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NCJRS Abstract

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NCJ Number: 98741 Find in a Library
Title: Terrorism and the Media - Patterns of Occurrence and Presentation, 1969-1980 (From Terrorism, Political violence and World Order, P 103-134, 1984, Henry H Han, ed. - See NCJ-98738)
Author(s): M X D Carpini; B A Williams
Date Published: 1984
Page Count: 32
Sponsoring Agency: University Press of America
Lanham, MD 20706
Sale Source: University Press of America
Marketing Director
4720 Boston Way
Lanham, MD 20706
United States of America
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This comparison of a comprehensive data base of international terrorist events from 1969 to 1980 with a content analysis of television network news in the same period indicates how accurately the networks portrayed international terrorism.
Abstract: The content analysis examined the 'Television News Index and Abstracts' published monthly by Vanderbilt University. Key information was obtained for all weekday network news broadcasts for all three national networks from January 1969 to December 1980. The baseline (the measure of actual terrorist occurrences) was supplied by the research of Edward F. Mickolus. This data set, known as ITERATE (International Terrorism: Attributes of Terrorist Events), analyzes worldwide information sources, thus providing a systematic portrayal of trends in international terrorism. The final data were gathered from videotapes of all the broadcasts on the takeover and holding of the Dominican Republic Embassy in Columbia. The units of measurement compared were (1) time spent in network broadcast coverage and (2) number of terrorist acts documented in the events data. The study determined how accurately the networks adjusted the amount and emphasis of their coverage to match the changing occurrence of international terrorism. It also reconstructed the conclusions likely to be drawn by a viewer of the news regarding trends in international terrorism, compared to a more 'objective' catalogue of events. The reporting of the three networks was compared as well. Findings indicate that the networks presented almost identical views of international terrorism, suggesting formidable pressures for conformity. Additionally, the consensus view presented was inaccurate. The overall amount of coverage varied almost randomly, showing no relationship to the amount of terrorism occurring from year to year. The Middle East received undue attention year after year, and Latin America was systematically downplayed. Similar inconsistencies were found in the portrayal of the types of terrorism. Even when focusing solely on terrorism affecting U.S. citizens, the network coverage bore little relationship to actual events. Tabular data and a 30-item bibliography are provided.
Index Term(s): International terrorism; Media coverage; Public information; Television programming
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