Monday, September 12, 2005

Terrorism And The Media

Over the weekend, I saw video and text of a second set of ravings believed to be from Adam Gadahn, an American-born jihadist. He made threats against Los Angeles and Melbourne. My first thought was to question whether this was really newsworthy. We really don't know if this is a legitimate threat or the words of an unstable person (of course the two are not mutually exclusive). Should the media be giving so much attention to people like this? Doesn't the media serve the terrorists' purposes by making them larger than life?

Austin Bay:
Terrorists can be a very small group of people or a politically weak organization. What makes the small and anonymous appear powerful and strong? In the 21st century, intense media coverage magnifies the terrorists’ capabilities. This suggests that winning the global war against Islamist terror ultimately means accomplishing two things: denying the terrorists’ weapons of mass destruction and curbing what is currently Al Qaeda’s greatest strategic capability: media magnification and occasional media enhancement of its bombing campaigns and political theatrics.