JOHN ENTINGH - 4 JANUARY 2011
Alternative media is quickly becoming the primary source for news worldwide, and thus an annexation of the Fourth Estate. Americans and citizens of other developed countries view “mainstream media” as very different from how citizens of the many under-developed countries view westernized mainstream media. Americans typically cling to every word broadcast on the network evening news, yet these same words draw ire and rebuke from underdeveloped countries as capitalist propaganda. However, even Americans, and westerners on a whole, are slowly shifting to questioning the verity of information gleaned from mainstream media and turning to alternative sources of information such as the Internet, social media, and yes, even Arab media for news. Mainstream media is becoming more and more commonly referred to as “corporate media,” (Zinn). The biggest problem in America may be a simple human fallacy of self-awareness. Americans view themselves as the knights in shining armor on a crusade to save a world that is unable to fend for itself, a view mainstream media strongly supports. In reality, it boils down to cultural relativism where Americans honestly believe their flavor of democracy is the best form, and their way of achieving such is the only way (i.e., Iraq). This worldview is not only protected by how mainstream media covers terrorist events, but is actually expanded. As stated by Harold Zinn: "The media are a pitiful lot. They don't give us any history, they don't give us any analysis, they don't tell us anything. They don't raise the most basic questions..." (The World Traveler
It is this exact lack of self-awareness that frustrates terror groups into action against the countries like the United States, whose presence they view as dangerous, and furthered by the “skillful use of media [which] has also created misconceptions about how terrorism works,” (Seib and Janbek, preface, p.x).The emerging trend is that since mainstream media has evolved into more infotainment than objective news (Nacos), alternative news sources are booming even given the fact that there is comparabely less profit (Olmstead, Mitchell and Rosenstiel). Companies one would have never imagined having an interest in news, such as Yahoo, are now using a broad Internet base to reach untolled millions (Helft). It is little wonder that on-line social media has also emerged as not only a source of news for millions in the world, but as a news gathering tool where “37% have contributed to news creation, commented on news or shared it via social media sites such as Facebook or Twitter,” (Schroeder). This interactive approach to gathering and reporting news via the Internet is what has allowed Al Jazeera English to gain a hefty global market share with its “Your Media” contribution page that allows anyone in the world with Internet to have participative media access (Al Jazeera English). One might reasonably ask if open media access will reduce future terrorist acts since getting their message out seems to be a motivating factor.
Other advantages of the trend toward alternative news sources are very profound. The masses are now getting the perspective of the actual people in and around events in distant areas of the world that historically were only gained through the networks and their reporters' interpertations and biases. The current openess of alternative media provides rich insight into the context of foriegn cultures and gives the public a realistic look into the environments from which political groups arise within these cultures.The disadvantages to alternative media are both obvious and obscure. The obvious disadvantage is that anyone can log onto a social media outlet or Al Jazeera’s “Your Media” and put out any type of twisted information they choose and there is little time for edits before the message goes viral or gets locked into the ethereal world of the web. Terror groups are well known for using this facet to their advantage in recruiting and inciting unrest (Anwar Awlaki, who was very proficient at internet recruiting, is a clear example). Beyond terror groups, the recent successes of the Arab Spring turned largely upon the Fourth Estates’ annexation of alternative media where social network sites were ostensibly used to organize the ousting of oppresive regimes.
The not so obvious disadvantges, as Zinn points out, are the subtle messages of propaganda all sides use that confuse the real issues at hand. The recent political developments in Egypt evidence this perspective. Following the 2011 Egyptian revolution and fall of Hosni Mubarak, the Muslim Brotherhood was legalized by and through propaganda (Yezdani, 2011). The Brotherhood supported the constitutional referendum in March which was also supported by the Egyptian army and opposed by Egyptian liberals (El Rashidi, 2011). But then in April 2011 the Brotherhood launched a new party called the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP), which has fairly well taken over an emerging governent (Gahnnam, 2011). According to the Anti-Defamation League, several former Brotherhood officials from the organization's 15-member Guidance Council have assumed key roles within the new party, and have used their positions in the FJP to reiterate the Brotherhood's long-standing hostility toward Zionism and support for terrorist organizations that serve as obstacles to peace and stability in the Middle East (2011). All of these developments were made possible and then furthered through the opening provided by the initial use of social networking technology (alternative media).
