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Unformatted text preview: Terrorism and the Media "Human communication is the vehicle for political and social thought, debate, and action (Dettmer, 2004, 133) Understanding through Communication Choice of words in communication can have or take on (unintended) symbolic meaning Symbol an object, word, sound, picture, or particular mark that represents something else by association, resemblance, or convention "Jihad" "Crusade" "Capitalism" "War on Terror" Symbolism & Communication Understanding through Communication Narratives- explanations of events in the form of short, common sense accounts Summaries General themes Images Inferences & judgments about motives Terrorism and the Triangle of Communication To be successful, terrorists need to gain access to: Terrorism as a form of Communication Schmidt & deGraaf argue that terrorism is a form of communication Violence as language Communicator: terrorists Receiver: enemy and/or masses Purpose: to communicate displeasure and advocate for change Media as a tool Publicity is the oxygen of terrorism"-Margaret Thatcher "The essential ingredient of any effective antiterrorist policy must be the denial to the terrorist of access to mass media outlets. . .by voluntary means. . .or by government control" (Broder, 1985) "News is the lifeblood of liberty. If the terrorists succeed in depriving us of freedom, their victory will be far greater than they ever hoped and far worse than we ever feared" (Graham, 1986, 81) Media as a tool Three media goals of terrorism: 1. They want attention 2. Recognition of goal 3. They want to win respect and even gain legitimacy in some circles, countries, or regions Media as a Tool While publicity is a goal of terrorism, it is only a tool to reach the political goal(s) Manage strikes to maximize impact News cycles New technologies Cell phones, cable, internet, videos, blogs Preference given to televised media An alternative view. . . Publicity with no "face" Motive to inflict pain and fear rather than to highlight specific cause Handling the Handler Free pre$$ Watch dog journalism "Loyal opposition" The business aspect of the media Media bias or neutrality ? What is and is not covered Lap dog journalism Handling the Handler
Does media coverage aid terrorists? Consider the following: Prior to 9/11, US media covered comparatively fewer terror incidents than their international counterparts Episodic terrorism Thematic terrorism Mass-mediated terror Bedfellows in a Marriage of Convenience? "The American media and terrorists are not accomplices. However, they are involved in a symbiotic relationship in that they feed off each other: The media want dramatic, shocking, disconcerting news that keeps readers, listeners, and viewers captivated and that bolsters the circulation of the print press and the ratings of the electronic media. Terrorists need to spread their propaganda to further their ultimate political objectives. To put it differently, the news media and terrorists are not involved in a love story; they are strange bedfellows in a marriage of convenience" (Nacos, 2010, 263) Public Service or Treason ? Information leaks & reporting of "sensitive" information December 2006: New York Times reported that the PATH tunnels that run under the Hudson were vulnerable to (bomb) attack Defending the Media In the information age, information is much more difficult to control/censor Media does show restraint There are intraorganizational guidelines that are followed Media provides crucial information to public in times of crisis What do you think? Responsible reporting to bring attention to & correct weakness Irresponsible reporting notifying terrorists of a weakness to exploit ...
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- Spring '11