Finding accurate facts can be a challenge...
Do you know the real risks in every part of the world? Do you have one trusted source of information, or do you follow a few different media houses online? It’s becoming more difficult to know who we can rely on for information, and there have been claims that the media under-reports on terrorism. Should we be concerned, and what can we do to be more aware of what’s really going on?
The current inquest into the June 2015 Sousse beach shooting has highlighted the fact that many travellers rely on tour operators for information, or assume a destination is safe unless they’re advised to the contrary.
There had been a tragic attack only a few months earlier in Tunis, in which 23 people were killed and 47 wounded. Was there sufficient awareness that a risk existed when people departed for their June holidays, or did tour operators mistakenly assure travellers that they were not in any danger? The inquest will decide, but what can we learn from this awful event?
Our take is that ultimately, we must each decide if a level of risk is acceptable to us or not, and in order to do that, we need to be fully informed. We need to do our own research, weigh up the risks, and look into possible ways of protecting against that risk, such as travel insurance that covers acts of terrorism. We also need to plan ahead and be prepared in case we are faced with an emergency situation.
Where’s The Information?
Tunisia raises another important question in terms of travellers’ awareness of acts of terrorism and the risk of attacks. Can we rely on the media to keep us fully informed?
The short answer: we believe we can to a large extent, but we should be wary of limiting our reading to one publication.
The earlier attack in Tunisia had certainly been covered by the media, but there may not have been ongoing reports on the safety situation. It’s nobody’s fault; that’s simply how the media works, and there are other places to find that information.
The UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) website is a key source of travel safety information and is updated regularly throughout the day and night. If anything happens from Afghanistan to Zambia, you can be pretty sure it’ll be reported by the FCO, and any changes in risk levels or travel advice will be advised – often before a story is even picked up by the papers.
The March 2015 shooting in Tunis is one of the attacks listed in President Donald Trump’s recent claim that the media under-reports acts of terrorism, following which a list of 78 incidents was published by the White House.
A number of media houses, including The Mirror and the New York Times, have published this list along with links to their own and other media coverage of these events. There was indeed coverage of the majority of the incidents on the list, including the March 2015 shooting – click here to view one of the articles. You can also read The Mirror’s full response here, and the New Your Times’ response here.
We noted that the list of “under-reported” attacks includes the Paris attacks of November 2015, which was covered in detail by almost every publication around the world.
Many incidents on this list had also been covered in our weekly Safe Journey Travel Alerts. These alerts also cover broader travel safety issues such as natural disasters, helping you to keep up to date with what's happening around the world – visit our home page to subscribe.
How Much Can You Read?
It’s clear that the information is out there, but we’re only human and there’s a limit to the amount of reading we can do every day, so we all have to be selective.
The truth is, there are many incidents all around the world, on a weekly (sometimes even daily) basis, and it would be impossible for one person to know about every single event, or for one publication to cover them all. Each editor must decide which stories to include – so there’s no guarantee that news of a specific country or incident will appear in your regular newspaper.
What’s more, an attack or incident may be reported on but doesn’t make the front page, and as our natural reading pattern focuses on the headlines, it’s easy to miss those stories on the later pages.
When it comes to online media, it’s even easier to miss something that isn’t a major headline, as “secondary” stories quickly lose their place on the home page and can only be seen if they’re searched for.
What Can We Do?
Information is just a few clicks away… Here are some guidelines:
- Don’t believe everything you read: make sure you follow reliable news sources and verify sensationalist stories that appear on social media.
- Check local news sources for the town or city you’re planning to visit, and for the country in general.
- Look for political unrest, crime, and hazardous weather conditions, as well as terrorism or attempted attacks.
- Visit the FCO website and check if any advice or updates have been issued.
- Check your destination AND your travel route, for example if you’re flying to Sydney via Singapore, check news and travel advice for both.
- Do your research before you book a trip and before you depart, as situations can change.
- Subscribe to Safe Journey’s weekly travel alerts for a summary of travel-related safety from around the world.
- Top up your travel insurance with comprehensive cover for acts of terrorism – from only £4.96 per person, for a single trip of up to 8 days! Only Safe Journey enables you to cancel a trip if there is an act of terrorism within 40 miles of your destination, up to 6 weeks prior to your departure*!
Being aware and informed is our best strategy. Be prepared and make every journey safer.
*Please note: these details are a summary only. For full details of Safe Journey cover, terms, conditions and exclusions, please read our full Policy Wording.
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