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

Listed author(s):
  • Jetter, Michael

    ()

    (University of Western Australia)

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    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.

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    Paper provided by Institute for the Study of Labor (IZA) in its series IZA Discussion Papers with number 10708.

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    Length: 50 pages
    Date of creation: Apr 2017
    Handle: RePEc:iza:izadps:dp10708
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