James Feldkamp | Terrorism and Media as Partners?
The media plays a vital role in how people communicate today. The speed of how information reaches out to communities is one of the many advantages of media. However, since all manner of groups and communities use it as a tool, negative overtones can’t be avoided. One of these inferences is that the media is being used – willingly or unwittingly – as propaganda tool by terrorist organizations.
Media as a business
While the major purpose of the media is a noble one – to broadcast the truth – it has evolved into a big business, and this hinders its original objective. Today, the industry focuses more on sensational news and information to gather a large market and keep their business on top. This shift of focus allows terror organizations to use the media as a “partner” in spreading their influence.
International tool to broadcast terror
In using the media, terrorist organizations like radical “freedom fighters” and jihadist groups achieve their aim of promoting fear and violence across borders, not just in their local areas. Terror groups broadcast intentions and threats to project an image of power over the local population. Meanwhile, with media having an international reach, these groups also announce that their brand of terror is widespread, and can instigate violence anywhere, anytime. Lastly, broadcasting threats and violence also targets the authorities, as it highlights the glaring lack of success to curb terrorism.
Adapting propaganda machine
With the media having widespread reach, and with many outlets, terrorists find it easy to have an outlet in spreading their cause. Aside from traditional media, the Internet is now playing a huge part in “promoting” international terrorism, with groups having their own channels to spout their propaganda. Meanwhile, even if social media entities put up stringent measures to try and censor these broadcasts, subscribers can still find hundreds, if not thousands, of accounts online that spread terror propaganda.
An unwitting partner
With the media needing sensational news, some of their broadcasts dwell on shocking reports like tragedies and disasters. Terrorists use this need to their advantage, since it dovetails with their methods. For example, while the 9/11 and Boston Marathon attacks galvanized and united the western nations, media entities also highlighted the vulnerability of societies against terror attacks. Terror groups achieved their fundamental purpose, instilling fear, with the unwitting participation of the media.
At the end, it cannot be discounted that there are some media organizations with radical leanings and sympathy towards terror groups. As a whole though, with other factors involved, most in the industry are only unwitting associates for terrorists.