Nacos (2007) explains that the growth in alternative media as a news source has been exploited by terror groups for many years, but today we see how American politicians have developed campaigns on Facebook and Twitter as well.
From a perusal of the alternative media campaigns in this election year can one reasonably shift through the rhetoric and propaganda and understand the underlying agendas, or is the voting public in a democracy to be taken in as the Egyptians were? We have experienced mainstream media failure to call attention to this and similar phenomena in agenda setting arguably out of the fear for a revenue loss as viewers may well go to that alternative source for future news. Regardless of anyone’s fears, alternative media is the nascent news source in our growing world of technology, and the Fourth Estate has indeed annexed a valuable resource.
U.S. Politics facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/uspolitics
REFERENCES Al Jazeera English. (n.d.). Your Media: Submit Your Contribution.
Retrieved October 29, 2011, from Al Jazeera English: http://yourmedia.aljazeera.net/
Anti-Defamation League (2011). Brotherhood of Hate: Muslim Brotherhood's Hatred for Jews and Israel Flourishes in "New" Egypt. Accessed January 3, 2011 from: http://www.adl.org/main_International_Affairs/muslim_brotherhood.htm
El Rashidi, Yasmine, "Egypt: The Victorious Islamists", New York Review of Books, July 14, 2011
Ghannam, Angy (December 28, 2011) Islamists in Egypt's tourist spots win surprise support. BBC News. Accessed January 3, 2011 from: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-16348229
Helft, M. (2010, March 30). With Hirings, Yahoo Steps Up Its News Coverage. The New York Times
Yezdani, Ipek (2011).'shariah in Egypt is enough for us.' Muslim Brotherhood leader say. Hürriyet Daily News.
Accessed January 3, 2011 from: http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/default.aspx?pageid=438&n=8220shari8217a-law-in-egypt-is-enough-for-us8221-tells-a-muslim-brotherhood-leader-2011-05-23
Nacos, B. (2007). Mass-Mediated Terrorism: the Central Role of the Media in Terrorism and Counterterrorism
(2nd ed.). New York: Rowman & Littlefield.
Olmstead, K., Mitchell, A., & Rosenstiel, T. (2011). Online: Key Questions Facing Digital News .
Retrieved October 29, 2011, from Pew Research Center's Project for Excellence in Journalism; the State of the News Media 2011: http://stateofthemedia.org/2011/online-essay/
Schroeder, S. (2010, March 01). Social Networks Play a Major Role in How We Get News [Stats].
Retrieved October 29, 2011, from Mashable Social Media: http://mashable.com/2010/03/01/social-networks-source-news/
Seib, P., & Janbek, D. (2011). Global Terrorism and New Media.
New York: Routledge.
Zinn, H. (n.d.). Third World Traveler
. Retrieved October 29, 2011, from http://www.thirdworldtraveler.com/
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26 DECEMBER 2011 - Guest Writer Treston Wheat
There are many similarities among the different types of sub-state violence, which has led some to erroneously equate all of them. Fundamental differences exist between an insurgency and terrorism and other forms of violence. When people try to equate sub-state violence no matter its source, they strip their analysis of any meaning. This is ultimately like saying that premeditated murder is the same act as vehicular homicide and that these are the same as self-defense. It denudes any actual thought concerning the nature of force by saying they are identical. Although insurgency and terrorism are both politically motivated violence, they have different strategic choices and organizational structures that demonstrate how they are different political phenomena.
