Terrorists, Victims, and Society: Psychological Perspectives on Terrorism and Its Consequences

By Andrew Silke | Go to book overview
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CHAPTER 9
Victims of Terrorism
and the Media

BETTY PFEFFERBAUM
University of Oklahoma College of Medicine


INTRODUCTION

On September 11, 2001 the attention of the world was riveted to news of a carefully orchestrated attack on the US and the Western world. Injured and alarmed victims ran for their lives through dense clouds of smoke and debris, jumped to their deaths from the highest floors of the World Trade Center, and used mobile phones to contact family members before dying in flames as the aircraft in which they were travelling crashed into the Pentagon and the countryside of Pennsylvania. The exact death toll may never be known but thousands were injured, killed or missing. Citizens from around 80 countries were among the victims. Massive property destruction occurred at the Pentagon, the centre of US military command, and at the World Trade Center, a symbol of the world's financial markets. The government scrambled to establish security both on the ground and in the air. A greatly shaken nation and world watched in horror as the media covered the events in graphic detail and then broadcast them again and again.

The goal of terrorism, evident in the word itself, is measured not only in the death and injury of direct victims, the sorrow and grief of their loved ones, the wreckage of property and the disruption of government, commerce and travel; it includes as well the fear and intimidation that accompany a new way of life. The media have a central role in realising this goal.

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