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Would Terrorist Acts Decline if News Media Paid Less Attention?

Would Terrorist Acts Decline if News Media Paid Less Attention?

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By Allison G.S. Knox
Contributor, EDM Digest

Recently, church bombings in Egypt killed 76 people and injured dozens of others. In Norway, authorities raised the nation’s threat level after they discovered and destroyed a device that resembled a bomb.

Terrorist attacks are designed to be horribly frightening because they often result in mass casualties. They also stoke fears that similar incidents will happen again in the not-so-distant future.

Terrorist attacks are also highly publicized events. The sheer act of brutal and indiscriminate killing compels millions of TV and other media viewers to watch and try to make sense of these barbarous acts. This is precisely the problem with reporting terrorist attacks; the coverage fuels terrorists groups to continue plotting and carrying out more carnage.

But would terrorist incidents decline if media coverage were minimal or non-existent?

Terrorist Attacks and Sensationalism

Terrorism thrives in the media spotlight. Ordinary citizens fear terrorist activity, which is precisely what those who carry out these attacks want. Of course, citizens need to know what is happening in the world. But perhaps at a certain point, news coverage becomes a vicious cycle of sensationalism fueling more terrorism.

Journalists say they are duty-bound to report the news; anything less than full coverage amounts to censorship, whether self-imposed or mandated by their employer or by their national leaders.

But terrorist attacks are political in nature and seek to garner as much media coverage as possible. But, from a security standpoint, perhaps reducing the media frenzy – or simply not reporting acts of terrorism at all – might prove beneficial, especially if news blackouts saved lives.



American Military University
Allison G. S. Knox An emergency medical technician and a political scientist, Allison focuses on Emergency Management and Emergency Medical Services policy. Allison has taught at the undergraduate level since 2010. Prior ... learn more

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