EgyptAir hijack: A tough media call
Journalism wasn’t my chosen career; I fell into it. But I absolutely love what I do. Most of the time. Getting the facts to the people, breaking the news, inspiring and informing – all things I enjoy no end. However, occasionally, being part of the media has a darker side. And even while my team raced to bring the public every facet of the recent EgyptAir hijacking, my mind turned to the human element.
As the world’s eyes turned to Cyprus, and we were all glued to our screens, a very human situation began to unfold. Mixed feelings surfaced: here was I cracking on with the job as the exigencies of a crisis-hit region were brought right into our very homes. As details continued to emerge and our team handled every development with professional calm, one couldn’t help but feel for the family caught up in the midst. There it was, plastered across every screen: the name of the hijacker’s ex-wife, ‘Marina from Oroklini’.
The media jumped at the chance for an exclusive, tracking down the woman like hunting dogs. It made me pause. This was a woman, with a family. A native of a small town in a small country who unwittingly – and probably unwontedly – had been thrown into the public eye. One can’t help but feel for her.
So as SigmaLive English, we made a decision. There are times when one must respect the individual’s right to privacy, and none more so than this. We didn’t try to find her, we didn’t publish a picture, or run with the details of her – and her family’s - life. Over the last few days, of course, various media outlets have raced to be the first to print every facet, every last word on this woman that could be found. The internet has filled with memes and pictures which I find frankly uncomfortable, when you think of the human aspect.
But, here at SigmaLive English, we didn’t think it necessary to force a woman who had clearly tried to move away from a difficult situation to relive her past. And, despite the pressures of the job, I’m glad we stood up to the challenge of not being swayed into giving more than the facts. As a journalist, you have to make tough calls every day; deciding to respect the privacy of a local family who have been through more than enough was not one of them.