Media and Terrorism Contemporary Term Paper

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[. . .] Nacos's analysis brings up some important issues of media self-censorship, and government control of media coverage of terrorist incidents. Certainly, it is tempting to argue that media coverage of terrorist activities should be curbed in order to reduce the terrorist's manipulation of the media. However, this brings up important freedom of speech issues, which are far beyond the scope of this paper to consider.

Scott Stossel's arguments in "Terror TV" mirror Naco's assessment that the dramatic nature of terrorist activities results in widespread media coverage. For example, Stossel argues that terrorists calculated on the striking visual impact of airplanes slamming into the World Trade Center as a way to ensure that their actions would be well-publicized. Certainly, the terrorists were correct in that assessment. The pictures were aired tirelessly on television, and the media pre-empted regular programming in order to show the pictures.

Like Nacos, Stossel argues that the media do serve some public service capacity in their coverage of terrorist acts. He notes that the media is absolutely crucial in its capacity to inform of potential dangers to the public.

Distressingly, Stossel notes that as long as television is present, terrorists will continue to use the medium for their advantage. He notes that there are ways that television can attempt to attenuate this effect, and yet maintain free speech in a free society.

Responsible and careful reporting is important in minimizing the media's contribution to the terrorist's agenda. Encouragingly he notes that American television performed "well in the wake of September 11" (Stossel, 110). However, he criticizes Fox News in particular for inaccurately reporting that five firefighters had been rescued after two days of being trapped under the rubble of the Trade Center.

Importantly, Stossel argues that television's 24-hour a day presence ultimately results in mistakes and errors. He sees television as a "rough draft of journalism," where time pressures create very little time to correct errors.

Despite the relatively responsible coverage of the September 11th events, Stossel notes that "it is a hideous irony that in some ghastly sense the terrorists achieved what network executives had been seeking since Survivor debuted on CBS tow years ago: ratings-busing "reality TV'" (Stossel, 111). In this way, it appears that critics may be correct in arguing that television coverage of the World Trade Center has both needlessly exploited the tragedy, and created a powerful forum for the terrorists involved.

In "Spin Laden," Philip Taylor looks at the ability of terrorists like Osama bin Laden manipulate the media in order to take advantage of widespread anti-American feelings around the world. He notes many recent images have been deliberately designed to spread anti-American feelings. These include rumors that 4,000 Jews did not turn up for work on September 11th at the World Trade Center.

Certainly, anti-American sentiment in the Middle East is very real. This feeling is so strong that even Saddam Hussein is widely seen as a hero because survived in his attempt to defy the powerful west. The developing world often feels manipulated and misunderstood by the West, and left far behind in the wildfire of economic globalization that has swept the developed world in the last decades. As such, Anti-American propaganda plays an important role in shaping public perceptions in the developing world.

Al-Jezeera, the first Arabic independent news channel in the Middle East provides an interesting comparison to media coverage in the United States. In "Arabian Knight Woos West" Janet Fine notes that the station became globally recognized due to airing a message from Osama bin Laden, and distinctive coverage of the September 11th attack on the World Trade Center.

Critics in the west accuse Al-Jezeera of being simply a mouthpiece for Mid-East interests. However, the station claims independent status and has won awards for its coverage from international sources. Other Westerners are wary of Al-Jezeera providing an outlet of anti-American views in the Middle East. They are concerned that terrorists will be more easily able to manipulate the Arabic channel to their specific viewpoints than Western news stations.

Lance Morrow's "The Gleam of a Pearl" confronts the cost of the media's coverage of journalism. The article details the tragic death of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Morrow notes that Pearl's desire to know the truth was dramatically opposed by the dogmatism that ultimately took his life. Ultimately, Morrow argues that journalist play an important role in revealing the truth, despite the common view of journalists as sensationalist and superficial and biased.

Morrow's analysis provides a compelling reason to reject any sort of governmentally-sponsored type of restriction on media coverage. The When journalists continue to die in search of the truth, it is a clear indication that there is a truth out there somewhere that a group wants hidden.

Importantly, an unfettered and free media is not condemned to serve the needs of the terrorists. The careful and responsible reporting advocated by Scott Stossel will go a long way in negating the terrorist's desires. Further, journalists like Daniel Pearl, who are willing to risk their lives in the pursuit of the truth, will likely do a great deal to reveal the terrorist's inner motivations.

In conclusion, media coverage terrorist acts does necessarily equate to meeting the terrorist agenda for recognition and acceptance. A free media can choose to responsibly report terrorist activities, and seek to use their power to reveal the truth behind terrorist actions. However, the presence of alternative viewpoints like Al-Jezeera and the continued work of journalists like Daniel Pearl are encouraging signs that today's global media is up to the task.

Works Cited

Fine, Janet. Arabian Knight Woos West. In: Unit 7, Terrorism and the Media.

Fundamentals of Terrorism. 14 November 2002.

Introduction. Unit 7, Terrorism and the Media, p. 103.

Morrow, Lance. The Gleam of a Pearl. In: Unit 7, Terrorism and the Media.

Nacos, Brigitte L. Accomplice or Witness? The Media's Role in Terrorism. In: Unit 7, Terrorism and the Media.

Stossell, Scott. Terror TV. In:… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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APA Format

Media and Terrorism Contemporary.  (2002, November 17).  Retrieved January 28, 2020, from

MLA Format

"Media and Terrorism Contemporary."  17 November 2002.  Web.  28 January 2020. <>.

Chicago Format

"Media and Terrorism Contemporary."  November 17, 2002.  Accessed January 28, 2020.