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Author Topic: Media coverage of terrorism ‘leads to further violence’  (Read 169 times)
zenitzz
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August 01, 2015, 08:00:02 PM
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Violence, so the saying goes, begets violence. Now evidence is emerging that suggests even the reporting of violence can trigger further attacks. Research has found that sensationalist media coverage of acts of terrorism results in more such acts being committed.

The study will prompt further debate about how the international media responds to atrocities. It also raises the possibility that media reports about a terrorist act can be viewed as a “warning” that follow-on attacks will be perpetrated in the near future.

Michael Jetter, a professor at the School of Economics and Finance at Universidad EAFIT in Medellín, Colombia, and a research fellow at the Institute for the Study of Labour in Bonn, Germany, analysed more than 60,000 terrorist attacks between 1970 and 2012 as reported in the New York Times. Jetter notes that over the past 15 years “the world has experienced a terrifying, exponential increase in the number of terrorist attacks”. The Global Terrorism Database listed 1,395 attacks in 1998, a figure that has steadily risen since then, reaching a record high of 8,441 in 2012.

The total number of casualties from terrorist attacks in the past 15 years has soared from 3,387 to 15,396. At the same time, terrorist groups have increasingly sought to use the media to promote their agendas.

Graphic videos of beheadings filmed by Islamic State and released on the internet have turned the group into a globally feared brand. But they have also prompted anguished questions about how much such organisations should be given “the oxygen of publicity”.

“Terrorist organisations receive extensive media attention,” Jetter says. “Whether it is the Taliban, al-Qaida, Boko Haram or, recently, Isis, terrorism is everywhere on TV stations, newspapers and the radio. We also know that terrorists need media coverage to spread their message, create fear and recruit followers.

“However, until now we did not know whether media attention actively encourages terrorist attacks. This paper derives an empirical methodology to provide an answer to that question.”

Jetter compared headline-grabbing terrorist attacks with those that occurred during a bigger story, such as a natural disaster, and found a clear link between the number of articles devoted to the initial terrorist incident and the number of follow-up attacks over the next few weeks.

The research builds on earlier work by other economists that suggests terrorism causes media attention and vice versa, leading to an inflationary spiral.

read more: http://www.theguardian.com/media/2015/aug/01/media-coverage-terrorism-further-violence

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