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The Media's Coverage of Domestic Terrorism


Scholarly interest in terrorism has grown dramatically since September 11. One important line of inquiry within this body of research has been the media’s coverage of terrorism. Although there have been several important studies published on this topic, there has been little research examining media coverage of domestic terrorism. This study fills this gap by examining the media’s coverage of terrorism in the United States from 1980 until September 10, 2001. The analysis is based on a list of terrorist‐related incidents and New York Times articles pertaining to each incident. This study documents the amount and type of coverage received by domestic terrorism incidents, and identifies the variables influencing whether an incident is covered and how much space it receives. The results indicate that most terrorism incidents receive little or no coverage in the news, but a few cases are sensationalized in the press. There are several characteristics that consistently explain which incidents are covered and receive substantial news space. Incidents with casualties, linked to domestic terrorist groups, targeting airlines, or when hijacking is used as a tactic are significantly more likely to be covered and have more articles and words written about them. This study concludes with a discussion of the policy implications of these findings for the understanding of terrorism as a social problem.

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Full Citation:

Chermak, Steven, and Jeff Gruenewald. 2006. "The Media's Coverage of Domestic Terrorism." Justice Quarterly 23 (November): 428-461. http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/07418820600985305#tabModule

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