Sunday, 11 December 2016

Terrorism and Journalism

Diagram 1: An aid worker, David Haines' beheading video by ISIS is reported on CNN news (Botelho, 2014). The video was posted on website of the terror group and then 
played on broadcast station.

Journalism being used by terrorists

In anime series Death Note, the killer Kira sent an audio tape to TV station and commanded them to broadcast it to the whole country. Investigator L stopped them due to worry of Kira will gain public support by publishing it, but director of TV station was happy to received such record tapes, as it can be their exclusive report to gain more attention from public compared to other TV stations.

The scenario is similar to media today that reporting the news of terrorists. With or without intention, even though it is their job and responsibility to report current happenings, it help terrorists in spreading ideology and message, eventually causes fear across global, and it was the terrorists' objective (Nacos, 2015).

There is say that death and blood is the elements that make news exciting and interesting. Its impact is so huge, that is why Death of Marat and The Vulture and the Little Girl in previous post are so symbolic and memorable to public. At first, death and destruction cannot be avoided in reporting on terrorism because it is exactly what they are doing, therefore, is there any method to carry out journalists' responsibilities to report the truth, yet it will not help to achieve terrorists' objective?

There comes the article of The Media Must Stop Encouraging Terrorists, Marty Rudoy called media to filter the words of terrorists that might mislead people of their real intention before publishing it. For example, reveal the polished words use of terrorists on news article. Remove the unnecessary elements from news report which terrorist wants public to see it, such as bloody beheading videos. When readers want to know it, they can search it online, do not make thing too easy for terrorists (Rudoy, 2016).

Is there any guidelines for reporters in dealing with terrorism?

There are many guidelines on terrorism according to different institute of editorial or broadcasting. The rules including report quickly and full of responsibility. Reporters are require to be accurate and careful in using sensitive words, do not display a wrong image that all Muslims are terrorists. They need to be rational in sensational coverage and be neutral towards terrorism, because the graphics or language used in headlines have huge impact on public especially after a disaster.

Journalist's guidelines to refer:

1. Charlie Beckett. Fanning the Flames: Reporting on Terror in a Networked World. Link
2. Society of Professional Journalists. Guidelines for Countering Racial, Ethnic and Religious Profiling. Link
3. Canadian Journal of Communication. Media Coverage of Acts of Terrorism: Troubling Episodes and Suggested Guidelines. Link
4. BBC. Terrorism: Language when Reporting Terrorism. Link

Although reporting the acts of terror is helping them to spread the fear and message, but we cannot stop telling world the truth that there is immorality happening on another side of earth. We have to know it but do not fall into terrorists' trap of hate.

Researcher of relationship between media and terrorism

Brigitte L. Nacos
Dr. Nacos is an expert on mass media, public opinion, and decision-making as well as on terrorism and counterterrorism. Key concept "marriage of media and terrorist" from her published book Terrorism and Counterterrorism (2015) contributed to main idea of this post.

Self-reflection on work progress

I spent the first two weeks to explore introduction books on media studies and terrorism. The biggest result that I have gained is direction of thinking from the book More than Meet the Eyes. It provide a way to ask questions - how does it relate to media? how does the media incorporate to people's mind? My favourite quote from book is "what is absent is same important as what is present", it reminds me not to overlook the unseen thing and view a topic from different perspective.

Another book that I found is Dr. Mahathir's Terrorism and the Real Issues, it is a book that wrote from insight of a Muslim. As most of the resources found online are contributed by western researcher, an opinion from Muslim might provide a different view. "Only Muslim can heal Muslim" is a sentence that I found while exploring this topic today. We really need to stand on their shoes other than look at it from a rational outsider's perspective.

I have not really relate "controversy unfolded online" to "creative professional" yet, topic on terrorism and social media will be discussed on coming posts. I will analyse strategy of  ISIS and what makes people attracted to join it.


Beckett, C. (2016) Fanning the Flames: Reporting on Terror in a Networked World. Columbia Journalism Review. [Online] Available at:  (Accessed on 12 December 2016)

BBC (n.d.) Terrorism: Language when Reporting Terrorism. [Online] Available at: (Accessed on 12 December 2016)

Botelho, G. (2014) ISIS executes British aid worker David Haines; Cameron vows justice. CNN. (Accessed on 12 December 2016)

Canadian Journal of Communication. (n.d.) Media Coverage of Acts of Terrorism: Troubling Episodes and Suggested Guidelines. [Online] Available at:  (Accessed on 12 December 2016)

Nacos, B.L. (2015) Terrorism and Counterterrorism. New York: Routledge.

Rudoy, M. (2016) The Media Must Stop Encouraging Terrorists. The Huffington Post. [Online] Available at: (Accessed on 12 December 2016)

Society of Professional Journalists. (n.d.) Guidelines for Countering Racial, Ethnic and Religious Profiling. [Online] Available at: (Accessed on 12 December 2016)

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