A teenage girl was abducted yesterday, and is currently being held for ransom.
An unidentified gang which kidnapped a 15-year-old daughter of a millionaire Tamil businessman in Negombo yesterday is demanding a ransom of Rs.4 million for her release, police said.
I am not going to make any speculations as to who did it, or if a white van was used. That is not what bothered me. Now I do feel extremely sorry for the girl. It must be a terrible ordeal for her. And i also wonder why on earth the elder brother escaped and left his younger sister alone with the kidnappers! I would never leave my sister and run away even if a chance presented itself. But what irritated me even more was this statement in the Daily Mirror:
Negombo police Inspector D. W. Silva said they had already deployed a special team to track down the suspects.
This is a kidnapping for ransom of a little girl. It is traumatic enough for her. The kidnappers are nervous enough already. The situation is already volatile. What logic, what commonsense, what sort of misplaced, misguided thinking would prompt the inspector to tell the media that he has deployed a special team, and why would the journalist get it published. Are they trying to show that public that they have a ‘special team’? Do they want the kidnappers to know that there is a ‘special team’ after them? Do they want to make the kidnappers nervous, and scare them into cutting their losses, killing the girl, dumping her body some where and vanishing without a trace?
A situation which requires the utmost tact is treated so callously. The word ‘fool’ pops into my mind along with a lot of other words. In caps. And in bold.
I read a report titled Media Coverage of Acts of Terrorism which had a few examples of irresponsible media behaviour.
There have been cases in which hostages were endangered or killed because of the urge for journalistic scoops. During the 45 days of the kidnapping of Hanns Martin Shleyer in 1997 the German media refused, on the whole, to co-operate with the terrorists and instead abided by the authorities’ directives. They went to the undersired extreme of not reporting any developments in this tragic affair. At the same time, there were some breaches of this news blackout. ‘Der Stern’ magazine, in its September 19, 1977, edition, reported that the government remained firm in its decision not to succumb to the terrorists’ demands, and that it was to have entered into mock negotiations to play for time. This report could have endangered the life of Schleyer. When the kidnappers saw that the government was unwilling to negotiate, they approached Schleyer’s son, who was ready to pay $15 million for the release of his father. The German news agency DPA revealed this and also mentioned the time and place of the transaction. Hundreds of journalists flooded the Hotel Intercontinental in Frankfurt. The terrorists, of course, could not carry out the deal. Four days later, Schleyer’s body was found. (Horchern, 1987)
You could take the 1972 Olympics incident as another example. As the German police prepared to storm the building, the East German television broadcast the whole incident live, showing the police making preparations, and each room had a television. It was lucky that they called the assault off.
The whole point of media, should not be to simply grab the biggest scoop, or to see who can shovel dirt faster. Don’t get me wrong, I think free media is absolutely essential to a democracy. But a certain accountability is necessary. Temper that with a bit of common sense and a pinch of sympathy, and we’d all have an easier time.