Media Reports on Terrorism Attacks
The Solution of Media Reports on Terrorism Attacks
Today there has been a constant rise in the acts of terrorism worldwide. There are claims that media coverage, especially newspaper and video, directly results in more attacks. It comes from the analysis that both terrorists and media systems benefit from terrorist attacks. While the media makes money from the sale of newspapers highlighting terrorist attacks, the terrorists, on the other hand, get publicity for their cause. Most media overages thrive on conflict. It is evident that disputes attract listeners, readers and viewers, hence the bigger the conflict, the bigger the number of audience. While most media houses and personalities report the terrorism, they also play it up and create an exaggeration thus making it look more intense than the real situation is. The terrorist attacks are timed; they occur on significant dates while targeting sites that have quick media access and potential mass causalities (Spencer 16).
The relationship between the media and the public is unique and complex at the same time. Its foremost purpose is to provide publicity to the terrorists with the aim of informing the public and creating fear in the public. It makes it complicated since everyone assumes the media is in support of all terrorist activities. For starters, media coverage on terrorism results to the creation of an atmosphere that is full of fear. The reaction towards this situation by leaders and citizens is the support of the use of force towards the countering of terrorism. There is the problem of endangering one’s life as many media personalities’ such as journalists are kidnapped and murdered just to gain publicity. For most individuals, the repeated viewing of terrorism images results in psychological effects such as PSTD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorders) and depression (Cohen-Almagor 43). It is possible for the media coverage to develop ways that minimize the negative effects they bring about in their countries or states.
One of the solutions here is objectivity. The media is required to have a conscious sense of the responsibilities towards the public. It is therefore their responsibility to present clear information from both sides in a fair and accurate manner that avoids bias. In such way, the viewers can make their conclusions and draw opinions without the negative influence of the media. The main issues the media should avoid are exaggerations, dramatization and speculations in order to provide credibility. The other important solution to the media reports are clarity. Most terrorist groups and states work towards misinforming the public and exploiting the suspicions and uncertainties that come after the attacks. The media should, therefore, provide clear, factual and balanced information to avoid misinterpretations of the terrorism incidences by the government officials and the public. The linguistic used should be guileless and forthright to allow extreme viewpoints (Martin 19).
De-securitization requires the media to change and reevaluate its focus when covering terrorism stories and other conflict related reports. The media should adopt the any other story approach while avoiding the sensational level of such stories. In such case, the terrorists will stop using the media as a recruitment and publicity tool in order to create an atmosphere full of fear (Bassiouni 56). Such extreme situations result in irrational decision-making by the political leaders and other security related organizations while aiming at successful countering of terrorism. The main approach here would be the elimination of horrific scenes, which are played repetitively resulting in too much traumatization, and less sensations. On another level, the government could provide assistance to media coverage. This can be made through the reminder of political backgrounds and contexts of terrorisms related stories to support the role of the terrorists. This form of alliance or partnership turns out to be a well way of notifying the public about terrorism, depriving publicity of them and refuting terrorist arguments. The other solution would be the handling of cyber-terrorism, which promotes the activities of the groups involved in this life threatening activities. There is the recruitment of new followers, payment of weapons and identification of target areas through the internet (Williams 36).
Differentiation is the other critical point when it comes to the solutions of media coverage and the consequent negative effects they bring about. It is essential for the media to provide clear differences between the terrorism groups and states like the Al-Shabaab. It will avoid provocation and mobilization of the public against specific Islamic groups and religious minorities such as the Muslims (Akin 34). The news coverage by the media should avoid stereotyping of groups thus resulting in us vs. them scenarios. Such situationslead to social unrest in societies that have the multicultural characteristic, which fail in the integration of the affected groups or states. The anger and resentment generated from the lack of differentiation turns out to be a pushing force for sympathizers and potential recruiters of terrorism groups (Perešin 39).
It is clear that the mass media plays an imperative role when it comes to the aftermath of disasters. For the affected communities, they are a source of hope. As a form of political violence, terrorism has significant influence on the domestic and foreign governments together with the alliances and relationships being established (Walsh 29). Most attacks aim at creating an environment that is filled with fear or threats. The other motive of most terrorist attacks is communication of messages to particular audiences. In this case, the symbiotic relationship between the media and the terrorist groups develop since they all seem to be dependent on each other. While the terrorism gets the publicity they yearn for, the media is able to generate large profits due to the large audiences attracted to their coverage. Since most states find it impossible to reason with the terrorist, the media turn out to be the only party that can be responsible. The media must act responsibly to strike a balance when it comes to terrorism activities (Joyner & Richard 11).
What the public and the authorities need is the media that stop glorifying terrorism. When they agree to this, the media helps in the magnification of the activities and the negative effects to the public. Without the media, it is possible that people would fail to know about terrorist activities worldwide. Terrorism has always remained as a public and high profile political issue in most states like Kenya and the United States (Bilgen 45). In most countries, media coverage is far from being calm, prudent and objective. Instead, they support the public in calling for action against suspected groups and states such as Muslims and Arabs demanding for revenge and other forms of action by the country. This not only stirs hatred, but also results in a growing resilience by the public, since people adapt to such horrific events as expected.
Most media houses should do away the idea of profits and publicity and invest in protecting the public by providing clear information. With the support of the media through publicity attainment, most terrorism groups end up achieving half of their objectives. The only disadvantage that comes with ignoring the terrorists is the escalation of their activities with more adverse effects. The media should therefore adapt the solutions mentioned to attain the objectives of informing and avoid giving publicity to the terrorist groups.
- Akin, Jennifer. "Mass Media." Beyond Intractability. 8 Mar. 2005. Web. 4 Dec, 2014.
- Bassiouni, Cherif. "Terrorism, Law Enforcement, and The Mass Media: Perspectives, Problems, Proposals." Terrorism And The Media 72.1 (2001): 1-52. Print.
- Bilgen, Arda. "Terrorism and the Media: A Dangerous Symbiosis." International Relations. 1 Apr. 2011. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.
- Cohen-Almagor, Raphael. "Media Coverage of Acts of Terrorism: Troubling Episodes and Suggested Guidelines" Canadian Journal of Communication. 1 Aug. 2005. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.
- Joyner, James, and Richard Morin. "Media Coverage Fuels Terrorism." Outside the Beltway. 15 June 2006. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.
- Martin, John. "The Media's Role in International Terrorism." Pegasus. 15 Aug. 2009. Web. 4 Dec. 2014.
- Perešin, Anita. "Relationship between Mass Media and Terrorism." Mass Media and Terrorism 1.1 (2007): 1-18. Print.
- Spencer, Alexander. "Terrorism and the Media." Lessons Learnt 1.4 (2012): 1-31. Print.
- Walsh, James Igoe Walsh. "Media Attention to Terrorist Attacks: Causes and Consequences." Research Brief: Institute of Homeland Security Solutions 1.1 (2010): 1-15. Print.
- Williams, John. "Terrorism and the Media." Transnational Terrorism, Security & the Rule of Law 1.1 (2003): 1-95. Print.