The Us/Them Binary: An Analysis of Local Media's Framing of Local Terrorists
Abstract (Summary)The media is a vital player in the terrorist cycle since the communication of information can have tremendous influence on reactions to terrorist events. Typically, when doing research on terrorism and the media, researchers draw samples from large, national media organizations and recently, the focus has been on the media's presentation of 9/11 and other large, very publicized terrorist events. In contrast, since 9/11, scholars have not paid as much attention to smaller terrorism cases, especially concerning how they were represented in their respective local media outlets. It is important to explore the many communicative paths of terrorism discourse, not just the most prominent. The present study addresses this neglected area of research by analyzing coverage of terrorism in the local context. The ethnocentric distinction between the “us” and “them” binary of terrorism is examined by studying how two local news sources present incidents of terrorist-related activities where the accused is somehow identified with the local community. My hypothesis is that when the accused is located close to home, assumptions about terrorism – the identity of terrorists, the reasons given for terrorism – are blurred. This research found that being from the community does affect the coverage of the events and the treatment of the accused. However, the coverage and treatment is dependant on the social distance of the accused from the elite. The variables of religion, citizenship, class, and ethnicity influence the attribution of community membership, the use of the terrorist label, and the ways the media contextualizes and explores the reasons for the terrorist event.
School Location:USA - Ohio
Source Type:Master's Thesis
Keywords:terrorism news john walker lindh media race
Date of Publication:01/01/2007