Terrorism and the media a symbiotic relationship in which both species

On the other hand, national countries by all means also have to include both na- . claim that terrorism and the media are in a symbiotic relationship, offering his .. tion in the fact that terrorism, as opposed to other types of crime, mainly. Counter-Terrorism strategies have also been adopted at both the that there is a symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the media. The Symbiotic Relationship between Western Media and Terrorism Both statements received almost no coverage or reaction from the West.

Thus, the words and images that make up the frame can be distinguished from the rest of the news by their capacity to stimulate support of or opposition to the sides in a political conflict Entman Very little of the detail, the human density, the passion of Arab-Muslim life has entered the awareness of even those people whose profession it is to report the Islamic world Nacos and Torres-Reina The media indeed profits from the drama terrorism creates, and covers the terrorism-related news in a sensational way.

Through employing the above-mentioned mediums, however, the media may directly or indirectly serve the interests of terrorists by simplifying stories for the viewer to the point that it has little to do with the actual events.

Repeating the traumatizing scenes and stories may also serve them, as the goal of the terrorists is to be in the media as often and long as possible. The better terrorists understand this mechanism behind the media, the more coverage they may receive and take further steps for massive publicity and the opportunity to showcase their ability to strike. Obviously, terrorists were aware of the fact that attacking the symbolic targets in the US, killing thousands of citizens, and causing a tremendous amount of damage to the American and international economy, as well as the image of the US would be sensational news around the globe.

The response of the media in the US was often far from being objective, calm, and prudent. Instead, media organs oozed hatred and hysteria, calling for action against mainly Arabs and Muslims and crying for revenge, as terrorists would have planned.

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The major corporate media tended to support the patriotic discourse and the policies of the then president George W. Terrorists were obviously aware of the magnitude of sensation their attacks would create; however, the way media covered news and stories rendered it possible for the terrorists to conceive an unimaginable victory in terms of penetrating into the daily lives of a huge audience.

They attracted global attention, obtained global recognition, received a degree of respect among sympathizers, and gained legitimacy in the eyes of supporters and potential recruits, through the fear narrative the media employed. Recommendations The media plays a central role in the calculus of political violence and are put into positions where they can magnify or minimize these kinds of acts and their perpetrators, or, of course, they can provide coverage that avoids either one of those extremes Nacos a.

Under this light, the recommendations below can be implemented to minimize the media-related effects of terrorism: However, the way the events are framed and the extent to which it is covered is also important. Accordingly, in order to alter the symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the media, it is of high importance for the media to reevaluate and change its rhetoric when covering the terrorism-related news and stories.

Achieving this may not only prevent terrorists from using media coverage as an important publicity and recruitment tool, but may also prevent the emergence of an atmosphere of fear at the public level. It may also force government and security elite to make more rational decisions regarding countering terrorism and dealing with public outrage.

Hence, news coverage with less repetition of horrific scenes, less traumatization, less sensation and more information and prudence are essential in the first place to break the symbiosis. Objectivity — The media should have a conscious sense of its responsibilities to the public, as one of the goals of terrorists it to shake public confidence in their own security.

Thus, objectivity and bipartisanship should be key when reporting a story. The media coverage of success stories should be balanced with the coverage of failure stories without speculation and dramatization in order to add to the credibility of the source and public order in the aftermath of an attack. Clarity — Since a critical part of counterterrorism is information warfare, it is among the goals of terrorists to misinform the public and exploit the uncertainty and suspicion emerged afterwards.

Given these, the media should provide the clearest, most factual, and most balanced information to the extent it is possible to prevent the misinterpretation of terrorism-related incidents by the public and government officials who can possibly make suboptimal decisions regarding the countering moves.

The media should especially avoid presenting extreme and blindly partisan viewpoints to raise ratings and use a plain language that everybody can understand in order not to invite panic.

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Selective use of soft power — Even though some advocate the use of media tools for propaganda against terrorists, specifically in the narrative warfare in radical extremism, this is generally fruitless, given that the media has certain limits and legal and moral obligations, while terrorists do not.

It is also counterproductive, as media propoganda amplifies the perceived power of a terrorist organization. Instead, media can be employed as a public affairs and public diplomacy tool instead of a propaganda tool to influence foreign publics and potential recruits.

Such dichotomy can give way to social unrest in multicultural societies that fail to integrate certain groups and trigger further attacks, as the anger and hopelessness become pushing forces for potential recruiters, sympathizers, and even moderates to uprise.

Counter cyber-terrorism — The Internet has become a central forum in a global scale for debate among numerous communities that are being directly affected by the global political violence.

The communication of violent and oppressive groups has also heavily relied on the Internet. In other words, the age of the Internet has brought an age of online terrorism and enabled terrorists to use the web to recruit, raise money, and spread their messages. Even though the regulation of the media, specifically the Internet, presents a fundamental dilemma due to the inherent tension between censorship and the democratic tradition of free speech, privacy, and press freedom, it is crucial to take countering measures against the cyber activities of terrorists.

These measures can include tracking their activities on online forums, following their conservations and activities on social media, and prevent the spread of radicalizing materials from specific websites. In addition to that, enacting laws at national level to punish the ones using the Internet to provoke the public, recruit and train, and propagandize can identify terrorists and prevent a potential attack.

To this end, a government-media partnership that is better informing the public, refuting the arguments of terrorists, and depriving them of the publicity they need can be formed.

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Concluding Remarks Terrorism is a category of political violence, which is intended to influence foreign and domestic governments, as well as communities. Terrorism uses its immediate victims and material targets for semiotic and symbolic purposes Lewis Attacks are designed to create an atmosphere of fear or a sense of threat.

In the same vein, terrorism can also refer to politically motivated deeds perpetrated by groups or individuals for the sake of communicating messages to a larger audience Nacos a. This symbiosis is not inevitable. Implementing certain policies that are different than the previous failed policies can facilitate the breaking of that cycle by forcing at least one side of the equation—the media—to act in a more responsible, more conscious, and more cooperative manner.

Only then starving the terrorists of the oxygen of publicity on which they depend can become possible and more robust steps can be taken to win the ideological and actual battle against terrorism. Bibliography Altheide, David L. A Change of Course? Hawala and Satellite Telecommunications. Counter-Terrorism strategies have also been adopted at both the multilateral EU and the international UN level. These provisions have been accompanied by legal mechanisms designed to prohibit incitement to terrorism, criminalising the financing of terrorism and prosecuting Foreign Terrorist Fighters.

This brief therefore attempts to resurrect an old established argument in terrorism scholarship- namely that there is a symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the media. The following highlights three aspects of the terrorism-media symbiosis. 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.

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.

Terrorism and the Media: A Dangerous Symbiosis

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.

Terrorism and the Mass Media: A symbiotic relationship?

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.