# Terrorismo



The balance to be struck is between the citizen’s right to reliable neutral information and faith in public authorities who may have legitimate national security reasons for withholding information, but who might also misinform or attempt to spin their policies and performances for personal or partisan gain. Numerous studies suggest the US media have been too uncritical in their coverage of the Bush Administration’s policies implemented in response to the events of September 11. Critiques range from the media’s failure to challenge the validity of a «war on terror» to a lack of critical analysis, reportage, and commentary on the war on terror (see, for example, Coe et al.; Kellner). The dilemma here is straightforward: if the press is too critical of the Administration, it risks incurring the Administration’s wrath, as when former Attorney General of the United States John Ashcroft testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee:

… to those who scare peace-loving people with phantoms of lost liberty; my message is this: Your tactics only aid terrorists-for they erode our national unity and diminish our resolve. They give ammunition to America’s enemies, and pause to America’s friends. They encourage people of good will to remain silent in the face of evil. («Testimony of Attorney General John Ashcroft»)

The response of the media in the US was often far from being objective, calm, and prudent. Instead, media organs oozed hatred and hysteria, calling for action against mainly Arabs and Muslims and crying for revenge, as terrorists would have planned. The major corporate media tended to support the patriotic discourse and the policies of the then president George W. Bush, who was leading the nation against the forces of “political and cosmological evil” (Lewis 2005). This way of media coverage after a traumatic event dramatically changed the public perceptions, discourse at government and public levels, and the way people perceive events and “other” people, specifically ethnic and religious minorities who can be perceived as a “threat”. As a result, as Altheide (2009) argues, the discourse of fear has been constructed through news and popular culture accounts and the main discourse of fear has clearly become terrorism in the post 9/11 era. In other words, “9/11 was used by the media and politicians to promote fear related agendas and ideologies. Citizens became accustomed to ‘safety rhetoric’ by police officials, which often required them to permit police searches, condone ‘overaggressive’ police action, as well as join in a myriad of crime-prevention efforts, many of which involved more human as well as electronic surveillance of work places, neighborhoods, stores, and even ‘bodies’” (Altheide 2009).


The proposed research study will reveal following points of study:

  1. Definition of terrorism in post 9/11 and 26/11 scenario is correct
  2. Coverage of 9/11 and 26/11 by BBC and CNN was as per norms of regulatory bodies
  3. There is need of certain set of guidelines while covering issue of terrorism by TV channels.
  4. Government and News entity run guidelines are not effective


Basic objective of proposed Ph.D. is:

  • To understand the term “International Terrorism” after 9/11 in International Context and after 26/11 in Indian context
  • To carry out a detail study on how the coverage of issue of terrorism is portrayed on BBC and CNN. Critical study of BBC and CNN on their response to coverage of terrorist attack of 9/11 and 26/11 with in next three months of event.

To study coverage of terrorism in the context of 9/11 and 26/11 attacks and its portrayal in BBC and CNN

An analytical study of frame work of regulations followed by BBC and CNN while coverage of 9/11 and 26/11. To understand role of regulatory bodies and guidelines for the coverage of 9/11 and 26/11 by BBC and CNN

  • An analytical study and suggestion for regulatory bodies and guidelines proposed  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.

There is no doubt that terrorism must be reported. However, the way the events are framed and the extent to which it is covered is also important. Accordingly, in order to alter the symbiotic relationship between terrorism and the media, it is of high importance for the media to reevaluate and change its rhetoric when covering the terrorism-related news and stories. Just as the security elite can desecuritize issues in international affairs through speech-acts, media can adopt the same approach and desecuritize terrorism-related acts and stories through covering those incidents just as any other story in a more responsible and less “sensational” manner. Achieving this may not only prevent terrorists from using media coverage as an important publicity and recruitment tool, but may also prevent the emergence of an atmosphere of fear at the public level. It may also force government and security elite to make more rational decisions regarding countering terrorism and dealing with public outrage. Hence, news coverage with less repetition of horrific scenes, less traumatization, less sensation and more information and prudence are essential in the first place to break the symbiosis.

