Does media coverage simply help publicize terrorists' ideas?Some scholars argue that too often the media helps promote terrorists' agenda. Others, however, disagree. What is your own position on...

Does media coverage simply help publicize terrorists' ideas?

Some scholars argue that too often the media helps promote terrorists' agenda. Others, however, disagree. What is your own position on the media's role and impact in covering terrorist cases?

Expert Answers
shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Media coverage of major events tends to be very biased. Terrorist attacks are no exception. It is definitely true that media coverage helps promote the agendas of terrorist groups. They don't really care if the coverage paints them in a negative light, just getting the coverage at all is their goal.

We must keep in mind that terrorists are terrorists because they cannot accomplish their political goals through conventional and legal means. The only way they get media coverage is by taking extreme action that is certain to make it on the news.

With that said, if the major networks just decided to stop reporting on terrorist activity, we'd have an interesting situation. It's not like the networks don't decide for themselves what to cover anyway. Plenty of people die in the world for unjust reasons without any media coverage at all.

However, it would be unacceptable for a government to actually ban media coverage of terrorist activities. All that would do would encourage people to get the news out through other means (which isn't too hard to do anymore) and make us look like the bad guys and the terrorists look persecuted.

wannam eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I think either side could be true.  However, there are usually more people against terrorism than for it.  I think media coverage can rally a population against terrorism just as it can encourage other terrorist.  A great example can be found in the airline industry.  Before 911, most passengers would not jump in to assist or try to subdue an incident on an aircraft.  Now, it is common for passengers to assist airline officials in subduing an unruly passenger or employee.  I think media coverage can put citizens on alert and make terrorist attacks harder to accomplish as well.  

belarafon eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The amount of promotion caused to a terrorist cause by media coverage pales in comparison to the truth and knowledge that we gain by having free and open reporting. It is far better to have full and public investigation into attacks than to have it concealed behind censorship. There is something to be said for the "ignore" factor -- witness its effect on Internet trolls: responding in any way is validation. However, with terrorism, I don't think media coverage boosts their cause as much as their ideology does, and I'd rather have an informed public regardless.

rrteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I agree wholeheartedly with the sentiments in Post 2. Terrorists don't emerge from nothing, and part of our response to their actions ought to be to try to eliminate the conditions that helped to spawn the terror movements. Media coverage can help us understand and help us form opinions about what policies are necessary going forward. We ought to have faith that our institutions can withstand public statements of the ideologies of terror groups.

litteacher8 eNotes educator| Certified Educator


To a certain extent, the media does glorify terrorists. It definitely gets their activities out there, and therefore gets the message out there. No media outlet is going to report on terrorist activity without giving as much information on the group and their ideals as possible, to make the story juicer. That is definitely a recruiting tool.

Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There is a difference between reporting unbiased information without intent to influence or persuade and sensationalizing dramatized representations of events. It is the latter style that produces adverse effects, turning knowledge to popularized living myth. While reporting is and always has been critically important, it is doubtful that American media sources could justify a claim of unbiased, undramatized, unsensationalized reporting.

pohnpei397 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Even if media coverage allows the terrorists to have their views presented to the whole world, it is necessary.  It is important for Americans to know what the terrorists say they believe.  It can help us, as citizens, know what we think our government should do about the terrorists.  If we did not know why Al Qaeda conducted the 9/11 attacks, we would have no way of knowing what sorts of government actions we should support. 

stolperia eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Media coverage may attempt to help the public understand why the terrorists committed a given act, which is important for anyone trying to understand what happened or thinking about how to address the concerns to prevent future incidents. While this may lead to some individuals deciding to adopt the philosophy of the terrorist group, the information is needed by the general public. There is no "simply" about it.