CNN’s Richard Quest defends the role of media in crisis reporting

EVEN if it may negatively impact tourism, news presenter Richard Quest made a case for media’s responsibility to accurately report what is happening on the ground during disasters.

Speaking to TTG Asia e-Daily on the sidelines of PATA’s 60th Anniversary & Conference in Beijing last week, the business travel specialist said: “The tourism industry would rather us shut our eyes to the unpleasantness, but we cannot pretend and wish things were normal. We have a responsibility to be honest.”

He added that the element of realism should prevail. “The travel industry is all about selling dreams and experiences. All too often, however, the industry blinds itself to certain impracticalities and realities.

“Some travellers would say it’s the perfect time to go to Japan, what with bargain flights and all, but honestly, would you want to go on a nice luxury holiday to Japan at the moment? Would you really want to go on a holiday in a country where there is a civil war or disaster?”

Quest also denied that the media often resorts to sensationalisation to attract more viewers.

“When a crisis happens, the expenditure for CNN goes through the roof,” he explained. “We have to fly people and equipment to location. The advertising revenue also goes down due to the increased frequency of breaking news segments.”

Quest, who over the last two decades has covered a variety of stories from Yasser Arafat’s demise to the Lockerbie bombing, said that he treads more carefully when it comes to crisis reporting.

“I ask myself: What is happening in the country at the moment? What is it exactly that I am saying? What are the effects of this is going to be? Could somebody interpret this as not being safe to be here?”

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