When one says ‘terrorism’ in a democratic society, one says ‘media’. For terrorism by its very nature is a psychological weapon which depends upon communicating a threat to the wider society. This, in essence, is why terrorism and the media enjoy a symbiotic relationship. The free media clearly do not represent terrorist values. Generally they tend to reflect the underlying values of the democratic society. But the media in an open society are in a fiercely competitive market for their audiences, constantly under pressure to be first with the news and to provide more information, excitement and entertainment than their rivals. Hence they almost bound to respond to terrorist propaganda of

the deed because it is dramatic bad news. Thus, as explained earlier,the media are in a kind of symbiotic relationship with terrorism. This does not, of course, mean that the mass media are controlled by the terrorists. It does mean that they are continually attempting to manipulate and exploit the free media for their own ends. It also means that responsible media professionals and the public need to be constantly on their guard against terrorist attempts to manipulate them.

Terrorists view the mass media in a free society in entirely cynical and opportunistic terms. They have nothing but contempt for the values and attitudes of the democratic mass media. For example, they view the media’s expressed concern for the protecting human life as mere hypocrisy and sentimentality. However, many terrorist leaders are well aware that their cause can be damaged by unfavourable publicity. Hence the more established and sophisticated terrorist movements and their political ‘Front’ organisations, such as Sinn Fein and Herri Batasuna, invest considerable time and effort in waging propaganda warfare directed both at domestic and international audiences.

This does not mean that the established democratic media share the values

of the terrorists. It does demonstrate, however, that the free media in an open society are particularly vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation by ruthless terrorist organisations. In using TV, radio and the print media the terrorists generally have four main objectives:

1) To convey the propaganda of the deed and to create extreme fear  among their target group/S;

2) To mobilise wider support for their cause among the general population, and international opinion by emphasising such themes as righteousness of their cause and the inevitability of their victory;

3) To frustrate and disrupt the response of the government and security forces, for example by suggesting that all their practical antiterrorist measures are inherently tyrannical and counterproductive;and

4) To mobilise, incite and boost their constituency of actual and potential supporters and in so doing to increase recruitment, raise more funds and inspire further attacks.


In the proposed Ph.D. thesis researcher has applied a mixed set of research methods but avoiding empirical or quantitative research methods and indulging in discourse analysis by applying descriptive,analytical ,qualitiative and conceptual research methods as discussed under:


8.1:Research Approach:

Content Analysis based on discourse related to coverage of 9/11 and 26/11 by BBC and CNN by analyzing transcripts of coverage.

Descriptive research-

In the proposed Ph D researcher intends to do a descriptive research by analyzing the status of  definition terrorism in contemporary scenario

The researcher will go in all details while dealing with issue by applying descriptive research methodology to understand broader definition of international terrorism in post 9/11 and 26/11 scenario. 

Analytical research—

The proposed thesis will examine all the facts available so far. The details from specific TV Channels(BBC and CNN are chosen for study) will be collected to go thorough the text of coverage of terrorism(two events are chosen namely 9/11 and 26/11) discussion on this issue which has been conducted in studios, and examination of transcripts available in video library of TV channels or sourced from Ph.D Supervisors. On the same pattern guidelines, datas and facts of regulatory bodies will be studied in order to reach out on a conclusion on how they have performed so far.

Qualitative research–

By applying qualitative research methodology researcher intend to examine the post 9/11 and post 26/11 phenomenon and its coverage of terrorism by BBC and CNN .The study will, deal in detail, about the shift in coverage of terrorism and regulations followed by TV channels(BBC and CNN) in this issue. Role of regulatory bodies will also be examined in detail. This methodology will help researcher on studying, how effective and intensified has been the coverage of terrorism after these two major events of terrorism.

Conceptual research—

The researcher plans to develop a study and guideline for broadcast media by applying this research methodology which may guide broadcast media while coverage of issue of terrorism. The research will be based on current guidelines and regulation by existing organizations. The research will also give a conceptual framework to the issue of terrorism and its coverage by broadcast media.

8.2:Sample Collection and Design:

  1. A) Sample Design- Analysis of transcripts of three months from 9/11 and 26/11 of BBC and CNN
  1. B) Sample type: Transcripts of coverage on 9/11 and 26/11 by BBC and CNN
  1. c) Sample Area: Transcripts of programs on BBC and CNN related to 9/11 and 26/11
  1. D) Sample Size: Three months from 9/11 and 26/11



The researcher aims to source data (text of transcripts & c. for the purpose of discourse analysis) from various sources, which includes—

Books and Journals

Electronic Databases

Bibliographic Databases

Abstract Databases

Full-Text Databases

Govt. and Industry Reports


Research Dissertations / Thesis

Reports of Regulatory bodies

Tracked footage  of BBC and CNN till three months of 9/11 and 26/11.