The most fundamental difference between insurgency and terrorism can be found in the definitions of the words. The definition of terrorism is politically motivated violence or the threat of violence against non-combatants by sub-state actors ; the definition of insurgency, on the other hand, is a “struggle between a nonruling group and the ruling authorities in which the nonruling group uses political resources and violence” and is a “protracted political-military activity” that uses irregular military forces. Long term objectives can appear similar between insurgents and terrorists, like al-Qaeda and the Taliban wanting Shariah law implemented in states. Yet, it is the second-tier and short term objectives of insurgents and terrorists that separate them. One must separate the teleological objectives from the immediate objectives of organizations. Terrorism’s objectives are, according to Louise Richardson, revenge, renown, and reaction. Take for instance the suicide bombings in London in 2005; the four attackers did not believe theirs actions would lead to the establishment of the Caliphate. Rather, they wanted to seek revenge for Britain’s action in the Middle East and the country’s support for the war there. Terrorists measure the success of their attacks by how much attention it receives. In addition, they received the renown they wanted. The terrorists sidelined the G-8 summit and became famous across the world. Although they did not achieve the reaction they wanted, i.e. retaliation to increase hatred of the West, a reaction was part of their immediate objectives. Finally, terrorists plan for their attacks to “have far-reaching psychological effects beyond the immediate victim(s) or object of the terrorist attack.” Terrorism wants to spread terror amongst the population. The terrorist’s objective is therefore more about scaring civil society and making themselves known.
Insurgents differ from terrorists by their own immediate objectives, which are military by nature rather than media or revenge prone. An insurgent’s tactics will look to wear the enemy down through constant attacks against the regular forces while acquiring weapons and support from the disenfranchised population. Eventually, the insurgency tries to establish its own regular forces and fight the opposing government on equal footing. Furthermore, the insurgency wishes to give public services to the public while diminishing the government’s ability to do so. Hezbollah does this consistently by offering access to water and schooling in Lebanon when the government is not able to do so. Also, insurgents want to mitigate international support for the opposition by increasing their legitimacy in the eyes of other states. The Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) and the Palestinian Authority have gained international support and even acquired representation in international organizations like the UN. Yet, they try to undermine Israel by constantly pointing towards supposed human rights abuses and other maladies. Insurgents’ immediate goals are specific military aims while terrorists try to create attention with their acts for political causes.
Strategic choices and targets by insurgents and terrorists also demonstrate how they differ from each other. The terrorist by definition attacks non-combatants; the insurgent attacks combatants. Some forms of violence have legitimacy and some have illegitimacy. The target of force determines whether or not the act is right, legitimate, or wrong, illegitimate. A quick survey of terrorist attacks shows that their ultimate targets are non-combatants rather than those that fight on the battlefield. Al-Qaeda chose to target the World Trade Centers as a way to assault people for specifically being American, not because they were soldiers on the battlefield. Hamas suicide bombers go on buses full of Israeli civilians to attack the population rather than going after members of the IDF. Aum Shinrikyo pumped sarin nerve gas in the Tokyo subway to hurt ordinary Japanese instead of attacking the military. The Red Brigade in Europe kidnapped and killed specific members of the government, not soldiers in the Italian military. In each of these cases the terrorist organization’s target was a non-combatant to draw attention to their cause because they were symbolic of their problem with the current order.
Contrast this with the insurgent that attacks the soldier on the battlefield and goes after military targets. The insurgency in Cuba that put Fidel Castro into power and Mao Zedong’s campaign against the Japanese give examples as to how these are military operations against regular forces. The point of an insurgency is to eventually gain enough strength to have a regular army strong enough to conquer the ruling authority’s regular army. This is why insurgencies use guerilla warfare and enact a protracted war. They must maintain enough time to gain the strength to fight the government. Batista’s government failed before Castro could create a standing army, but Castro attacked military strongholds and soldiers. Some might point out that insurgents generally only deal with the military, both domestic and foreign, and that is why they do not target civilians. The primary difference is that insurgents’ primary target are combatants as part of their overall strategic initiative. They cannot gain recruits if they continually assault the population they supposedly want to protect from the ruling authority. As mentioned before, one of the immediate objectives is to gain support and membership from the local population. In contrast, a terrorist has an audience and tries to bring attention to their cause and can indiscriminately attack the population. These two forms of violence have different targets because of their different objectives. Insurgents want to take control of the area and control the population; the terrorist wants revenge, renown, and a reaction to her action.
