The relationship between terrorism and the media
The media plays several critical functions within society. It informs, entertains, monitors holds those in power and institutions accountable for their actions, investigates and provides a platform for public forums. With regards to terrorism, it is crucial to note the fact that the media neither creates nor promotes terrorism. However, once an act of terror occurs, a symbiotic relationship between the media and terrorism develops (Gareeva et al. A symbiotic relationship in this regard refers to a mutually dependent relationship between the media and terrorism where the media is eager to provide newsworthy content while terrorist groups strategically benefit from the publicity. In addition, media coverage of acts of terror distorts the comprehension of terrorist threats. Finally, media coverage of acts of terror may inspire copy-cat acts of terror.
Primarily, the problem does not emanate from why the media chooses to cover terrorism, but rather the manner in media channels covers terrorism activities. The Media as a platform for publicity and terrorist propaganda Communication as a concept is an act of publicly transmitting information. The transmission has an impact on emotions, actions, ideas, and thoughts. An excellent example of the analogy is the September 11 attacks in the United States of America. The attack was a great demonstration of how terrorist groups can perfectly orchestrate an attack targeting the media and international audiences (Weimann, 2008, 69-86). The attacks brought the relationship between the media and terrorism to a new level, with regards to the method used, timing, scope and targets. Terrorists chose The Pentagon and the World Trade Centre as their targets because they represented America’s heritage, wealth and power.
Also, terrorist often create their own visual images such as video clips containing press releases, their actions, declarations and interviews, intended for the media. The Copy-cat effect refers to the tendency of publicly aired acts of violence and terror to inspire or result in more similar acts by means of imitation (Weimann, 2008, 69-86). For instance, an El Al Israel Airline headed towards Tel Aviv from Rome was hijacked by a terror group referred to as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine in 1968. The hijackers managed to divert the path of the plane to Algiers. The aircraft had ten crew members and 32 passengers on board. The spectacular act of terror left many people bewildered. However, there exists a significant distinction between an existential threat and security.
An existential state is an act that threatens the survival of a state. In most developing countries, there are real systematic effects of terrorism (Altheide, 2006, 982-997). These are events that pose a genuine threat to the existence of the state should they occur. Countries such as Afghanistan, Nigeria, Libya, Somalia, and Iraq are great examples. That is to mean; terrorism is regarded as a threat to every country; thus, it must be tackled. However, once the topic of terrorism becomes a politicized couple with media representation, terrorism becomes transformed from something that can be managed into an existential and ubiquitous global threat. Conclusion The symbiotic relationship between the media and terrorism is a phenomenon that has been neglected by policymakers and the ‘old media.
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