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Terrorism & the Media

Terrorism and the Media


Without the media, terrorists would have a very limited, largely local impact. The news of terrorist activity (and the terror impact) would be spread by rumor and limited in scope to the rumor mill (except, of course, today there is the Internet). The media are (usually) unwilling accomplices of the terrorist. The media spread the terrorists’ message and help provide the terror impact of the terrorists’ activities. The role played by the media in accomplishing the terrorists’ agenda is, therefore, a very important issue to examine.

Click Terrorism and the Media to view the PowerPoint presentation (0.30 MB).

Focus Questions

  1. What effect does media coverage have on terrorist activity?
  2. How important is the language used to described the event? (e.g., acquire vs. annex vs. reclaim, beheading or cutting off the head, antiabortion or antiChoice vs. proLife)
  3. What determines which terrorist activities will get the most publicity (e.g., air time, page coverage) form the media?
  4. Should the military (and government agencies) be permitted to censor information coming from conflict zones (both military and counter-terrorist activities)? What happened during World War II? What about the Vietnam conflict?
  5. Should the government actively disrupt media sources (e.g., electronically jam broadcast media, bomb newspapers) that tacitly support the terrorist’s cause?
  6. What are the sources of information?
  7. What are the biasing factors in media coverage?
  8. Does the government lie? Is its coverage of terrorist activity trustworthy?
  9. What are the best (i.e., most timely, honest, and comprehensive) sources of information about terrorism and terrorist activities? Why are these sources the ‘best’?