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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 167823 Find in a Library
Title: Media Further the Goals of Terrorists (From Urban Terrorism, P 93-103, 1996, A E Sadler and Paul A Winters, eds. -- See NCJ- 167808)
Author(s): A P Schmid
Date Published: 1996
Page Count: 11
Sponsoring Agency: Greenhaven Press
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
Sale Source: Greenhaven Press
P.O. Box 9187
Farmington Hills, MI 48333-9187
United States of America
Type: Issue Overview
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: By exploiting terrorist acts to maximize their audience size, the media magnify public sympathy for those whose lives are threatened by terrorists; this in turn increases the pressure on public officials to comply with terrorists' demands.
Abstract: This paper uses the TWA #847 terrorist incident (hijacking of the flight from Cairo to Rome on June 14, 1985) to show how the media coverage of the incident served the goals of the terrorists. One effect of the TWA hostage crisis was to generate fear among Americans about traveling to Europe and some Mediterranean countries. The media's coverage thus not only provided information about the incident but served as a channel for terrorists to intimidate large numbers of people. Some might argue that the perception stimulated by the media was accurate and helpful in protecting people from potential terrorist attacks. People's decisions to cancel reservations on flights to Europe and the Middle East, however, were not based on statistical probabilities, but upon the fear generated by the media coverage. Consequently, the terrorists succeeded in causing business losses to those countries that rely on tourism. The basic role of a media code of ethics is to ensure that terrorists who kill and threaten to kill noncombatants to create bad news are denied access to the media. This is not an easy decision, however. Sometimes publicity is demanded under the threat of killing hostages. The denial of access to the media following small-scale terrorist violence might result in mass slaughters that cannot be ignored by the media. Such a scenario is possible for perhaps 2 percent of all terrorist groups. The others do not have the means for escalation. The violence output they produce already stretches their resources to the maximum. The current media codes of ethics rarely address some of the most burning ethical problems of journalism, and the rules of enforcement are practically absent in most, if not all, democracies.
Main Term(s): Criminology
Index Term(s): Media coverage; Media-terrorism relationships; Terrorist tactics
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