Really annoyed that people are attacking the BBC and the media for ‘covering up’ the numbers of deaths at Grenfell Tower. As someone who has had to make decisions about what numbers to use and what headlines to run after a major disaster that affected the town where I was an editor, I know the weight of responsibility that does – and should – bear down on you. Going with a high number that has been bandied about because you know that will get the most attention is irresponsible click bait of the worst kind. The impact of publishing a wrong number is massive – it exaggerates the scale of an already appalling human tragedy and then becomes the story itself when the focus should be on helping the survivors and relatives. In addition, the bigger and more complex the tragedy, the harder it is to establish a fixed number of dead. For many days after the Paddington rail crash, there were fears there were many more deaths than the 31 actually killed. By fixating on an absolute number when it was actually impossible to determine one, both the media and the police became unintentionally complicit in misinforming the public. Indeed, in the debrief that followed, protocols were strengthened that tried to avoid this happening in the future.
Instead of fixating on ‘media conspiracies’ that are nothing of the kind, I suggest critics support and encourage the kind of responsible journalism that is ensuring the spotlight falls on those responsible and what needs to be done to prevent a disaster like Grenfell Tower from ever happening again.
Theresa Caruana:- How many people, known to live in the tower block are missing? Not difficult to answer with a reasonable figure.
After the terror attack at London Bridge, those who were missing were reported as such and then it was reported that they had been found dead.
This is not what’s happening in this case and is causing huge anger and anxiety for the people who matter most.