Framing Terrorism: The News Media, the Government, and the Public

Framing Terrorism: The News Media, the Government, and the Public

Framing Terrorism: The News Media, the Government, and the Public

Framing Terrorism: The News Media, the Government, and the Public

Synopsis

Terrorism now dominates the headlines of all the networks from New York to London, and Rome to Moscow and is spreading from Al Jazeera in Qatar to Islamabad, Riyadh, Baghdad, and Kabul. The contributors of this new work begin by focusing on how governments, security forces, and terrorist groups seek to manipulate the news, including the legal and normative issues of formal and informal government censorship and curbs on freedom of the press. The contributors compare coverage of 9/11 to coverage of other incidents of terrorist violence, including Israel-Palestine and Northern Ireland. They then focus upon how journalists construct the news and how the public responds to news coverage - including 'rallying-around-the-flag', public attention and comprehension of terrorist events, and the public's response to issues of civil liberties vs. security.

Excerpt

The events of 9/11 cast such a shadow over America that, in their immediate aftermath, we shared with people viewing or reading about these events elsewhere the shock of the attack, the sorrow for the victims and their families, dismay for the death and destruction, and anxiety about the implications for world affairs. Time, however, has given us all the opportunity to reflect upon the meaning of these events. As scholars of political communications, putting these events in a broader perspective requires us to address a series of questions surrounding how terrorism is commonly depicted by journalists covering terrorism in the U. S., and elsewhere, such as the Middle East, Northern Ireland, or Africa. In particular, how are interpretative frames about terrorism generated and to what extent are they reinforced by the news media? Do common news frames shape patterns of media coverage of terrorism in different contexts and cultures, including the United States, the Middle East, and Africa? Do conventional news frames about terrorism have the power, as many assume, to affect public opinion, including perceptions of risk and security in America? These are the core issues explored in this book.

The editors of this volume owe debts to many friends and colleagues. The idea for the book developed from a colloquium, “Restless Searchlight: Terrorism, The Media, And Public Life” held at the John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, in August 2002. The meeting was co-sponsored by the Political Communication section of the American Political Science Association and the Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy and was offered as a Short Course by the American Political Science Association. We are most grateful to all these organizations, especially the support of Darrell West, Steve Livingstone, Alex Jones, and Nancy Palmer and the invaluable assistance of Eric Lockwood and Edith Holway for attending to the practical arrangements for the conference. We would like to thank Dean Joseph S. Nye, Jr. of the John F. Kennedy School, who shared our enthusiasm and gave the conference keynote address.

We would particularly like to thank the panel discussants, chairs, and colleagues at this meeting for providing many critical suggestions and thoughtful feedback to the authors. Among those who participated, we would like to acknowledge the contributions of Sean Aday, Ted Brader, Paul Brewer, Robin Brown, Erik Bucy, Karen Callaghan, Cynthia Coleman-Sillars, Darren W. Davis, Mansour el-Kikhia, Timothy J. Fackler, David P. Fan, Richard Flickinger, Nathalie J. Frensley, Tracey Gladstone-Sovell, Doris A. Graber, Kim Gross, Amy E. Jasperson, Alex Jones, Christopher Kelley, Michael A. Krasner . . .

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