How media cover has impacted terrorism and terrorist activities


Terrorism and the media have had a strong association over the past decade. Some of the deadliest terrorist attack reports have been made by the media and have also been used to warn the public of future attacks. When it comes to media and terrorism, even global giant organizations such as the United States have been targeted. Terrorists, on the other hand, have made extensive use of the media to communicate their demands to governments globally. As a result, terrorists have used the media to obtain information about their objectives, spread propaganda, and attract new members. Their main goal in media use is to attract attention and prove notoriety. Terrorist-related articles generate a lot of revenue for the media, particularly print media, since most people like learning about violence. For example, when a terrorist attack occurs, print media experiences a surge in sales because people are often eager to know the fate of the terrorism. Terrorism must be conveyed well via the media for the people to be enthralled by the terrorist acts. The media and terrorists benefit from one another. This paper will discuss the various ways in which media cover has impacted terrorism and terrorist activities. The study will also illustrate sustainable methods and solutions that can be applied in media coverage to minimize terrorism.

Media Coverage concerning Terrorism

Terrorism’s ability to influence a larger audience depends on media coverage. Terrorist assaults are primarily motivated by the desire to communicate a message that cannot be conveyed without the aid of the media. The key concerns are a larger audience and how it reacts to the information conveyed. Governments, international public relations firms, and other similar organizations make up the bulk of the large audience. As a result of well-calculated plans, terrorists can get more media attention during their attacks. Therefore, the media is utilized to broadcast the cause of a terrorist attack and provide information on their goals and rationales for violence. Terrorists are treated as normal citizens by the media because they get the attention they want. They use the media to authenticate their actions, instil fear and distrust in public, and wage ideological warfare. Terrorists organize their assaults carefully and logically because they are often sure of getting extensive media coverage, which draws the government’s attention.

According to the al-Qaeda chief, the media plays a key role in winning over the hearts and minds of the general public (Whisenhunt, 2003).

Terrorists have been able to put together their objectives with ease with the aid of the media. The media is now shifting from television and radio to social media and other online platforms. Social media is a key target for terrorists because of its rapid distribution of information (Awan, 2017). A large part of the terrorists’ communication strategy includes using social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. Because of the rapid circulation of information on social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, the information may be shared quickly and easily. Terrorists have also communicated their messages and photographs to the whole world thanks to social media. In addition, the vast majority of recruits are recruited via social media like Skype, where leaders communicate with them directly (Weimann, 2016). Since only their subordinates carry out the attacks, the leaders take a long time to be apprehended. Al- Qaeda, for example, makes use of Skype to lead its younger terrorists toward their main objective, which is a location where they anticipate receiving the most attention from the public.

Other forms of media, including movies and games, have also been used by terrorists to convey information (Stahl, 2006). When they capture their targets, they may execute them live on camera so that the intended audience, such as the government, can get to watch them. They often use the most recent technologies and are always looking for new ways to choose their next victim. They rely on the free media to earn credibility, support and convey their information. As a result, terrorists may be able to use their innovations to achieve their goals. Terrorism should not undermine the significance of media freedom and transparency as a foundation of a free society. With this freedom comes the right for the general public to be kept up to date on issues of public concern, such as possible terrorist attacks and the responses of the government and international organizations towards them. States should not use the battle against terrorism as a reason to limit media freedom. Press freedom advocates argue that journalists should also not give terrorists priority by publishing too many violent images and sensationalized stories about their activities.

Reasons Why Media Covers Terrorism Stories

The coverage of terrorism boosts media attention, which leads to a rise in media revenue, which is similar to any other kind of investment. Terrorism is a controversial topic of debate since it combines drama, heroic moments, and plenty of action into a single subject. The media has to report more terrorist incidents because of the prevalence of violence in our society.

Shocking news draws in viewers, which boosts the revenue of a media company. Therefore, the popularity of the media rises. Most journalists work for corporations, and as a result, they know the kind of news that attract more readers and generate more revenue. However, the media’s coverage of terrorist incidents presents a dilemma. It employs theories about who is to blame for the assaults, anecdotal evidence, and the invention of new attack patterns. In addition, it uses the same visuals repeatedly to ensure that the message reaches its intended audience. As a result, some of the images are quite distressing, posing a danger to people. Information can be sold more effectively if people are frightened, and the media makes good use of this fact. They convey the significant effects of terror in everyday life.