One of the difficulties with this analysis is that people have to determine the difference between a combatant and a non-combatant. The quintessential difference is that a combatant operates on the battlefield with an established uniform and weapon according to international standards. An example that seems to blur the line between combatant and non-combatant is Nidal Malik Hassan who attacked soldiers at Fort Hood. He must be considered a terrorist because the soldiers he attacked were not on the battlefield. Also, his immediate objectives follow that of a terrorist rather than an insurgent. Hassan supposedly believed that the “War on Terror” was a war against Islam and believed Muslims should not be in the military. His motivations appeared to follow revenge for America’s actions in the Middle East. He was not trying to gain followers to fight the military on equal ground. This case shows it is possible to determine whether violence is by an insurgent or a terrorist based on their targets and objectives.
Besides the targets and objectives of an organization, the organizational structure differentiates terrorists and insurgents. Terrorists operate either in cells or as individuals. There are a plethora of examples of individuals acting as “lone wolfs:” Eric Rudolph, Scott Roeder, Timothy McVeigh, Anders Behring Breivik, et al. More often, though, terrorists operate in cells. This is a more modern phenomenon, where in the past terrorists had a hierarchical structure. Terrorist organizations now employ “leaderless networks.” The Earth Liberation Front employed this strategy where they had several cells throughout the country that had no “chain of command” and are merely connected by their radical environmentalism. In comparison, an insurgent organization mirrors itself to a military. Mao Zedong envisioned a clear hierarchy and military structure. He believed that an insurgency need military commanders, political commissioners, officers, headquarters, chief of staffs, and divisions based on areas. There is a clear military structure, but the insurgent differs from a regular army by having mobile forces that can move agilely across the country and attack points of weakness. Terrorists operate in cells and as individuals; insurgents have to operate as a paramilitary organization with specific people in command so that they can achieve success.
Because of the difference between terrorism and insurgency the response by governments, counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency, have to be different. Although Bard O’Neill writes that all forms of sub-state violence are types of insurgency, even he explicates the need for divergent responses to dissimilar forms of violence. What he named conspiratorial and urban-warfare is synonymous to terrorism. The proper response for this kind of violence is intelligence gathering and police work rather than military operations. He offers the examples of Northern Ireland and Italy where terrorism decreased after the governments increased disciplined police forces. However, military force is not out of the question. Special operations against terrorists residing in other countries can help eliminate the organizations, as Israel has done several times. When a country engages an insurgency, the state must necessarily use alternate tactics. America could not have just used intelligence and police forces to bring down the Taliban government and fight the subsequent insurgency that occurred. The US had to send thousands of troops along with NATO to successfully fight off the Taliban led insurgents. Because of the varying nature of sub-state violence, understanding that terrorism and insurgency differ allows for governments to develop proper strategy to combat them.
Analysts need to differentiate between insurgents and terrorism because proper analysis leads to successful counterattacks. If one assumes that an insurgent is a terrorist, then they may try to arrest the offender rather than stop what will become a protracted conflict. If one assumes that a terrorist is an insurgent, then they may use military operations where simple intelligence gathering and police work would suffice. However, if one accurately assesses the situation, then the government can develop and implement an appropriate strategy for eliminating the sub-state actor. Governments that fail to understand the difference will implement incorrect tactics and fail to neutralize the threats to their country.
