Ten years after the attacks of 11 September 2001, international media need an East–West consensus – and not just with regard to the usage of key terms. Common standards and ethical norms are indispensable for reporting in crisis situations. A commentary by Loay Mudhoon
How can international media such as BBC World, Al-Jazeera, Deutsche Welle or France 24 successfully provide objective and balanced reports at times of crisis and during conflicts? How can they serve to defuse conflicts beyond national and cultural boundaries? Ten years after the epochal shock to the consciousness caused by 9/11, can western and Muslim media makers agree on common professional standards and clear ethical standards for reporting? Moreover, can they aim to reach consensus over the usage of controversial terms such as “martyrs”, “Islamist terrorism” and “targeted killing”? After all, while on the one hand we are witnessing the internationalisation of communication, on the other, reporting is increasingly conducted from the cultural standpoint of individual broadcasters.
At the very latest since the major dispute about the Danish Mohammed cartoons in 2005/06, which went down in history as a turning point in relations between Europe and the Islamic world, these questions have been at the heart of the debate over the role of such media in an international context. After all, this conflict made it quite plain to us just how great the potential for cross-border escalation can be when sensitive issues are tackled without the required cultural understanding and background knowledge.