Terrorism and the Media: A Symbiotic Relationship

By John W. Whitehead

Article Reprint

The success of a terrorist operation depends almost entirely on the amount of publicity it receives.”—Walter Laqueur, Terrorism (1977)

Just imagine that you’re a terrorist with limited funds and you want to wreak havoc. You only have a few bombs, but you want your message broadcast to the world. How do you get the best bang for your buck? The answer is simple: turn the media into broadcasters for your acts of terrorism. (Rest assured, the politicians will also do their part to make the most of the moment and escalate a legitimate crisis into a full-blown political drama.)

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