the papers we printed carried coverage of the attacks. We sold 10,000 added copies on Saturday.
At the heart of the on the web coverage has been the live weblog, a strategy of telling a story that fuses original reporting, aggregated news and comment, which can seem also breathless if not written with care and restraint.
“Never incorrect for long” is not an acceptable maxim when millions of folks are seeking dependable information in a fog of rumour and claim alongside counterclaim.
A series of daily reside blogs rotated about the clock by means of Guardian offices in London, New York and Sydney. A critical aspect of the way they had been approached was the clear delineation in between what was actually identified and what was becoming reported but was unverified.
The reside blogs ran constantly for a week soon after the attacks, and the response from readers was extraordinary. On Friday 13 November, the evening of the attacks, among the initial post at 9.24pm and midnight (UK time) the first live blog was accountable for two.7m web page views. It went on to attain an additional 4m web page views on the Saturday – when there have been a total of 13m web page views for 75 things of content material on the Paris attacks launched that day.
Readers’ suspicions are frequently aroused when comments are not opened on a story. Very couple of stories about the Paris attacks had comments enabled more than the weekend. This was since there were really handful of moderators and, regrettably, a considerable number of individuals who wanted to leave Islamophobic comments, alongside the a lot of other folks who wanted to engage in reputable debate. A lot more than 2,500 comments had been posted on an early opinion piece by Natalie Nougayrède.
Photographs are, of course, an additional sensitive issue. By Saturday the employees on the picture desk had been reviewing 13,300 images. Roger Tooth, the head of photography, mentioned: “We did our very best to avoid bodies, and pixelated two faces of victims. We did steer clear of using video of a physique being dragged along an alley subsequent to the club.”
On the Opinion pages, a single factor taken into consideration was timing – judging when readers would be willing to engage with an notion that in the initial 24 hours following the attacks might have jarred. The thought that these horrific attacks have causes and that 1 of those causes may possibly be the west’s policies is something that in the immediate aftermath may well inspire anger. 3 days later, it is a point of view that ought to be heard.
Amongst the complaints were some goods points, several of them about language. For instance, many readers objected to the use of the word “mastermind” to describe Abdelhamid Abaaoud, as it appears to celebrate his achievements. I agree. Other folks were concerned that we had given insufficient prominence to the bombings in Beirut on 12 November, which killed 43 folks.
1 reader was disappointed that a function on the Muslim victims of the attack opened with this sentence when it was initial published on the internet: “Their Muslim faith did not spare them from the terrorists’ bullets.” The reader wrote: “I wonder what the writer was attempting to convey in the lead. Certainly this was not a selective attack, and surely it was not the intention of the attackers to only kill folks of one particular faith. Victims of terror constantly come from a wide cross-section of society, it hurts and hits everybody. So although you would be proper to carry a story saying Muslims also had been among those killed, in my view it is a bit insensitive to say their faith did not or could not save them. They had been certainly not hoping it would, and I guess we know that it doesn’t.”
I agree, and so did editors when the point was made to them. That line was removed inside hours and was not in print editions.
Journalists naturally want to be 1st with the news, but they have to balance that urge with the restraint essential to separate fact from speculation, particularly in a digital age. So far, I think the Guardian has carried out a great job in showing that restraint.