TV News Reports Must Not Give Terror Room to Breathe
Today, even the world’s most developed countries are under the threat of terror. The most concrete example of this is France. This year, troops entered Paris for the first time since the Second World War. The stationing of 1,080 soldiers around the Eiffel Tower, in response to Paris terror attacks and against another potential attack, reveals the extent of this threat. However, even these precautions weren’t enough and new terrorist acts were encountered in the city centre.
Fascist and extreme-right movements have been on the rise as of late in Europe, and attacks on migrants, and particularly Muslims, have increased. The tensions between Russians and Chechens are unending. Fighting dating back decades persists in Africa and the Middle East. On the other hand the PKK, which claims to have halted its terrorist activities up in the mountains, continues with massacres in Turkish cities.
Various theories aimed at eradicating terrorism have been proposed over the years and various methods have been tried. Not only has none borne fruit, acts of terror have actually increased.
The clearest example of this was the killing of Osama Bin Laden. Did his death put an end to al-Qaeda? No.
Terrorist organisations wish to intimidate innocent people into loyalty to them in order to achieve control over society; they perform the most ruthless and bloodthirsty acts to that end. In perpetrating these acts, they seek to keep their own supporters’ morale high and to give them the impression that they are strong and victory is at hand. We can clearly see this in Turkey in the activities of the terrorist PKK.
Terrorist organisations typically do careful planning before their atrocities. The attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon on September 11, the attacks on the London Underground, the train attack in Spain, the theatre bombing in Russia, the attacks in France and all the atrocities perpetrated by the PKK in Turkey were all the result of careful planning. The cold-blooded professional terrorists in the latest Paris attack laid bare this truth.
Almost all terrorist groups make active use of the media for publicity purposes. These groups are therefore quite keen for the anarchy and corruption they create to receive wide coverage in the media. In the view of terrorist organisations, the supposed success of their actions is directly proportional to their coverage in the media.
For example, when an action is repeated on TV many times over and is widely covered in social media, the multiplier effect is as if it had been committed hundreds of times over.
For this reason, one of the most important responsibilities in the fight against terror falls on the media. In its reports, the media must not directly - or indirectly - support terrorist organisations and must not allow them room to grow.
How and to what extent the media should cover acts of terror is an important subject of debate across the world. As a matter of fact, one of the main reasons why even the most advanced, powerful and modern countries have failed to put an end to terror is that the media feeds terror through thoughtless and hysterically insensible coverage. As a result of such coverage, the horror of terrorism is able to spread rapidly.
There is no doubt that the media has a duty to approach a news story in an objective manner but they must be even more cautious when it comes to terrorism: Human life must be held above all other values, and the media must be careful not to become part of this savagery by unwittingly disseminating terrorist propaganda in their typically sensationalist manner. In its coverage of acts of terror, the media must not be guided by ratings and competition.
For example, the American media after the September 11 attacks and the British media after the London Underground attack behaved in quite a circumspect fashion in their coverage. Even in the recent incidents in Ferguson, Missouri, the U.S. media has shown very little of the violence that took place. However, the global media covered all the details of the Paris attack for day upon day without let-up.
Care must be taken in news coverage not to broadcast close-ups of slaughter or anything that might create public panic and fear. Great circumspection is needed when making programs with the people concerned, even if they are politicians, and no statements that might be perceived as the propaganda of terrorist organisations must be allowed. No impression must be given, albeit unwillingly, that might suggest that a terror organisation is strong and influential.
The media is one of the most important weapons in the war against terror. It is very important for states to educate the accessible public through media. The powerful influence of the media over the public should be directed towards raising public awareness against terrorism. In the same way that terrorist organisations are always trying to impose their ideologies on people in the regions they seek to control, states must also constantly raise public awareness against terrorism through the media and ensure that programs that provide the intellectual basis for this are made. One way of doing this is to broadcast regular scientific criticisms of the bloodthirsty accounts of terrorist groups.
It must not be forgotten that terror cannot be defeated solely through arms and politics. What will really put an end to terror is to conduct intellectual studies that will undermine its intellectual infrastructure.