By Guest Writer John Entingh
This paper initiates discourse on mass-mediated terrorism literacy at its most basic level. Terror groups use wanton acts of violence to create a culture of fear in an attempt to gain mind control. The media then usurps the control and perpetuates the culture of fear for its own ends. More often than not, government entities manipulate the media’s control through a controlled release of information. Because terrorism is a very real danger to all, and new forms of media are vying for control, people need to have the ability to understand where the true threat actually lies. The core principle is that humans have a tendency to become desensitized by over-stimulation. Consistently perpetuating a culture of fear will inevitably desensitize human awareness to very real dangers. The most practical method for avoiding desensitization is through literacy of a mass-mediated culture of fear. In addition, by cultivating a culture of fear, the general public is distracted from asking critical questions on agenda setting. Without asking critical questions, agendas lack any sense of objectivity on all fronts. This brief introduction is not intended to be a comprehensive media-literacy course, only to initiate discourse on a growing phenomenon of the Fourth Estate and hopefully to encourage literacy of such. The general public has only one defense against cultivation, mind control, and the culture of fear, and that is Fourth Estate literacy.
27 AUGUST 2011 - KRISTIN BUDD - The framing of the War on Terror under the Bush administration as an intentional domestic policy used to transform and influence US foreign policy.
Framing is a central organizational idea or story line that provides meaning to an unfolding sequence of events and that weaves a connection among them. It also suggests what the controversy is about, giving the heart of the issue. Framing includes the process of emphasizing and omitting information in a story so that the media can form the events into a dramatic or twisted story to attract and influence an audience. In my opinion, American journalists frame the war on terrorism in a biased way that portrays the events as patriotic and positive for the United States.
The catchphrase “War on Terror”, coined by the Bush administration shortly after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, set a retaliatory tone in order to validate homeland security policies and rationalized military involvement in the Middle East. In the Washington Post
Katrina vanden Heuvel wrote that President Bush consciously used this phrase to frame the fight as “war” against our attackers. President Obama said in a public address that framing the event in this light destroyed any hope of unity (vanden Heuvel). Shortly after bin Laden’s demise, however, Obama framed the killing as the “end of war” when, in fact, it significantly advanced the fight against terrorism but did not end the war. During his address, Obama also brought back the emotion from 9/11 in order to make the American audience feel unified and give justification for continuing the war (vanden Heuvel).
Such overarching themes phrased by governmental officials strongly coerce the news media to quickly pick up on implications without questioning their accuracy. Journalists immediately frame news coverage in the same vein as politicians. After 9/11, journalists took the lead from President Bush’s rhetoric to frame revenge against our attackers as the War on Terror. Their news coverage not only swayed public opinion to believe in our country’s mission but also brought about changes to public policy. In her article, “Terrorism as a Context of Coverage Before the Iraq War”, Amy Fried wrote that Time
’s and Newsweek
’s coverage of Iraq policy was framed by the 9/11 context, as well as stories about terrorism in general. As an example, Fried pointed out that news magazine articles used photographs and graphics that linked Iraq to terrorism. As Table 1 shows, the September 16 cover stories about Iraq were preceded by cover stories about 9/11 and then followed by a Time
September 23 cover about al Qaeda terrorists. Newsweek
’s cover story on September 23 emphasized Iraq, with the title ‘How We Helped Create Saddam and Can We Fix Iraq after He’s Gone?’ with a large picture of Saddam Hussein’s face taking up most of the cover. Just before the cover story, a four-page photo spread focused around September 11 commemorations, including flags, a kneeling police officer at Ground Zero, flowers, and President Bush’s words from his speech of commemoration, with the quote ‘What our enemies have begun, we will finish’ (Fried). This biased display of photojournalism promoted patriotism and drew on people’s emotions from the 9/11 attack to ensure that the American people would stand behind the war. Newsweek
decided to depict the coverage in this light to show that the devastating effects of 9/11 justified the fight with Iraq and the hatred of Saddam Hussein.
