Thursday, November 27, 2008

The Oxygen Of Publicity.

The power of terrorists doesn't derive from military strength but, as the term suggests, from terror and fear that their attacks create. Terrorist attacks therefore need media coverage in order to be successful, and the blanket coverage of the Mumbai/Bombay attacks is unfortunately giving them a victory of sorts.

Without television as a force multiplier the events in India would just be a mob of war criminals launching attacks on civilians and then being routed when a real army shows up. Yet Television imprints images of carnage and chaos into the minds of millions of viewers worldwide, even though rationally the scale of the attacks is miniscule in global terms.

I realise that this isn't China and we cannot simply censor coverage of terrorist atrocities but the coverage should be more restrained so that even the slowest terrorists realise that they are wasting their time and their deaths won't even make the front page of the local paper.

PS. I have made this point before in 2006 and 2007.


James Higham said...

That's the ongoing dilemma, Ross.

Anonymous said...


Of course you're right. The problem is that where you have either commercial considerations (eg FoxNews, CNN) or political ones (eg BBC, Channel 4 [1]) the temptation to broadcast the latest pictures from the scene is irresistable.

[1] the sneaking regard, if not for the methods then certainly for the objectives/beliefs (anti-US, anti-Israeli, anti-Jew, anti-capitalist) of Islamic terrorists, fuels the desire of the BBC and Channel 4 to give as much publicity to these outrages as the overtly commercial channels. For instance, the reluctance of the BBC to use the word "terrorists" for the perpetrators of . er . terrorism by Islamists (OK Moslems to you and me) well illustrates its mindset.

Anonymous said...

I heard a BBC news bulletin use the word 'terrorist' earlier this week. It was about the recently released members of the Baader Meinhof gang though not Islamists.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that's the issue. We live in an era when 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter', when serious commentators consider that criminals are either striking a blow against the society that excludes them or have been driven a mad by that society. In other words post modernism has created the situation in which we are incapable of finding the language in which to unequivocally condemn what has gone on.

If you compare the terrorist incidents of earlier times. eg. the Sydney Street siege or various anarchist campaigns prior to WWI then it is clear that public condemnation played its part in eliminating the problem.

In contrast today we get people saying things like 'of course I condemn terrorism BUT...'