Our Media -The Greatest Advertising Agency for Terrorism

January 6, 2015 OPINION/NEWS




Hira Azhar

The term ‘Terrorism’ is no longer alien to us as, following the Twin Towers attack on September 11, 2001, this beautiful world has witnessed numerous gruesome incidents of terrorism, be they massive explosions, bombings or trivial suicide attacks.

Every terrorist attack whether magnificent or trivial leaves a deep rooted impact in the minds and hearts of the masses and every fragment of society feels equally responsible for combating this deadly menace of terrorism. Due to the rapid growing terrorist attacks in various parts of the world, every section of society is trying its best to curb this peril; however during past few decades, the mass media has emerged as one of the greatest institutions of society to make people aware of this fatal pest and to eliminate terrorism from the world. But the question arises ‘Is our media efficient enough to cope with the menace of terrorism or is it just acting as a vital tool of manipulation by the atrocious terrorists’?


As Joss Whedon said,

“The news isn’t there to tell you what happened. It’s there to tell you what it wants you to hear or what it thinks you want to hear.”


Similarly, the news about terrorist attacks on media isn’t there to inform you about the precautions to save yourself from this deadly incident or to sympathize with the victims; it is there to advertise the so called brilliant work done by terrorists. If you ever switch on your television sets to view the reporting of a recent terrorist incident anywhere in the world, you will immediately notice that the coverage done on such brutal incidents will deliberately focus on the crying and mourning people along with the bleeding faces of victims to gather maximum sympathy from the viewers. Then to add to the spice, the interviews of prominent political personalities sympathizing with the victims and awarding cash prizes to the deceased families are shown instead of suggesting any practical measures to prevent these horrible incidents in future. Believe me; our media is extremely proud of its efficiency in covering such events which is evidently visible from the speeches of anchors and newscasters shouting at the top of their voices that this news is first on-aired on their channel. It is not the case with electronic media only but our social media is also very swift and proficient in this regard. The images, especially video images, of bombed buildings, bloody corpses and frightened hostages posted in every site of social media, be it Facebook or Twitter by the self acclaimed vigilantes are much more memorable than print or audio reports of the same incidents as it is an old notion,


“A picture is worth a thousand words.”


After every terrorist incident, we see or hear a terrorist organization claiming to be responsible for it and the media shows their interviews and confessions with such eagerness as they have made our nation proud, quite ignorant of the fact that committing and claiming responsibility for a terrorist attack is one of the most successful ways to obtain free worldwide publicity for one’s cause. As a report in Daily Times writes,


“The media gives the twisted version of celebrity status to these individuals. Broadcasting their names and pictures across the screen and giving them credit for these heinous acts serves only to inflate warped egos.”


Our recent history, specifically the past decade, has provided us with numerous examples of the mutually beneficial relationship between terrorist organizations and the media. Our media is fascinated by the savage terrorist attacks not only because it is its foremost responsibility to cover and report on any major event but also because the massive and fanciful coverage of terrorism attracts large scale attention by the viewers all around the globe. The modern terrorists are quite aware of this fact so they have picked up this trend to attract massive public attention by making their poor innocent victims to suffer terribly and showing their horrible immense sufferings live on all television channels. Terrorists have now become “media competent” by knowing and applying the principles of attracting media attention in most of their heinous atrocities. Not only do they now possess all the essential technical equipment such as video cameras and internet facilities, they also usually know how to time and create those images which can guarantee a maximum impact through the media. As Brigitte Nacos said,


“As some remarkable terrorist attacks in history indicate, whether it is in the United States (US), Europe, or the Middle East, it is by and large the case that the architects of terrorism exploit the media for the benefit of their operational efficiency, information gathering, recruitment, fund raising, and propaganda schemes.”


It is an irrefutable fact that terrorism is an attractive boon for media coverage because the best way to increase viewers’ ratings and make immense profits is to cover a horrible terrorist incident as the elements of drama, danger, blood, human tragedy, miracle stories, heroes, shocking footage and extreme action found together in terrorism always make it appealing and worth watching for the action and entertainment fanatics all across the world.

The problem at hand does not lie in why the media covers terrorism, but lies in how the media covers terrorism. It often happens that the media covers terrorist incidents by writing sensation seeking stories, especially on who is responsible for this gruesome act, repeating the same images over and over again. In addition, the media also plays a vital role in traumatizing the audience by exaggerating the threats showing nonstop footage of violent scenes in order to gain their maximum sympathies.

It is time the media should hold the government up for scrutiny, rather than only mournfully asking ‘Who is to be blamed for this terrible incident?’ The best way to avoid this entire nuisance is that the media should never let its forum be used for exploitation by the brutal terrorists. It should play its best role in covering such incidents properly and along with identifying the root cause, our media should also make the viewers aware of the appropriate solutions instead of just presenting a mere fanciful show of these terrorist attacks. If these steps are followed properly, no doubt that not only the image of media can be improved globally but also these terrorist attacks can be lessened in a short span of time.





Hira Azhar

Hira is a freelance Writer and Poet from Rawalpindi, Pakistan.






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