Essay on the Role of Media in the War Against Terrorism

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Middlebury College
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Media plays a huge role in the war on terror. Its role in covering terror activities in the last decade has been instrumental in many ways. It has hugely contributed in disclosing to the people the real nature of war and the people involved in the fight. It has portrayed to the people the events of the war, terror attacks, causalities of the horrors and hidden details that would be entirely off the radar of people. This helps people in analyzing the events to determine their real enemies or the root causes of the war or attacks. For instance, media played an important role in enlightening the people of Afghanistan of who their real enemies are and the people who helped them in the war. The reports and analysis of the media about the situation in Afghanistan helped the citizens of the country to understand that they were hugely affected by the activities of the Taliban (Lewis, 2005). According to the report, the people of Afghanistan were victims of the war as a whole despite their non-commitment to the war. Innocent civilians died in the fight between Taliban and the US army. The Taliban has tarnished the image of Afghanistan as an extremist nation that has no respect for democracy and moderation. Despite the vast contribution of the media in combating terrorism, it has also faulted majorly in exposing the truth as a whole. The press does not usually present the facts as a whole resulting to a misunderstanding between different parties involved in the fight. The war of media against terrorism is not in its earnest. Press can either misrepresent the two groups to the conflict, either after being compromised or when serving their vested interests. For instance, the Middle East is still paying a hefty price for property and life after the media reported non-existent weapons of mass destruction in Iraq (Rohner and Frey, 2007).

The media and terrorism have a symbiotic relationship based on the recent history that has provided plenty of examples of the mutually beneficial relationship between the media and terrorist organizations. According to Nacos (2006), some remarkable terrorist attacks in history have shown that architects of terrorism use the media in enhancing their operational efficiency and in gathering information, recruitment and when they are spreading propaganda and raising funds for their operations (White, 2017). The goals of the perpetrators and the media regardless of the gravity of the attack. These objectives are attention, recognition and sometimes a degree of respect and legitimacy in their different publics. The media benefits from this relationship by receiving the attention of the public that is very useful for its existence. It also gains from record sales and the vast audience that is mainly attracted by its doctored headlines. The terrorists require media to cover their activities for them to have an effect and the press alternatively has to report those operations in such a way that they benefit from the public desire of yearning for more information about such kind of news. Hence, it is fair to argue that the relationship between terrorism and media is symbiotic.


Lewis, J. (2005). Language wars: The role of media and culture in global terror and politicalviolence. Pluto Press.

Nacos, B. L. (2006, August). Terrorism/counterterrorism and media in the age of global communication. In United Nations University Global Seminar Second Shimame-Yamaguchi Session, TerrorismA Global Challenge.

Rohner, D., & Frey, B. S. (2007). Blood and ink! The common-interest-game between terroristsand the media. Public Choice, 133(1), 129-145.

White, J. R. (2017). Terrorism and homeland security.

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