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Friday, October 24, 2014

Understanding The Determinants Of Terrorist Attack Publicity - THESIS

Profits, government repression main goals of "mainstream media" in hyping "terror" while encouraging, aiding and abetting copycat attacks by wanna-be "jihadist" You Tube, Twitter, Facebook social media fruitcakes and losers    

UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA SAN DIEGO
By Arik Burakovsky
04/01/2013

Thesis Overview 

There has been substantial research on the causes and consequences of terrorism around the world, but only a few studies have examined the role of terrorist attack publicity. The question of what determines the media coverage of terrorist incidents is seldom asked by scholars but is nonetheless crucial to understanding how a terrorist group communicates its message. 


Terrorism is generally seen as a communicative strategy of extremist organizations that aim to spread fear and disseminate propaganda in order to try to gain concessions from the government through the process of bargaining. 

Terrorism is premeditated and politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or individuals. 

It has been used historically by radical leftists, nationalists, and religious fundamentalists in the pursuit of their goals.


Terrorist groups typically do not have enough material resources – personnel, funds, or territory under their control – to achieve their aims through military actions or legitimate means such as lobbying or navigating the legislative process. 

Their supporters are usually in the extreme minority, and they are generally much weakerthan the authorities they try to coerce (Lake 2002). Instead, terrorist organizations typically engage in psychological campaigns to influence a sizable audience by attacking civilians or striking more symbolic targets.


Communication is inherent to any act of terrorism. 

Besides attempting to harm the immediate victims, terrorists often threaten a target population and call upon potential sympathizers to support their cause in order to try to coerce the government to concede to their demands. 


Media attention is generally an important way for terrorist groups to communicate with the public and therefore try to gain concessions from the authorities. The media involves all means and channels of information, including newspapers, television, the radio, websites, and magazines.  Journalists employed by media organizations collect, analyze, verify and present information regarding events, trends, issues, and people. The public’s awareness of terrorism comes almost entirely from news reporting, making it essential to terrorist organizations’ promotion of their goals. 


The media’s centrality in the calculus of terrorism is affirmed by the notion of the “propaganda of the deed.” 

Schmid and de Graaf (1982, 14) explain that forterrorists, “the immediate victim is merely instrumental, the skin of a drum beaten to achieve a calculated impact on a wider audience.”


Terrorists generally want the media to cover their activities extensively in order to gain recognition, voice their message, and try to get the government to listen to them. 

The Geneva Declaration on Terrorism recognizes that the media may play into the hands of terrorists by “uncritically disseminating information” and selectively covering their attacks. Although media organizations today exercise disciplined restraint with respect to terrorist propaganda, they nonetheless continue to publicize terrorist activities day after day. 




When terrorist organizations plan their attacks, they often consider the likelihood of gaining media attention. Weimann and Winn (1994, 52) describe terrorism as a theatrical production in which “terrorists pay attention to script preparation, cast selection, sets, props, role playing, and minute-by-minute stage management.” The possibility of receiving the spotlight is important to terrorist groups because it increases the expected returns of carrying out their attacks.


Terrorists often vie for publicity by exploiting far-reaching, instant media networks and information highways that carry news about their activities around the world. However, media attention to terrorist incidents varies a great deal. While most acts of terrorism receive almost no attention by the media, a few of them receive overwhelming publicity.


Weimann and Winn (1994, 68) estimate that major newspapers in the United States cover about one third of transnational terroristattacks, whereas major American television stations report approximately one in six events. Chermak and Gruenewald (2006) find that even a smaller percentage of terrorist attacks in the United States are reported by prominent domestic media organisations. 

Read the rest of this thesis Here.



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