# Terrorismo

“International Terrorism and Electronic Media –Operation and Regulation of TV News Channels During Coverage Terrorism Part I



The concept of globalization or internationalization of certain wars, which were result of terrorist activities worldwide , as well as the high attention of  terrorism coverage broadcast worldwide might open up better opportunities to journalists – particularly to those who work in democratic countries like U.S.A and India – to improve their coverage. The context is the key: the context of the operation methodology, follow of guidelines of regulatory bodies,and of the journalistic culture and of the global environment.

It is very important how media presents consequences of terrorist acts, how information is transmitted to public. Television and press have had a significant impact on how public receives terrorist acts and their consequences. As a result, nearly each public survey indicates that responders almost anywhere put fear of terrorist acts o the top of their priority list.

In order to reach out on a conclusion on this paper,researcher has gone through number of books related to terrorism and media, has examined significant number of journals which deals with core issue of terrorism and its coverage by media.
Keywords: Terrorism,BBC,CNN,CNN-IBN,Coverage,Regulation


For most of the television age, from the end of World War II to the collapse of the Soviet Union, the deployment of positive and negative political labels was an integral part of Cold War politics and its dualistic view of the world. «Terrorism» was used extensively to characterise enemies of the United States and its allies, as in President Reagan’s assertion in 1985, that Libya, Cuba, Nicaragua and North Korea constituted a «confederation of terrorist states» intent on undermining American attempts «to bring stable and democratic government» to the developing world. Conversely, «friendly» states, like Argentina, could wage a full scale internal war against «terrorism», using a defintion elastic enough to embrace almost anyone who criticised the regime or held unacceptable opinions, and attract comparatively little censure despite the fact that this wholesale use of state terror killed and maimed many more civilians than the more publicised incidents of «retail» terror–assasinations, kidnappings and bombings.

Using modern means terrorism learned how to apply opportunities provided by media. Terrorists are able to exploit all advantages of media using them for presenting their political objectives and for gaining the support of the Islam world. In our opinion media multiply the impact of terrorist attacks. Global communications means provide real time coverage on terrorist acts. Each and every terrorist attack is a piece of news in the world. That is why it is not only the fact of destruction which is important for terrorists but also its social-psychological impact. Unexpected terrorist attacks are followed by panic, confusion among people which is news for media. For terrorist organisations “after action publicity” plays a very important role in their acknowledgement to which media are key. Freedom of press is a democratic achievement. In some cases this assists terrorists because media can increase uncertainty and fear among people.

Terrorist organisations and terrorist select their targets carefully and the murdered victims or destroyed facilities comprise terrorists’ messages to public and media. This message is used for intimidation, generating fear, transmitting terrorists’ demands. It is well known that media will report on terrorist acts and show the bloodiest pictures without delay.

It took 9/11 to truly give it a global dimension. Problem is no nearer to a solution. The temptation to add “before it gets worse” has to be avoided. It is not likely to get better for a long time to come. The role of media in covering terrorism was dramatically high lightened in the aftermath of September 11 bombings in west and 26/11 in India. Perhaps for the first time ever the primacy of Anglo- American media channels CNN and BBC was challenged by a Qatar based Arabic station Al –Jazeera to challenge the realm of CNN- and BBC. CNN had become the most powerful medium to communicate information, disinformation and misinformation. The National Security advisor Condoleza Rice even suggested to the network to reconsider relying the prerecorded tapes- propaganda tapes- according to her – broadcast via Al-Jazzera. Going live and unedited has been perhaps the greatest challenge to broadcast journalism since the advent of satellite broadcast.

Similarly in India 26/11 put forward many challenges and raised many questions on the methodologies adopted by TV Channels to cover and portray it on screen about terror act.

The  coverage of  movement of marine commandos by Hindi and English both TV channels which alerted the operators were highly criticized by media experts. The 24 *7 channels broadcasted live on operation and gave minute details about the whole operation to their viewers which resulted broadcasters association in India to issue certain guidelines for TV channels. The insurgency in Jammu and Kashmir and random operation of security forces also get coverage on TV channels which some time crosses the set boundaries by TV channels.

Same happens when major or minor terror acts take place across India and TV channels looses their patience in order to get ‘breaking’ not realizing the sensitivity of issue.

1.1-Objective and Aim of  Paper—

«Terrorism» is a term that cannot be given a stable definition. Or rather, it can, but to do so forestalls any attempt to examine the major feature of its relation to television in the contemporary world. As the central public arena for organizing ways of picturing and talking about social and political life, TV plays a pivotal role in the contest between competing definitions, accounts and explanations of terrorism.

