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London bombing story is being stretched out

*** The mass media is being drip-fed information by the police, creating a death toll that rises slowly day-by-day. The government told hospitals to refer people looking for missing loved-ones to a central telephone help line, but the helpline is not able to tell people whether or not missing persons are safely in hospital or not. As a result many people are experiencing prolonged anguish, and the mass media is reporting their stories. In the tabloids for the next few weeks there will be a new harrowing story every day. ***

Media frustrated by official death figures

Media organisations have expressed concern over the handling of official announcements about the number of fatalities in yesterday's London tube and bus bombings.

Some media executives believe the reluctance of the government and police to give firm figures on the number of deaths led to conflicting reports and confusion.

Today's newspapers quoted a range of figures for the death toll from yesterday's atrocities, ranging from 37 - the official number of fatalities overnight, according to British authorities - to more than 50, which has now been confirmed by the the commissioner of the Metropolitan police, Sir Ian Blair.

The ITV News editor-in-chief, David Mannion, said he had been called yesterday by a Home Office PR demanding that a newsflash saying that at least 20 people had died be taken down.

"I said we wouldn't take it down, because we'd got the figure from an authoritative government source," he said.

Throughout yesterday, UK broadcasters were citing newswire reports quoting foreign government officials - who said the death toll was higher than that officially being admitted by the British police and government.

At around 7.30pm yesterday, Sky News carried a Reuters report of a French government minister saying there were 50 dead in the London bombings and claiming the home secretary, Charles Clarke, as their source.

"Our sense is that the Home Office and the police have adopted an unwritten rule that they will never announce an increase in the number of fatalities until they have contacted the relatives," said one senior news executive.

"You can understand them wanting a degree of control. But the problem is, in a situation like this, it leaves people without a point of reference. I think we're all grown up enough to be told."

"I'm sure they're doing it for the best reasons. But it's something that needs looking at when the dust settles."


The Guardian, "Media frustrated by official death figures", 8 July 2005.


The Guardian, "Papers respond quickly to London attacks", 8 July 2005.
    The timing of the London bombings meant most national newspapers had time to plan the logistics of producing today's editions.

"The Insider" mailing list article, 08 July 2005.

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Tags: London, bombing, death-toll, rising, slowly, prolonged, media, manipulation, news, management, , conspiracy theories.

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