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DMU expert shares insight from new report into the role of the media in times of crisis

Recommendations by a researcher at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have been used to help shape best practice for the media in times of crisis in an international policy resolution. 

Dr Giuliana Tiripelli, Senior Lecturer in Digital Journalism and Media Discourse at DMU, was commissioned by the Committee on Culture, Science, Education and Media of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) to produce a report exploring how the media responds to catastrophic events or periods of uncertainty.  

Giuliana Tiripelli
Dr Giuliana Tiripelli

She illustrated the ways in which traditional and digital media had been used during times of crisis in the past and, more recently, during the Covid-19 pandemic, when the media was highlighted as a crucial tool for informing the public, stimulating debate, analysing solutions and facilitating communication. 

“Times of crisis are times in which the links between social and individual life come to the fore and the ‘social contract’ is put under test,” she outlines in her report.  

“Ideally, the media should help the public make sense of change and understand what new choices need to be made at the individual and social level, in order to support a peaceful and fair transition to a new – temporary or permanent – organisation of social life, minimising the potential damages caused by the crisis.” 

PACE is the deliberative body of the Council of Europe, to which parliamentarians are appointed by the national parliaments of the Assembly's 47 member states. The Assembly debates current social problems and aspects of international politics. 

Following an extensive review of existing literature and by speaking with experts, Dr Tiripelli came up with a number of recommendations in her report for the PACE to consider in their resolution for improving best practice for the media during times of crisis, including: 

  • Strengthening an international network of national and local public media services involving institutions, services, experts and civil society; 

  • Supporting focused training for science journalists that covers the social sciences as well as the hard sciences; 

  • Regulating social media to prevent powerful digital businesses becoming centres of political power; 

  • Guaranteeing stable and paid positions in public and freelance journalism. 

Dr Tiripelli continued: “The role of the media entails collecting and sharing a representative range of views about a problem and its solutions, to help institutions shape final decisions that could be reflected upon, understood, and supported by a large part of the population.”  

For this reason, Dr Tiripelli emphasises the role of solution-focused approaches in journalism and recommends member states support training and practice of constructive journalism approaches, and journalistic coverage of both local and global contextualisation and narratives, while discouraging nationalistic frames in the media. 

Following a review of Dr Tiripelli’s report, the PACE has since published its official non-binding Resolution (n. 2419) for the role of the media during times of crisis, including recommendations for the Assembly’s member states to consider and implement accordingly. 

Dr Tiripelli added: “My report brings together a variety of experts’ insights, previous research, and constructive approaches into a new policy document, which institutions can easily transform into regional policies. It speaks to many different countries about how the media can contribute to delivering sustainable social life, at a very delicate and tense time for the entire world.  

“If politicians really want to face the current global challenges of our planet by leading peaceful communities and strong institutions in the next few months and years, their comprehensive application of this research is now overdue.”

Posted on Monday 28th March 2022

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