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Past event

ICCT Live Briefing: After the Attack: Crisis Communication Strategy and the Role of the Media - 25 June


On Thursday, June 25 2020, the International Centre for Counter-Terrorism (ICCT) hosted an online Live Briefing, followed by a Q&A session.


The terrible events of the Christchurch mosque attacks on March 15 2019, in which consecutive attacks were carried out by a lone gunman against two mosques during Friday prayers, shocked the world. The attack gained particular notoriety as the perpetrator live-streamed the first attack on Facebook Live. In the hours and days that followed technology companies struggled to stop the spread of the video and the attacker’s manifesto online. The attacks demonstrated a close and complex relationship between new and traditional media: the perpetrator used social media platforms prior to and during the attacks, but his propaganda material only became viral after it was reported – and reproduced – by traditional outlets.

Terrorism and communication have always been inextricably linked. In order to achieve their goals, terrorists seek to promote their acts of violence to as wide an audience as possible, whether seeking to radicalise potential recruits, or aiming to spread fear through society they can stand to gain from media coverage of their acts. This poses substantial challenges to journalists covering terrorist groups and their attacks. When reporting on terrorism, journalists run the risk of providing terrorists with the coverage they crave. Deepened by the speed of information delivery on social media, the ever-growing thirst for news in real time can leave journalists at risk of amplifying the terrorist threat.

This shows the need for developing effective communication strategies and importance of the role of media reporting in the aftermath of terrorist attacks is now beginning to be recognized, but progress has been limited, and largely restricted to a Western perspective. This webinar seeks to expand the conversation, bringing in experiences and insights from non-western counties, including experiences from Sri Lanka (2019 Easter attacks) and Nigeria (2016 Chibok schoolgirls kidnapping).



  • Keynote: Lessons from Christchurch
    • Cherie Blithe – Senior Communications Advisor, Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (New Zealand)
  • Panel Discussion: Reporting in the Aftermath: Lessons from Africa and South Asia
    • Rukshana Rizwie – Journalist (Project Researcher), Sri Lanka
    • Kayode Isaac Adebiyi – Correspondent, The News Agency of Nigeria (Project Researcher)
  • Closing Remarks
    • Alastair Reed – Associate Professor in Counter-Terrorism at Swansea University and TU Delft, ICCT Associate Fellow

Chair: Joana Cook, ICCT Senior Project Manager



This webinar is part of a wider project, led by the International Centre for Counter- Terrorism (ICCT) – the Hague, and funded by the EU Devco on “Mitigating the Impact of Media Reporting of Terrorism”. Earlier, ICCT organised two roundtables, bringing together journalists working on the ground reporting on terrorism, and the second brought together traditional and social media representatives to discuss editorial challenges.

This project aims to produce evidence-based guidance and capacity building outputs based on original, context-sensitive research into the risks and opportunities in media reporting of terrorism and terrorist incidents. The role of media reporting on terrorism has been under investigated and is an underutilised dimension of a holistic counter-terrorism strategy. How the media reports on terrorism has the potential to impact counter-terrorism (CT) perspective positively or negatively.


For further reading on strategic communications, read the following recent publications by ICCT: