Media Coverage of Terrorism

Media Coverage of Terrorism

The case on government’s regulation on media coverage of terrorist attacks

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Terrorists are known to have the media broadcast their acts with the objectives of increasing their publicity, instilling fear, and gaining the trust of recruits. This makes it difficult for most governments to successfully create a framework within the liberal constitution to put measure to successfully regulate media coverage of terror attacks. The terrorists are aware that the media serves as a conduit of information for their act as these attack fits in the criteria of determining the newsworthiness. Any significant terror attack is in most cases guaranteed of free air time in the large media powerhouses such as CNN, BBC World, Al-Jazeera, WWW media.  The media considers covering these terror acts as a boom to their media coverage.

In the United States, the First Amendment of the US constitution grants freedom of expression to the media. These privileges are offers to the media based on the idea of role of media in promoting self-government. The government justifies their censorship on media based reporting based on the matters on national security which the government is asked to achieving. The government puts control of coverage to reduce levels of public fear and trauma from direct coverage of terror act. This may be achieving by limiting the Medias access to crime scene and proving media briefing. The government may also withhold tactical information that may put at risk lives of hostages or potential victims (Ghetti, 2008). All efforts of the government should be within the constitutional provision.

Public Rights of being informed about Existing Terrorists threat

The department of Homeland Security adopts a system referred to as the National Terrorism Advisory System that aims to communicate better, in a clear and timely manner and offer specific information to the American people on the nature of a terrorist threat. This has helped the agencies thwart possible attacks.  This system grants the American people their right to know under the Freedom of Information Act. The system adopted by the department of Homeland security classifies threats into imminent threat alert and elevated threat alert. The imminent threats are considered to be warning of a credible and specific threat impending against the country. Elevated threat is an alert for a credible threat against the nation. In issuing the alert, the DHS offer information on a summary of the threat, measures for public preparedness, information of targeted areas, and actions by authorities. The public have a right in knowing the existing threat as it helps increase vigilance all over the country (Zuckerman, 2012).

Ways in which the Homeland Security Officials can Disseminate Information on Terrorist Threats without Instilling Fear

The Department of Homeland Security through the National Terrorism Advisory System can communicate any impending threat to United State without causing fear. The NTAS system ensures that the information being passed is credible, specific, actionable, and under stable. The department of Homeland Security needs to analyze the information and communicate terror risks and in clear forms that the public can understand. The content of the communication should be properly selected and presented. This requires he DHS to first identify the critical set of critical fact matter most to the recipients (Fischhoff, 2011). The DHS can further improve on the information sharing structure. This offers detailed and specific threat information that is essential in ensuring that state and other local leader are in a position to make informed decisions to facilitate preparedness and response.  The flow of information needs to flow both ways between the DHS and state and local leaders.


Fischhoff, B. (2011). Communicating About the Risks of Terrorism. American Psychologist.

Ghetti, M. W. (2008). The Terrorsit is a Star! Regulting Media Coverage of Publicity-seeking Crimes. Federal Communications Law Journal.

Zuckerman, J. (2012). National Terrorism Threat Level: Color-coded System Not Missed. The Heritage Foundation.

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