The Relationship Between Terror and the Media

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When Americans die in Iraq, they usually get a one-liner; (e.g. two Marines were killed by a roadside bomb today, three more Americans died in Iraq today.) When the terrorists brutally behead someone, the media tends to over expose the event, which can lead to a glamorizing effectin the minds of certain viewers, namely the terrorists themselves. The news stations like CNN hold lengthy debates about who might have committed the act and why they might have committed it. In the end, does such behavior really even deserve justification?

When Nick Berg was beheaded, there was much clamoring about whether or not that was caused by Abu Ghraib, what it meant for the future, etc. They speculate over whether the deaths can be attributed to Al Qaeda in Iraq or Ansar al Islam or some other group which they name. In other words, the media spends a lot of time and ink talking about it, acting as public relations outlets for the terrorists.

In a groundbreaking academic study, two researchers have found that media coverage does increase terrorism. Bruno S. Frey of the University of Zurich and Dominic Rohner of Cambridge University applied game theory principles to the study of terrorism and media coverage and found that the two have a symbiotic relationship. Terrorism attracts media coverage because it sells more newspapers, and more media coverage encourages terrorists to commit more acts of terrorism.

The media's need for exciting news coverage feeds terrorists' agendas to make their statements, political or otherwise, as dramatic as possible, encouraging terrorists to commit more of these violent acts. I am not saying the media and terrorists are accomplices, but they are a mutual convenience.

The media benefits from the public's eagerness to obtain information

about terrorist attacks. At least for sensationalist TV channels and tabloid-

newspapers, the fear and fascination generated by terrorism and political extremism is a substantial...
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