The objective of research is divided in five major areas where I intend to focus.     First is to understand the term terrorism and broadcast media separately .Secondly to establish a relation between the terrorism and its coverage on medium. The study is focused on how the coverage of international terrorism has been so far on international and domestic media. Fourth stage is to study about the regulatory bodies on their guidelines to broadcast medium on coverage of terrorism. The study has carried a detail about how media channels has portrayed the issue of terrorism and where they have crossed the set guidelines. The last stage has carried a detail guideline and study on what needs to be done within regulatory bodies and broadcast medium to act upon while covering the issue of terrorism.

  • To understand the term “International Terrorism” in broader perspective.
  • To know “The Medium –Electronic Media”. It is first necessary to define the terms used in the title of this article.

Media is a generic term meaning all the methods or channels of information and entertainment. The mass media are taken to encompass newspapers, radio and television, but other important forms of communications include books, films, music, theatre and the visual arts. The late twentieth century has seen the globalisation of the mass media culture, but we should not overlook the fact that

throughout history informal methods of communication such as the gossip of the taverns, streets and marketplaces have been the standard local media for  transmitting information, and these informal channels coexist with all the latest multimedia technology in contemporary societies.

  • To carry out a detail study on how the coverage of issue of terrorism is portrayed on Electronic Medium. Critical study of Channels on their response to coverage of terrorism of selected events  like 9/11 and 26/11 consequences of them.
  • An analytical study of regulatory bodies and guidelines proposed by them for broadcast journalists.
  • To put forward a comprehensive conclusion on what needs to be done by regulatory bodies, broadcast medium and broadcast journalists while covering the issue of terrorism and a study on what they have done so far.

1.2-Research Question and Issues for Discussion—

Hence the research question in this  paper is basically circling around

1.2.1-Definition of Terrorism —Remember there are two philosophy on it. One which has been defined by U.S.A administration which randomly comes across scrutiny . Similary  International media questions the Indian govt’s definition of terrorism in certain parts mostly in case of J&K. There is other side of definition which is suggested by media critic and social activist. This is discussed.

The term terrorism as used in this paper denotes a particular type of violence. It is not employed as a synonym for politically motivated violence in general. It has five distinguishing characteristics:

1)it is premeditated and designed to create a climate of extreme fear;

2) it is directed at a wider target than the immediate victims;

3) it inherently involves attacks on random or symbolic targets,

including civilians;

4) it is considered by the society in which it occurs as ‘extra-normal’,

that is in the literal sense that it violates the norms regulating

disputes, Protest and dissent; and

5) it is used primarily, though not exclusively, to influence the political behaviour of governments, communities or specific social groups.The weapon of terror is used extensively by both sub-state and state actors in the international system, and has, since the 1980s, been increasingly used by groups with a religious motivation and as a

method of intimidating the authorities or media

1.2.2-Coverage by Broadcast Media—The basic question which is raised by researcher is the role of media in covering the issue of terrorism. It deals with not realizing the sensitivity of issue. Sharing the platform with govt as mouth piece of govt as has been questioned by media critics in case of BBC and CNN. The paper is analyzing the coverage of these four channels and portray of terrorism by analyzing the text of script, the video footage and having discussion with key reporters. A verbal permission has been granted by a senior editorial staff of CNN-IBN. The researcher is aspiring to study the discussions and reports of selected terrorism events like 9/11 and 26/11.

In order to achieve their objectives terrorist organisations need all forms of mass media. It is very important how media presents consequences of terrorist acts, how information is transmitted to public. Previously terrorist acts had less attention than nowadays. It is worth to see that terrorist attacks in New York, Madrid, London or Bali had record publicity in mass media while terrorist acts committed in other regions had only “standard” coverage. Television and press have had a significant impact on how public receives terrorist acts and their consequences. As a result, nearly each public survey indicates that responders almost anywhere put fear of terrorist acts o the top of their priority list.

Information (comments) attached to news on terrorist acts has a large influence on the views and responses of public, particularly when the event is met with wide consensus (condemnation) and no exchange of opinions is possible. In such cases different opinions do not clash and there is no debate over the consideration of terrorist acts. In other words deliberate distortion remains invisible. Characteristic features of terrorist acts, suicide attacks can be summarised in one remarkable fact: terrorist acts are committed for the public and for influencing the public. Without either of these terrorism – from a terrorist aspect – is useless and pointless. One of the important intentions of terrorists is escalation: to advertise their views, to make their objectives accepted, to increase the number of their supporters, to enhance the efficiency of their actions. All these are impossible to achieve without sufficient publicity to their actions. This is also well known by their enemies but the brutality of actions forces media to provide news coverage or even detailed accounts. Therefore terrorist attacks appear to be propaganda actions aimed at making certain doctrines or views popular through the use of modern means of mass media. Terrorist acts are usually bloody dramas tailored to the needs of media by terrorists that is terrorists try to achieve as large an input as possible. After all no secret action of some selected few is not intended to remain in secret during their execution.

