Does Terrorism Still Need Mass Media?

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The relationship between terrorism and media
In his famous article entitled Television and Terrorism: Implication for Crisis Management and Policy-Making, Ronald D. Crelinsten asked a rhetoric question about the relationship between terrorism and media. He said, “If a terrorist’s bomb explodes and no one hear it, did the bomb ever explode?” (1997: 9). From that question, it is clear that the role of media is essential for the terrorism. The media conveys the message of ‘terror’ to the terrorists’ intended audiences. Hence, without the media as messages generator, terrorism might only be an ordinary crime.
Alex Schmid and Janny de Graaf argued that terrorism is an act of communication. They stated that “For the terrorist the message matters, not the victim” (1982: 14). In this notion, terrorist groups, or lone-wolf terrorists, are most likely use the media as their ‘stage’ while they are demonstrating the act of terror to their audiences (Crelinsten 2008: 21). Therefore, the victims are only one instrument of their performance, because the main goal of their demonstration is to create and spread fear among the audiences. By borrowing Crelinsten’s expression, it is “…the victimization of noncombatants or innocents for the purposes of gaining public recognition for particular causes”. This perspective is most likely support the core idea of terror itself, which establishes the term “terrorism”, which is “to frighten” or “to tremble” (Juergensmeyer 2003). Supporting the idea, Gabriel Weimann and Conrad Winn (1993) use the term “the theater of terror” to emphasize terrorism’s orchestration aspect in the mass media.
The ‘state of fear’ as causality of terrorism refers to the self-recognition of particular audiences who think that they...

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...ain massive attention from its audiences. For the media, public attention is equal to certain numbers of rating and it means big business. Because terrorist attack is an extraordinary story, and the victims bring human-interest stories, for instance, the media would probably gain more attention from its audiences, and it means they could dig more gold.
The main reason why the coverage was so intense was the competition between the major networks. The search for scoops is something that is rewarding for the individual journalist in terms of status and professional awards. On the institutional level the gain is a higher market share and, consequently, higher returns from advertisements. (Schmid 1989: 555)

According to Nacos (2007), the following question is about the media ethics. Nonetheless, this essay would not discuss the ethical dimension of the relationship.

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