Issue April 2012; 5 (1)

mwc coverSPECIAL ISSUE: Terrorism in Old and New Media
Edited by: Maura Conway and Lisa McInerney

Maura Conway and Lisa McInerney
Terrorism in ‘old’ and ‘new’ media


Maura Conway and Lisa McInerney
What’s love got to do with it? Framing ‘JihadJane’ in the US press

The purpose of this article is to compare and contrast the US press coverage accorded to female terrorist plotter, Colleen LaRose, with that of two male terrorist plotters in order to test whether assertions in the academic literature regarding media treatment of women terrorists stand up to empirical scrutiny. The authors employed TextSTAT software to generate frequency counts of all words contained in 150 newspaper reports on their three subjects and then slotted relevant terms into categories fitting the commonest female terrorist frames, as identified by Nacos’s article in Studies in Conflict and Terrorism (2005). The authors’ findings confirm that women involved in terrorism receive significantly more press coverage and are framed vastly differently in the US press than their male counterparts.

Heather Davis Epkins
Working the ‘front lines’ in Washington, DC: Digital age terrorism reporting by national security prestige press

This article reports on a critical tier in the global flow of terrorism information gathered through in-depth interviews with 35 national security journalists in the Washington, DC, ‘prestige press’. This research offers value by organizing, describing and analyzing the opinions of this elite group on terrorism reporting in the digital age. Rarely studied but extremely influential as conversation-shapers and a conduit to other press, these ‘front-line’ reporters offer insider knowledge and unique perceptions regarding the interplay of terrorist goals with resulting media coverage, the decline of traditional journalism, and how new media technologies are affecting their work. Findings include evidence of altered post-9/11 journalist routines. Reported results can offer practitioners insight into best practices and an opportunity for information-users to better understand and evaluate what they are receiving.

Geraldine O’Mahony and Jo Ellen Fair
From lords of war to leaders in society: How former Liberian warlords have used ‘old’ and ‘new’ media to self-reframe

The process of post-conflict reconstruction in Liberia involves an array of actors vying for power. Many of the key political and civic figures involved are former warlords, whose reigns of terror affected many they now work with and serve. By reframing themselves through social media these warlords have created new centers of power, embracing their new roles as public servants and renouncing past acts of terrorism. This article focuses on two of Liberia’s most notorious former warlords, Prince Johnson and Joshua Blahyi. Johnson, now Senator Johnson, was best known for swilling beer while he conducted the video-taped torture of President Doe. Joshua Blahyi, formerly General Butt Naked, who infamously drank children’s blood before running naked into battle, is now a born-again preacher with his own faith-based NGO. We argue that their use of social media has enabled them to reconstruct and reframe their ‘past lives’, ensuring these cannot become political liabilities.

Benjamin Ducol
Uncovering the French-speaking jihadisphere: An exploratory analysis

Terrorist groups have exploited the internet and other information technologies to advance their strategies since the mid-1990s. Violent jihadi groups are no exception. They have located the internet at the core of their media strategies, which has given birth to a vibrant global jihadisphere: an online community of militants and sympathizers united by their common adherence to a global Salafi jihadi ideology. Not only do jihadi groups devote increasing energy to attempting to connect with global audiences, but jihadi sympathizers from all around the world are more involved than ever in widening the spread of jihadi online content through para-personal media. The expanding use of non-Arabic languages such as French, English, German, Russian and Dutch by jihadi groups and ideologues has not yet been adequately examined in the academic literature. This article represents a preliminary effort at delineating the nature of the French-speaking jihadisphere, including discussion of the major websites and forums composing it, the real and virtual links between these, and how forum users originally learned of the forums’ existence.

Lorraine Bowman-Grieve and Maura Conway
Exploring the form and function of dissident Irish Republican online discourses

This article seeks to contribute to broadening the focus of research in the area of violent online political extremism by examining the use of the internet by dissident Irish Republicans and their supporters. The argument here is not that the internet substitutes face-to-face contacts amongst Irish Republicans, including violent dissidents, nor that it currently plays a central role in processes of radicalisation into violent dissident groups, but that it has an important support function in terms of providing an ‘always-on’ space for discussion, consumption, and production of Irish Republicanism and thus a potentially educative role in terms of introducing ‘newbies’ to violent dissident Republicanism while also acting as a ‘maintenance’ space for the already committed. This exploratory study considers the importance of these functions in the context of repeated suggestions that the dissidents have no significant support base or constituency as internet activity certainly gives the appearance of some such support.


Book Reviews

Mahmoud Eid
Book Review: Global Journalism Ethics

Paul Reilly
Book Review: Communication Ethics Now

Yan Wu
Book Review: The Birth of a Republic: Francis Stafford’s Photographs of China’s 1911 Revolution and Beyond

Justin Anderson
Book Review: Prisoners of America’s Wars: From the Early Republic to Guantanamo

Marc Jones
Book Review: Palestine Online: Transnationalism, the Internet and the Construction of Identity

Ruth M Sanz Sabido
Book Review: Terrorism within Comparative International Context: The Counter-Terrorism Response and Preparedness