And majorly transcripts of coverage of 9/11 and 26/11 by BBC and CNN from these channels itself or from libraries where these transcripts or stored.

Study Period: Three months from 9/11 and 26/11 (11/09/2003-11/12/2003 and 26/11/2008-26/02/2009)


  • To understand coverage of 9/11 and 26/11 by BBC and CNN
  • To understand definition of Terrorism
  • To understand regulatory framework on coverage of terrorism


The implications of study suggests that there is a clear divide of opinion among selected channels on the defining terrorism.

10.1:Objectivity :

The media should have a conscious sense of its responsibilities to the public, as one of the goals of terrorists it to shake public confidence in their own security. Thus, objectivity and bipartisanship should be key when reporting a story. The media should present both sides of the story to the audience fairly and accurately without bias, so that the audience can make their own opinion of the news and/or story independent of the media’s negative influence. The media coverage of success stories should be balanced with the coverage of failure stories without speculation and dramatization in order to add to the credibility of the source and public order in the aftermath of an attack.

10.2 :Clarity:

Since a critical part of counterterrorism is information warfare, it is among the goals of terrorists to misinform the public and exploit the uncertainty and suspicion emerged afterwards. Given these, the media should provide the clearest, most factual, and most balanced information to the extent it is possible to prevent the misinterpretation of terrorism-related incidents by the public and government officials who can possibly make suboptimal decisions regarding the countering moves. The media should especially avoid presenting extreme and blindly partisan viewpoints to raise ratings and use a plain language that everybody can understand in order not to invite panic.

10.3 :Selective use of soft power :

Even though some advocate the use of media tools for propaganda against terrorists, specifically in the narrative warfare in radical extremism, this is generally fruitless, given that the media has certain limits and legal and moral obligations, while terrorists do not. It is also counterproductive, as media propoganda amplifies the perceived power of a terrorist organization. Instead, media can be employed as a public affairs and public diplomacy tool instead of a propaganda tool to influence foreign publics and potential recruits. To this end, without propaganda, through the “new” and “traditional” media tools, the extremist narrative can be countered with an equally clear and appealing narrative to deny access to the public terrorists draw their support from.

10.4:Differentiation :

Since no terrorist group is alike, the media should differentiate between different types of terrorism and terrorist groups in order not to provoke and mobilize public against certain ethnic and/or religious minorities. In other words, it is of high importance not to cover news and stories in such a way to contribute to the “otherization” of the group in question and create an “us vs. them” scenario. Such dichotomy can give way to social unrest in multicultural societies that fail to integrate certain groups and trigger further attacks, as the anger and hopelessness become pushing forces for potential recruiters, sympathizers, and even moderates to uprise.

10.5 :Counter cyber-terrorism :

The Internet has become a central forum in a global scale for debate among numerous communities that are being directly affected by the global political violence. The communication of violent and oppressive groups has also heavily relied on the Internet. In other words, the age of the Internet has brought an age of online terrorism and enabled terrorists to use the web to recruit, raise money, and spread their messages. Even though the regulation of the media, specifically the Internet, presents a fundamental dilemma due to the inherent tension between censorship and the democratic tradition of free speech, privacy, and press freedom, it is crucial to take countering measures against the cyber activities of terrorists. These measures can include tracking their activities on online forums, following their conservations and activities on social media, and prevent the spread of radicalizing materials from specific websites. In addition to that, enacting laws at national level to punish the ones using the Internet to provoke the public, recruit and train, and propagandize can identify terrorists and prevent a potential attack.

10.6 :Government assistance :

Governments can give assistance to media organs by giving the political context and background of any terrorism-related act or story, as it is ideally the ultimate goal of the media to correctly inform the audience. To this end, a government-media partnership that is better informing the public, refuting the arguments of terrorists, and depriving them of the publicity they need can be formed.



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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. Journalist / Acdemic / Writer and NASA Certified Educator