1.2.3-Role of regulatory bodies—Regulatory bodies are supposed to issue some fundamental guidelines to broadcast media and media persons when they cover and report on terrorism. But the question is how far they have practiced their duties? The study has analyzed the existing guidelines proposed by these regulatory bodies and their methods to ensure the action by media channels. And if no, then why it has not been influential in pressurizing the media channels  to follow the set guidelines?

A  policy option on media response to terrorism is some form of media censorship or statutory regulation. In view of the great power wielded by-the media, for good or ill, it is hardly surprising to find that, when faced with severe terrorist campaigns, several democratic countries have sought to deny the terrorist direct access to the important platform of the broadcast media. This was clearly the prime concern underlying former Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s demand that the terrorists should be starved of the oxygen of publicity, and the British government’s ban, since rescinded, on broadcasting the voices of terrorist spokespersons.

1.2.4-Reccommendations of Research—The researcher has analyzed all the situation at national and international level which contains wide definition of terrorism, coverage by broadcast media ,role of regulatory bodies and then has proposed a study based on research and existing guidelines, which may suggest broadcast media on their principles and guidelines while covering the issue of terrorism. There are a number of other important ways in which responsible media in a democracy serve to frustrate the aims of terrorists.

Terrorists like to Present themselves as noble Robin Hoods,champions of the oppressed and downtrodden. By showing the savage cruelty of terrorists’ violence and the way in which they violate the rights of the innocent, the media can help to shatter this myth. It is

quite easy to show, by plain photographic evidence, how terrorists have failed to observe any laws or rules of war, how they have murdered women and children, the old and the sick, without compunction. For in terrorist practice no one is innocent, no one can

be neutral, for all are potentially expendable for the transcendental ends of terrorist cause.

What else can the media do in a positive way to aid in the struggle against terrorism? There are numerous practical forms of help they can provide. Responsible and accurate reporting of incidents can create heightened vigilance among the public to observe, for example, unusual packages, suspicious persons or behaviour. At the practical

level the media can carry warnings to the public from the police, and instructions as to how they should react to an emergency. Frequently media with international coverage can provide valuable data and leads concerning foreign movements, links between personalities and different terrorist personalities and different terrorist organisations,

new types of weaponry and possible future threats, such as the planning of an international terrorist ‘spectacular’, or warning signs of a new threat.Finally, the media also provide an indispensable forum for informed discussion concerning the social and political implications of terrorism and the development of adequate policies and counter-measures. And media which place a high value on democratic freedoms will, rightly

and necessarily, continually remind the authorities of their broader responsibilities to ensure that the response to terrorism is consistent with the rule of law, respect for basic rights and the demands of social justice.In sum, it can be argued that these contributions by the media to the war against terrorism are so valuable that they outweigh the disadvantages and risks and the undoubted damage caused by a small minority of irresponsible journalists and broadcasters. The positive work of the media has been either gravely underestimated or ignored. It is always fair game, especially for politicians, to attack the media. A more considered assessment suggests that the media in western liberal states are a weapon that can be used as a major tool in the defeat of terrorism. The media need not become the instrument of the terrorist.

Hence researcher put forward the topic “International Terrorism and Electronic Media –Operation and Regulation of Electronic Media during Terrorism Coverage” in order to reach on Decision-Making.

The basic questions which are arising in proposed paper are—

  1. Do we really understand the term Terrorism?
  2. Do we find that the term terrorism has been used by some nation to widely categories a particular ethnic race or religion for their own glory and power?
  3. How fit and true are the western definitions or definition given in developing world?
  4. How far broadcast media has played its role on defining the term and creating awareness about the term “International Terrorism”?
  5. How responsible international and national media( Study of BBC,CNN,CNN-IBN and Aaj Tak) have been in portraying news, live coverage, discussions and talk shows related to terrorism?
  6. Have these channels portrayed and thus created awareness among viewers about terrorism?
  7. Have they followed existing guidelines proposed by concerned regulatory bodies and have adopted a restrained methodology while dealing with the issue of terrorism?
  8. Have the channels not glorified the term terrorism?
  9. What are regulatory bodies?
  10. What they have done or what guidelines they have set to suggest broadcast media while covering sensitive issues like terrorism?
  11. How far they have succeeded to pressurize the channels to follow the guidelines?
  12. What are these guidelines?
  13. What are the loopholes in these guidelines?
  14. What is the proposed way in the thesis on principles and guidelines for broadcast media while covering the issue of terrorism?
  15. Why the study required and why the existing guidelines have succeeded or not succeeded?


Ratnesh Dwivedi Institutional Representative of SECINDEF (Security Intelligence and Defense) Israel-USA International Consulting Counterterrorism in the India and collaborating analyst of OCATRY (Observatory against the Terrorist Threat and the Jihadist Radicalization) Scholar,Amity School of Communication,Amity University,Uttar Pradesh,India.