Crises, as we saw in the Westgate Mall stand-off, breed chaos. The media’s role is to bring order to that chaos and deliver the information people need in order to understand the situation.
Several key data-driven questions would enable the audience to better understand the scope, reaction and consequences of the crisis. Even admitting when these questions have no answers can be valuable in understanding how far the investigation into the attack has advanced and identifying gaps.
These data categories would help the audience make sense of the terrorist attack and understand the steps that need to be taken going forward and anticipate risks and complications.
How many people have been killed or are missing?
What is the source of these numbers?
What is the methodology for these estimates? (Missing person report, confirmed report that the individual had been in the mall at the time of the attack, etc.)
Who and how were various groups producing estimates of the number of assailants?
Who and how were various groups determining nationality and gender of assailants?
Who and how were various groups determining the fate of the assailants?
How many were counted as killed and how was this information verified?
How many were counted as captured and where were they captured?
How many were counted as escaped and how was this information verified?
How many have been arrested for suspected involvement and with what evidence?
How many police officers were involved in the response and at what time?
How many military officials were involved and at what time?
How much money was spent on the operation?
How many people were in charge of the operation?
How many members of the police or military were killed during the operation and how?
How many members of the police or military had access to Westgate Mall after the attacks?