The media uses framing and agenda making as a technique for reporting on terrorism. They come up with eye-catching headlines that make the terrorist stories more significant than the usual ones. The station may stop the show they’re airing to report a terrorist incident while someone is watching a regular show on television. They also display timely messages on TV screens with updates on terrorist activities. The media excels in framing in which they emphasize a specific piece of information that is viewed with extreme urgency by the public at large (Scheufele et al., 2005). There is a change in coverage when a terrorist incident happens, which gives terrorists the attention they are looking for. Terrorist tales are covered for less than half the normal time when they are scheduled for the news. The media also includes relevant government representatives to get their opinions on the incidences. Because they want to learn about the government’s efforts to thwart them, terrorists are particularly interested in some interviews because they can use the information. When it comes to framing a terrorist attack, the media has displayed prejudice against Muslims, which has led to several questions (Yusof et al., 2013).

Because terrorist stories generate more revenue for the media, they are required to make a big deal out of them.

The media, either directly or indirectly, is a terrorist puppet because it reduces the story’s complexity. In contrast, there are no ties to the deeds of war. The terrorists garner exposure for as long as they need it by re-telling some of the most traumatic accounts they’ve ever heard. Terrorist assaults are primarily aimed at framing and defining the plan in the media.

The 9/11 as an Example of the Relationship between Media and Terrorism

The 9/11 assault on the United States was one of the most devastating terror strikes on the United States’ land (Mueller, 2006). As a result of the attack’s widespread media coverage, its message spread rapidly and remained in the public domain for a long time. The incidents were documented and made available to the media. As a result of the terrorists’ choice of the towers, they were able to earn worldwide notoriety while also killing thousands of innocent people. They opted to target the global trade centre complex to paralyze the global economy. However, the media’s reaction was not what the terrorists had hoped for; rather, the media was against them and advocated for harsher measures against Muslims. As they were all linked to terrorist acts, the media unfairly targeted innocent Muslims (Klausen, 2009). Due to media coverage, everyone’s perceptions about Muslims and various events have altered. Since that time, terrorism has been accompanied by fear to ensure the safety of people. To ensure the general public’s safety, the police relied on the media to educate the public about the need for citizen cooperation during search operations.

Surveillance systems used in businesses have led to increased workplace security measures. Additionally, biometric searches have been installed to guarantee that persons are inspected for weapons while travelling through certain areas. With the media coverage of the 9/11 events, it is clear that the perpetrators achieved their objectives (Mueller, 2006). Even the most powerful country in the world was vulnerable to terrorist attacks. The terrorists had to carefully choose their target to garner the greatest exposure possible before the strikes. Therefore, a lot of attention was paid to them. The information spread quickly, and thus, they were able to affect the vast majority of people on the planet. The terrorists were able to attract additional members because of the attack and the media coverage. Many major cities throughout the globe have been terrorized after the 9/11 attacks, including Paris and Nairobi (Savitch, 2003).

The media is widely regarded to have had a significant part in the surge in violent terrorist attacks. Seeing that no one was secure after the attacks on the World Trade Centers in New York encouraged more terrorist attacks. It has become common to report recent assaults as a prediction for more to come because the attacks are recurrent. However, terrorist attacks can be minimized by changing the media’s connection with terrorism. Terrorists are less likely to carry out attacks if the media does not focus on them; thus, finding new methods to report the events is important. Keeping people from living in fear is necessary because of the dramatic terror incidents and stories that induce anxiety in the general population. The media must portray domestic and international terror threats fairly and objectively. For people to judge their safety, accurate information is essential. The media must halt the detrimental impact it has on the public.

Terrorists use media attention to spread false information and muddle the public’s perceptions. Therefore, the media must provide clear signals to their audiences. Often, the media uses harsh language to make the incident more frightening and instil dread in such a manner that it serves as a terrorist’s puppet. Using language that is easily comprehended by the whole audience is one way to promote clarity.


As a kind of psychological warfare, terrorism’s goal is to create a state of dread and panic among its targets. At this point, terrorism is heavily reliant on the media, and terrorists organize their assaults with this in mind. Media coverage of terrorism is profitable because of the drama and sensationalism it generates. Terrorists get popularity via media coverage, which may have harmful effects on children, victims, witnesses, first responders and the broader community. In a free and democratic society, media coverage is crucial, and coverage of terrorism should not be restricted or diminished. However, in the end, media coverage must be treated with caution and context.

Children, victims, and members of the general public are all affected by frequent media coverage of terrorism. Therefore, the government should get involved in the media to minimize the quantity of aired terror-related content. In addition, the states may guide how the general people might avoid being a target of general and political terrorist attacks. Additionally, the states should enact more stringent media laws to ensure that some of the most distressing pictures do not surface in the media to prevent terrorists from being inspired, aided in their recruiting, and instilling fear in public; some materials must be filtered out.