In light of the recent turmoil in Egypt, the board of directors of the World Association for Christian Communication (WACC), during a 16 August online meeting, expressed sorrow at the grievous loss of life, tearing apart of communities, and the destruction to churches and mosques.
They also highlighted the attacks on media workers and the role of the media in reporting the conflict and enabling the scale of destruction to be understood in context.
Condemning the violence on all sides, WACC called on mass and community media in the country and the Middle East Region to provide responsible and balanced media coverage in an effort to avoid further violence.
“WACC members around the world have contacted the WACC Global office and have been voicing their concerns in the belief that open dialogue and communication are vital to bringing about a peaceful resolution to the conflict. They have specifically criticised the way some media outlets have pursued a spurious narrative of victimisation,” said General Secretary Karin Achtelstetter.
In a press release issued on 16 August, WACC member Sat-7, a Christian television network in the Middle East and North Africa, called for Egypt to be governed for the benefit of all its citizens, with people of different persuasions able to live alongside one another peaceably. It also affirmed the need for Egyptian Christians to have the opportunity to play an increasingly prominent and effective role in addressing the needs of all Egyptians and helping to bring healing and reconciliation in the country.
A major concern is the way journalists have been targeted during the violence of the past few days. WACC urged the Egyptian government, its security forces and demonstrators to respect freedom of the press and to protect media personnel.
A second concern is the coverage of recent events in Egypt by both state-owned and private media that has resulted in young activists launching alternative media outlets using social networks, WACC said. A number of online platforms have become the main source of revolution-related news across Egypt, competing against the online portals of daily newspapers.
These alternative news sources have attracted more than a million followers on Twitter and Facebook, but the danger is that, while appearing more authentic, they can still be biased in their coverage. In particular, foreign news agencies relying on such content need to exercise extreme caution to avoid misreporting.
WACC has urged those who use digital platforms and social media to follow professional guidelines of honesty, fairness, transparency and accountability. In an environment in which external controls are almost wholly absent, the responsible exercise of freedom of expression becomes crucial
WACC also expressed its solidarity with its members and partners and all people in Egypt who are working in support of human rights and for peace and justice.
* World Association for Christian Communication - http://waccglobal.org/en/home.html