Mass-mediated Terrorism: The Central Role of the Media in Terrorism and Counterterrorism

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Osama bin Laden, Al Qaeda, and their associates wrote a new chapter in the annals of terrorism on September 11 with the most lethal acts of political violence to date. Although the magnitude of the actions was unprecedented, the role of mass media in this terrorist scheme was as central as ever. This in-depth look at "mass-mediated" terrorism and political violence shows how terrorists exploit global media networks and information highways to carry news of their violence along with "propaganda of the deed." To what extent are the media advancing or obstructing the propaganda and policy goals of terrorists and their targets? Has the Internet strengthened the hands of terrorists to organize, recruit, and spread propaganda? How have targets of terrorism used the media to manipulate public opinion and advance their own agendas? From U.S. cases like 9/11, Oklahoma City, and acts of ecoterrorists, to incidents abroad like Palestinian suicide bombings in Israel, European hostages held in the Philippines, and violent protests at major international summits, Nacos explores the use of political violence for the sake of publicity, media coverage of counterterrorism policies and its affect on political decisionmaking, and the impact of new media. She offers a blueprint both for effective public information and media relations during terrorism crises as well as for ethical news coverage of major terrorism incidents.

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About the author (2002)

Brigitte L. Nacos is adjunct professor of political science at Columbia University.

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