Terrorism and the Intuitive Journalistic Narrative

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Abstract

The Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris and the use of the Internet by the so-called
Islamic State have yet again raised questions about Western media coverage of terrorist acts. This article reviews recent literature and investigates afresh why terrorist attacks tend to dominate the news agenda. It argues that governments, security forces as well as media organizations need to be aware that a particular mode of storytelling has come to rule journalistic practices. This mode is termed intuitive journalistic narrative here. By investigating historic cases of videos depicting hostages, it is shown how this intuitive narrative contributes to magnifying terrorist acts. The article also shows that media organizations realise this when they find the time to reflect on their practices. Yet lessons learned from previous coverage tend to be easily forgotten when journalists face breaking news situations. Media as well as governments’ public affairs officials need to recognize this in their communication activities in crisis situation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)75
Number of pages87
JournalDefence Review
Volume143
Issue numberSpecial Issue
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2015

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