Unfortunately, some terrorist organizations use the news media to gain recognition for their groups causes and goals. Most of the time, the media will serve as force to gain citizen support for the government's actions against a terrorist movement. The only problem with having the freedom of press that the United States enjoys is that everyone has a voice. When it comes down to an American killing an American, the media is not allied with the terrorist. Americans do not like to see fellow citizens die at the hands of a terrorist, especially by an American terrorist.
Timothy McVeigh, probably unknowingly, helped in decreasing the number of American terrorist. McVeigh's act, bombing the Murrah building in Oklahoma City, was seen as so repulsive that many law-abiding people attracted to militias simply walked away. The majority of Americans didn't want to be associated with anything like the killing of 168 Americans, even though McVeigh had only attended a few militia meetings. (Mahan & Griset, p. 225) The media coverage for the bombing in 1995 gave the American public the education needed to assess what was going on in the militant organizations across the United States.
No one truly believes that the media plan or suggest terrorist attacks to groups or individuals. But the action of the media has been scrutinized intensely in recent years to determine whether media coverage of terrorist events caused terrorists to choose one particular choice of action over another. (Combs, p. 179) The education of American citizens is an invaluable tool that is channeled through the media for the benefit of all citizens. With the help of the media, the people get all of the facts and are able to form their own opinion about what is going on, who is responsible for events, and how future events can be avoided.
The media and the government have common interests in seeing that the media are not manipulated into promoting the cause of terrorism or its methods On the other hand, neither the media or policymakers want to see terrorism, or counter terrorism, eroding constitutional freedoms including that of the press--one of the pillars of democratic societies. (Perl) In conclusion if terrorists seek media attention and are given after an attack, their act will be seen as successful so, by not overruling other ‘real news’ media, have the ability to affect the scale of an attack.
With today’s worldwide Internet accessibility to anyone at anytime the support and especially funding of terrorism acts may increase. But, however, the ‘CNN affect’ in other words may increase the number of casualties from a terrorist attack if international press exaggerating the hatred towards terrorism and ‘war on terror’. Out of this it is clear that media as the ‘voice of the people’ encourages the scale of the terrorist attack but not the actual terrorist attack in itself.
Combs, C. (2010). Terrorism in the Twenty-First Century ( 6th Ed.), Charlotte, NC.: Pearson
Mahan, S. & Griset, P. (2008). Terrorism in Perspective ( 2nd Ed.), Thousand Oaks, California: Sage Publications.
Perl, R. (1997). Terrorism, The Media, and the Government:
Perspectives, Trends, and Options for Policymakers Retrieved Febraury 25, 2011 from http://www.fas.org/irp/crs/crs-terror.htm.