As another example, Hetherington and Nelson indicated in “The Anatomy of a Rally Effect,” that President Bush quickly took advantage of the “rally-around-the-flag effect” to promote American patriotism and increase his falling approval rating. The media promoted his image as positive by framing news coverage to endorse our government’s mission to fight terrorism because the President believed that Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of mass destruction in Iraq that would obliterate America. The news media framed their news coverage by reporting that Iraq was in possession of weapons of mass destruction without ample investigation. Fried pointed out that people simply assumed that Iraq possessed these weapons because media coverage reported a declaration of war on Iraq and Saddam Hussein to protect Americans from total obliteration. Fried wrote, “Both news magazines used graphics that strongly implied that Iraq posed a threat to U.S. national security” (Fried). In reality, the media wanted to show that Iraq posed a threat and skirted the issue with implications rather than reporting actual facts (Fried).
The media has also chosen to pacify the American people by portraying our military in a positive light. In The Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media
, Schwalbe wrote that the media dramatically reports war by appealing to visual senses through photographs, videos, graphics, icons, and maps. News articles are framed to influence audience reaction to news about the war and provide an accounting of the war for those who are not there (Schwalbe et al.). The media selectively chooses what to show about the war in order to censor negative information in favor of facts that cause audiences to see the war in a positive light. For example, the media shows positive images of U.S. soldiers helping people in Iraq instead of photos that portray U.S. bombing of innocent Iraqi civilians.
To further appease Americans, the media often depicts Arabs as the enemy and creates an image in the minds of American citizens that Arabs are violent. Most journalists on the battlefield in this war have chosen to omit footage of the casualties of war and innocent people dying in favor of showing more images of soldiers helping the local citizens than in any previous US war. The media and our government censor news coverage by choosing not to frame war stories in a negative light in order to justify starting and continuing the war. In her article, Schwalbe concluded by following the footsteps of previous scholars, and realizing that television journalists are more likely to report war news in a positive manner. In addition, she wrote that both the Associated Press and U.S. newspapers choose biased reporting by framing anti-war demonstrators in a negative light while associating pro-war demonstrators with harmony (Schwalbe et al).
In contrast to the philosophy of American journalists, Al Jazeera, the news station founded by the Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani, reports supposedly unbiased news as an option to the government-run television that is popular throughout the Middle East. Al Jazeera’s goal is to frame their news as truthful, fact-filled broadcasts about political events at the risk of threatening leaders in their own county. The station claims to report uncensored news by showing actual footage of controversial events, such as the aftermath of bombings and prisoners of war to ensure that the public knows the truth (Control Room).
When considering the impact journalists have on people when framing their stories, one might suggest they “dig a little deeper” for the truth in order to appropriately inform their public. Unfortunately, it seems that the media frequently chooses to remain upbeat and selects the path to positive-light reporting. In direct disagreement with this philosophy, news audiences have the right to complete, uncensored, and unbiased news so they can decide for themselves whether to believe or disbelieve what they hear or read. It is not surprising that deep-thinking and probing American citizens look for alternative news sources and turn to Al Jazeera for what they hope to be the truth about the war with the Middle East, a pattern to which American news outlets have reacted in a most hostile manner.
WORKS CITED Control Room
. Dir. Jehane Noujaim. Writers Jehane Noujaim and Julia Bacha. Noujaim Films, 2004. DVD (documentary)
Fried, Amy. "Terrorism as a Context of Coverage Before the Iraq War." Harvard International Journal of Press/Politics. 10.125-132 (2005): Print.
Gershkoff, Amy and Kushner, Shana. “Shaping Public Opinion: The 9/11-Iraq Connection in the Bush Administration's Rhetoric.” Perspectives on Politics
, 3, pp 525-537.
Hetherington, Marc J. and Nelson, Michael. “Anatomy of a Rally Effect: George W. Bush and the War on Terrorism.” PS: Political Science and Politics
. 36. 1 (January 2003): 37-42.
Schwalbe et al. “Visual Framing of the Early Weeks of the U.S.-Led Invasion of Iraq: Applying the Master War Narrative to Electronic and Print Images” Journal of Broadcasting and Elextroni Media.
Vanden Heuvel, Katrina. “A Chance to End the ‘War.” The Washington Post.
03 May 2011, http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/a-chance-to-end-the-war/2011/05/03/AFugChgF_story.html