Terrorism, Coverage of

Terrorism generally refers to violence or threatened violence by nonstate actors against civilians to achieve a political or social objective. However, it is also a form of political communication—albeit a violent, public message—since publicity, transmitted by media outlets, is in fact part of its purpose, unlike most other crimes that attempt to avoid it.

The very nature of these events makes them irresistibly newsworthy. They are significant, exciting, dramatic, controversial, and emotional, all key ingredients for major news stories. Furthermore, the perpetrators of these acts recognize their attractiveness to the media. Media coverage helps create the “propaganda of the deed,” as 19th-century Italian revolutionary Carlo Pisacane put it. A number of observers of the media scene believe terrorism has a symbiotic relationship with the media ...

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