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Terrorism And The Media Essay

1796 words - 8 pages

Imagine we are a resident of Jerusalem in the year 60 AD, and we are taking a walk throughout the marketplace doing our weekly shopping. We see a man pull out a dagger and he yells, "Death to all Romans!" and attacks a Roman guard, killing him in front of hundreds of spectators. The assassin quietly slips into the crowd and is lost in a sea of people never to be found. The word of the attack spreads and soon it is the talk of the town. Many more attacks on Romans are made by the Safari and the Zealots. Sympathizers of the Romans slowly disappear and their voices vanish from Jerusalem. The fear of terrorism grows and Roman repression grows along with it. This in turn leads to the people of ...view middle of the document...

It is a combination of indoctrination and drama. The relationship between terrorism and the media is symbiotic. As terrorists require widespread attention, the media needs news (Miller 6). Terrorism in effect is a form of advertisement of the terrorist's goals and what they want accomplished. In 1980 the New York Times, printed a total of 916 articles on terrorist events. This means that terrorists were getting their message out nearly three times a day to the American public (Miller 60). Terrorists have usually used the media for four main reasons. The first reason is to have their message heard and to strike fear into their target group. The second is to win over the public's support for their cause, by highlighting themes like, the righteousness of their cause, and the assuredness of their victory. Third they use media to disrupt government and security responses. By suggesting that they are overreacting and their efforts are counterproductive. Finally, the fourth is to raise the moral of their current members, raise recruitment, and encourage more attacks (Alexander 30-31). John O' Sullivan gave this quote about media and terrorism, "If the media were not there to explain their political and social significance, terrorism would cease to exist." (Nacos 48).With all the interaction between the media and terrorism an option being considered by many governments is censorship of media's coverage of terrorist events. During many terrorist incidents the police do not want all the information they have gathered to be released, for fear of the public's safety, and the security of their future actions. One motive of terrorists is to sway the public's belief in police forces dealing with the terrorist incident. For that reason the printing of damaging articles and stories requires some restraint (Alexander 36). An example of the media needing restraint occurred on April 30, 1980, when a group of Arab secessionists captured the Iranian embassy in London. As the SWAT teams began to move in their biggest advantage was the element of surprise. But, that was almost destroyed by a camera man from British ITV (Independent Television) who got past the police barricade and broadcasted a live assault on the embassy. One can only speculate what would have happened if the terrorists had been watching the television (Miller 28). Complete and total censorship is not the answer. According to Schmid Violence as Communication when he said: In many countries it is likely that the level of terrorism will increase rather than decrease after the introduction of terrorism. The increase is due to the fact that... groups will feel freer to engage in terrorist acts...since they can count on not being exposed and criticized by the local media. The mass terrorism of Hitler and Stalin was possible because the people were not fully aware of what was going on. Government imposed censorship on news of... terrorism can, in our view, be a cure that is worse than the disease (150).A...

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