Employing of Media during Terrorism

Employing of Media during Terrorism

Muhammad Ayish (American University of Sharjah, UAE)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-5776-2.ch011
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Communication has proven to be an integral component of the terrorism phenomenon. To unravel the opportunities and challenges embedded in employing the media during terrorism, this chapter draws on research findings and practical experiences around the world to identify prime actors associated with this issue and to describe their objectives, tactics, and channels of communication. It is argued here that media constitute a vital resource in the war on terror with both terrorist organizations and states harnessing communication to advance their causes in the public sphere. In this context, four categories of media users have been identified: media institutions, terrorist organizations, governments, and citizen groups. The chapter discusses enduring issues associated with each actor's use of media and calls for evolving new conceptual frameworks for understanding media use during terrorism. It concludes by arguing that while we seem to have a huge pool of research findings and practical experiences related to using the media during terrorism, we seem to have a critical shortage in how we conceptually account for the different variables that define the use of media in terrorism situations.
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Employing Media During Terrorism: Defining The Parameters

The emerging media sphere in its real and virtual expressions is a vast communication landscape buzzing with wide-ranging formats, messages, and users. Ever since the introduction of digital technologies in the late 1980s, the communication market has experienced its most dramatic transitions at national and global levels. Fueled by a convergence of media, telecommunications and computer industries, the communication landscape has come to define not our media exposure patterns and habits, but the form and substance of the content we consume. Conventional media institutions remain important forces bearing on our daily communication experiences; but the emerging online media as enabled by the World Wide Web and convergence trends seem to have the most enduring impact on us as individuals and groups. New media have superior interactivity, more convenient accessibility, greater reach, and wider multimedia features than their conventional counterparts. In significant ways, new media, including social media, have not only been empowering for private individuals and groups long marginalized by media institutions, but they have also come to re-define our view of mass communication as a unidirectional process of information.

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