Mass Media and Terrorism

SUMMARY

The new paradigm of terrorism is partly a consequence of a sudden development of information technology, which is particularly manifested in the fact that terrorist organizations have recognized the importance mass media has  on the accomplishment of their aims. Between media and terrorism there exists a very interactive (symbiotic) relationship, because media industry trends and patterns for media contents production head towards preference of sensation– seeking contents, whereas terrorist organizations can, due to their actions, ensure themselves maximum presence in the media. In doing so, terrorist organizations are constantly trying to manipulate and exploit free media for their own purpose. We might say that it is the mass media itself that provide global reach to terrorism,  influences the way the public perceives terrorism and dangers that arise from it. It influences political decisions used to respond to terrorism, but also the relations formed through national and international politics.

However, media does not have to become an instrument of terrorism. Through a thoughtful approach media can, in Western liberal countries, turn into a kind of weapon which can then be used as an important device in defeating terrorists, and the positive benefits certainly exceed unfavorable consequences caused by possible irresponsible actions by a part of journalists or media companies.

Introduction

The information revolution which reached its peak in the second half of the 20th century exerts influence on all spheres of global society and prompts their transformation. One of the consequences of society thus transformed is its open- ness as well as ever faster and greater availability of information. Still there is another phenomenon that coexists with the above mentioned one – a phenomenon transforming today’s society – terrorism. In all its contemporary attributes terrorism has a double potential: firstly, it represents a global threat; secondly, it influences the transformation of contemporary societies. Only after the information revolution has spurred the development of society in the direction of openness and new communication possibilities could this form of new or mega terrorism have come into existence.

The purpose of this study is to determine how could a contemporary society respond on terrorism and to determine how it could, in doing so, benefit from the effects resulting from IT revolution. Namely, societies react on terrorism in different ways, and it is of great importance to investigate how democratic societies respond to terrorism, especially if we know that all of them point out that the greatest peril to the societies is terrorism itself. In doing so, special attention should be given to the role of the media, as the major channel for transmission and dissemination of information, that have come to represent one of the essential levers of both terrorist and antiterrorist organisations in contemporary society.

Thus, we think that the existing scientific and expert contribution in research on terrorism should be additionally reimbursed, and special attention should be paid to studying correlation between mass media and the new paradigm of terrorism. In doing so, it is greatly important to achieve a balance between country interest in the segment of national safety and citizen rights for freedom of speech and data access.

Mass media and terrorism:

The majority of experts justly call the contemporary terrorism mass media oriented terrorism. Namely, by analyzing terrorist activities one may notice that in the majority of cases they are carried out precisely in order to draw the attention of the international media. It could be said that terrorist acts aim at causing heavy casualties, but also at raising fear with the public which, thanks to the media, participates” collaterally in every terrorist attack. 

Modern media technology and communications satellites have had a marked effect in increasing the publicity potential of terrorism, giving them – the oxygen of publicity. It is the aim of terrorists to appear in the most popular programmes in order to gain mass publicity, but also legitimacy such media attention creates in the eyes of their followers and fans.

Modern media technology and communications satellites have had a marked effect in increasing the publicity potential of terrorism, giving them – the oxygen of publicity. It is the aim of terrorists to appear in the most popular programmes in order to gain mass publicity, but also legitimacy such media attention creates in the eyes of their followers and fans. That is the reason why – Minimanual of the Urban Guerrilla – is of such importance. It was published in 1969 and is written by Carlos Marighella, a Brazilian terrorist and one of the most influential “theorists” of modern terror, and has become the handbook for numerous terrorist movements all over the world. It discusses different ways of taking advantage of the mass media for terrorist purposes. He states that: “to inform about the revolutionists’ actions is enough for the modern mass media to become an important tool of propaganda

and that the psychological war is a technique of fight, based on direct or indirect usage of the mass media”(Cepulskaite, 2000). Terrorism, therefore, for Hoffman (2003:118), may be seen as a violent act that is conceived specifically to attract attention and then, through the publicity it generates,to communicate a message. As a one of leaders of the United Red Army once realistically explained: “violent actions… are shocking. We want to shock people, everywhere… It is our way of communicating with the people (Hoffman, 2003:118). Mass media, as the principal conduit of information about such acts, thus play a vital part in the terrorists’ calculus.

On the other hand, informing about terrorism, especially kidnappings and hostage crisis, is for mass media a source of news that, due to the fact that these news are dramatic, updated and raise great public attention, could significantly raise reader and viewer ratings, and thus media companies’ profit as well. Mass media will always do so in case of terrorist attacks because of a great public attention for such an event. Wilkinson (2002) points out that every percentage of rating increase raises the annual profit by tens of millions of pounds. At the same time, in his opinion, chief editors are not even aware of the political implications caused by their relentless struggle to increase ratings, i.e. profit.

Determining influences mass media have on terrorism is a very complex issue. Ieva Cepulkauskaite considered two hypothesis, one of which advocates “the powerful mass media paradigm” which is trying to prove great effects of the mass media, and the other “the weak mass media paradigm”, stating that the mass media effects are minimal. She came to the conclusion that the influence of mass media grows in cases when they are the only source of information and when there are no other opinions on certain event.

Conclusion

The information revolution which reached its peak in the second half of the 20th century exerts influence on all spheres of global society and prompts their transformation. Information technology has radically changed people’s lifestyles, in communication, business activities and leisure time and in various other aspects of everyday life. One of the consequences of society thus transformed is its openness as well as ever faster and greater availability of information. One may conclude that today’s social movements are to a considerable extent under the influence of information that is taking on new meanings. One of the direct consequences of these processes are new possibilities mass media offer in fast information communication and their global spreading.

Without the assistance of media, terrorist rhetoric would influence only those in the immediate vicinity of terrorist violence. Conversely, with the assistance of media, terrorism reaches a much broader, sometimes global audience. Most people get their political information from media, so in that way mass-mediated depictions  of terrorism can have a profound effect upon the way people think about and engage  in discourse about terrorism. It is undisputable that terrorism and media are interrelated  in a specific way.

However, the real question is not their relationship but the fact if it has influence on public opinion and governmental decision making that would be in favor of terrorists. Numerous governmental officials, scientists and media critics are of opinion that media are “terrorists’ best friends” or, as Margaret Thatcher named them “the oxygen of publicity they live from”. Media are accused of “making the job easy to the terrorists“ or that they have “involuntarily or in certain cases voluntarily become an amplifier of a terrorist campaign for gaining publicity” (Hoffman, 2003:128).    

Media today not only shape public opinion but they also conduct politics, and journalists, besides reporting, deal with defining a great number of various operations which are on disposal to the government, and with predicting possible public reactions on certain government moves. Hoffman for that reason thinks that analytical journalism in connection with electronics has essentially altered the context and contents of the news, and that it sometimes has a wrong influence both on public opinion and on political decisions making. It is this manner, in this era of mass communication media, that the terrorists get a chance for such a manipulation and influence they have never so far had, because “what was not released in the media, did not happen at all. (Hoffman, 2003:133).

 

 ???? ?? ????? ?? ?? ????? ??? ??? ???

?? ?????? ??? ?? ??? ??? ??? ??? ?????? ???? ??? ???

                                                                 —

 

Be Part of Quality Journalism

Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.

ACT NOW
MONTHLYRs 100
YEARLYRs 1000
LIFETIMERs 10000

CLICK FOR DETAILS


Observer News Service

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

KO SUPPLEMENTS