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Terrorism and the Media: The Effect of US Television Coverage on Al-Qaeda Attacks

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  • Jetter, Michael

    () (University of Western Australia)

Abstract

Can media coverage of a terrorist organization encourage their execution of further attacks? This paper analyzes the day-to-day news coverage of Al-Qaeda on US television since 9/11 and the group's terrorist strikes. To isolate causality, I use disaster deaths worldwide as an exogenous variation that crowds out Al-Qaeda coverage in an instrumental variable framework. The results suggest a positive and statistically powerful effect of CNN, NBC, CBS, and Fox News coverage on subsequent Al-Qaeda attacks. This result is robust to a battery of alternative estimations, extensions, and placebo regressions. One minute of Al-Qaeda coverage in a 30-minute news segment causes approximately one attack in the upcoming week, equivalent to 4.9 casualties, on average.

Suggested Citation

  • Jetter, Michael, 2017. "Terrorism and the Media: The Effect of US Television Coverage on Al-Qaeda Attacks," IZA Discussion Papers 10708, Institute of Labor Economics (IZA).
  • Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10708
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    1. repec:eee:pubeco:v:153:y:2017:i:c:p:32-48 is not listed on IDEAS
    2. repec:oup:cesifo:v:64:y:2018:i:4:p:698-711. is not listed on IDEAS
    3. Rafat Mahmood & Michael Jetter, 2018. "Communications Technology and Terrorism," CESifo Working Paper Series 6995, CESifo Group Munich.

    More about this item

    Keywords

    Al-Qaeda; media attention; media effects; terrorism; 9/11;

    JEL classification:

    • C26 - Mathematical and Quantitative Methods - - Single Equation Models; Single Variables - - - Instrumental Variables (IV) Estimation
    • D74 - Microeconomics - - Analysis of Collective Decision-Making - - - Conflict; Conflict Resolution; Alliances; Revolutions
    • F52 - International Economics - - International Relations, National Security, and International Political Economy - - - National Security; Economic Nationalism
    • L82 - Industrial Organization - - Industry Studies: Services - - - Entertainment; Media

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