Mass media and terrorism have become more interdependent in a mutually beneficial relationship often described as 'symbiotic.' This article addresses. is a symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the media. Terrorists' response to terrorism, but that the mass media need to work harder at devising. Television terrorists can no more do without the media than the media can resist the terror-event, The two are in a symbiotic relationship, so that any restriction of.
His study found that in the two months following terrorist attacks in three major cities in November, there were articles about the attack in Baghdad; 1, articles about the one in Beirut; but over 21, about the widely-reported attack in Paris. Terrorist acts in Western Europe and North America are still a relatively unusual occurrence, so broadcasters and publications deploy the bulk of their resources to cover these tragedies.
Thinking about the Symbiotic Relationship between the Media and Terrorism
The media also know that its viewers and readers are more likely to relate and indentify with, to put it plainly, victims who look more like them. The Need for Self-Restraint, but not China-style Censorship Global news organizations must strike a difficult balance. They must be able to perform their professional duty of informing the public while also making sure that terrorists do not benefit from their work.
To do that, a degree of self-restraint and greater editorial discretion—a 'voluntary code of conduct'—would redress some of the flaws of the media's reaction to terrorism. Today, several governments around the world harshly restrain private media let alone public news networks from reporting on terrorism. Two notorious cases are Russia and China and their imposed limits on media coverage of terrorist acts. These restrictions are manifestly ill-advised and needless to say, have no place in free societies.
Media outlets in authoritarian countries may have some leeway to cover terrorism, but newsrooms often exercise self-censorship to avoid government retaliation in the form of penalties, license-stripping, legal persecution, harassment, or much worse. Self-censorship is a loaded term that should be used only when media outlets omit to report on terrorism because they are afraid of government reprisals.
That is not the case in most liberal and democratic regimes. The journalistic profession is rooted in the people's right to know. Free speech is one of the foundations of our democracies, so any kind of imposed regulation diluting our free media will weaken the public's confidence in the integrity of news networks.
Moreover, paying no attention to acts of terror could make terrorists even more violent, as they would see a need to stage yet gorier attacks to bring back the coverage of the global media. The kind of self-restraint advocated here is one that moves the journalistic profession away from broadcasting and publishing sensationalist elements of the plans and atrocities of extremists, and reflects on the enormous influence it has in society before covering the propaganda of fundamentalists for the sake of boosting audience ratings.
The Power of Contextualizing: As a result, only a fraction of the wider public is aware of the historical, geopolitical, and social grievances that fuel extremists' loathing towards the societies and governments that they target. The quality media as opposed to the more popular, intrinsically sensationalist news organizations like tabloid newspapers should step up its reporting standards and underline the root causes—not the twisted motives put forward by terrorists in their propaganda—that make fundamentalists kill civilians.
By highlighting certain characteristics and downplaying others, the media frames terrorism in a way that helps or distorts the public's understanding of terrorism.
Some expressions, concepts, and analogies play into the hands of terrorists. Rupert Murdoch, arguably the world's most powerful media mogul, used to mock Obama for his refusal to label Daesh's terrorism as 'Islamic. The mass media cannot fall into the trap of linking the murderous ideology of these groups with the faith that guides the lives of hundreds of millions of people.
Fairer alternatives would be terrorism in the name of Islam, or simply the use of the designation of the terrorist group as a prefix e. Secondly, surfeit media coverage of terrorism creates a distorted understanding of the terrorist threat. Thirdly, media coverage of terrorism inspires the phenomenon of copy-cat terrorism. The media performs several critical functions for society: An important caveat to note is that the media does not create terrorist organisations nor does it promote terrorism.
The principal distinction to bear in mind is: Terrorism is a theatre. Information, here, is meant in the broader sense: Terrorism is a communicative act in the sense that it seeks to send a message to multiple audiences: Without this platform, the message of terrorist movements would not reach beyond its very immediate locale and therefore would remain unknown to most people outside the confined boundaries of the attack.
Terrorism and the Mass Media: A symbiotic relationship?
Bruce Hoffman explains the underlying impact of this symbiosis for terrorist organisations: However, attention economics suggest that escalation may simply continue if the aim is to maximise the increasingly scarce resource of attention. It is this vying for audience attention that makes it more appropriate to perceive terrorists as being more like theatre producers than army generals.
Media-wise, terrorists are able to elicit attention by orchestrating attacks with the media as a major consideration. They select specific targets, locations and timing of their planned attacks deliberately and according to media preferences, trying to satisfy the media criteria for newsworthiness.
The attacks introduced a new level of mass-mediated terrorism because of the choices the planners made with respect to method, target, timing and scope. Terrorists also prepare visual aids for the media through means such as video clips of their actions, taped interviews and declarations, as well as press releases.
Their penchant for using images is vividly exemplified by the recording of beheading videos. Whereas these videos were previously filmed in dark rooms, produced to low-quality resolution, now such beheadings videos are filmed in the open and to a high standard of quality. The videos are slicker, utilising cinematic effects, e. Social media has been criticised for creating echo chambers for vulnerable people who watch emotionally provocative videos. In fact, media-savvy organisations like Daesh have taken the theatre of terrorism to new heights.
It is hard not to conclude that terrorism judged on its own terms- as a way of getting attention and arousing alarm- has been a success. This contradicts the evidence that proves that most terrorist movements fade away without attaining their strategic goals.
Media Frames a Distorted Threat Perception of Terrorism The symbiotic relationship between terrorism and media produces a particular perception of terrorism as an existential threat to the security of Western countries. The media plays a critical role in producing the illusion that terrorism is an existential threat to the security of Western countries.
There is a difference between security and existential threats. In many developing countries, the systematic effects of terrorism are real- e.
The existence of actors with the capacity for violence other than the state is always a threat to state legitimacy and, under certain conditions, can precipitate civil conflict. However, the current terrorism threat posed to Western countries represents a security threat, not an existential threat. It is because of the availability bias that perceptions of risk may be in error.
The Symbiotic Relationship between Western Media and Terrorism
Second, it describes the hyper connectivity between people, places, and ideas. It also depoliticises the threat, making it seem random or evil. Consequently, terrorism becomes code word for mystery and uncontrollable threat. The surfeit media coverage of terrorism in Western countries can be contrasted with the dearth treatment of terrorism in other parts of the world where the bulk of terrorism actually happens.