From suicide to mass murder – terrorist propaganda and the responsibility of the media

30 October 2016

In this article, EFD's Alexander Ritzmann highlights that media outlets often involuntarily serve as extended propaganda channels of terrorist organisations. In the current issue of tv diskurs, the magazine of the organization for the self-regulation of television in German (FSF), Alexander argues that many media outlets don´t put terrorist propaganda and attacks in context and therefore spread fear and confusion. Research on the effects of unreflected media reporting on suicides and mass shootings indicates that especially minors and adults with specific mental illnesses can be inspired to imitate extreme behavior if the individuals are in a personal crisis at the time of the reporting. In extreme cases, this can motivate individuals who are considering suicide to committing mass murder because of the attention and “fame” affiliated with these crimes. Alexander calls for journalists and media companies to explain terrorist tactics and strategies better to their audiences to foster the resilience of individuals and societies.

The article is in German and can be read here.