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The media is tasked with the responsibility of passing on the news to the public. The coverage of terroristic activities presents a challenge regarding the way to pass information about terror attacks without causing more adverse impacts on individuals. The manner in which the information is passed is crucial in determining the aftermath of attacks on the victims, first responders, recovery teams, and the general population. The media can avert being labeled as perpetrators and instead protectors by the public considering the way and methods of presenting news

The broadcasts by the media have a psychological effect on people. This is because the media presents news to an unusually large audience that is a conglomeration of both victims and non-victims. The psychological effect could be either positive or negative. The latter has been more profound from most viewers. Ahern et al. (2002) conducted a study on the people living in New York with regards to their habits of watching television, as well as levels of depression and posttraumatic stress in relation to the September 11 attacks (Gregerson, 2003). The victims of the attacks, the rescue team members, and those who watched many images of the aftermath of the attacks on television recorded the highest levels of depression.

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Mass media can be beneficial to terroristic acts. The terrorists may create fear by broadcasting news regarding terroristic actions and their consequences. Corporations of mass media intend to make their news more attractive and reach a larger audience so that they may get immense profits. The terrorists use different media houses indirectly as tools in spreading fear across a population via in-depth coverage of the terroristic attacks. The results are an enormous rate of fear in the population, suicidal thoughts, high stress levels, and a loss of trust in the government’s ability to protect its citizens.

The magnitude of the psychological impact on a person not only depends on the images watched, but also on their type and period of exposure (Gregerson, 2003). It is a fact that the levels of stress in those viewing images of collapsing buildings as compared to those watching people jumping or falling from tall buildings are higher. The frequency of repetition of the images will surely influence the psychological effects of viewers and raise the level of depression. The media, therefore, should draw a balance between their efforts making massive profits and the impact of the news they pass on to the public.

The news of successful combat of terrorist is a relief to the public that eliminates their fears. They feel safer going to the work places, in the trains and vehicles, in their homes, walking in the streets. The media appeases the population passing such information and set more confidence in their government. However, some people are afraid of a possible retaliation by the affected terroristic group. This masks the joy of a successful terrorism defeat.

The huge potency that the media carriers being misused as a tool for instigating terrorism needs to be addressed. Unregulated coverage of terroristic attacks could potentially cause more harm to people of the country than a little benefit to the individual media company. Biernatzki (2002) says that the media has not only an ethical obligation, but also a moral one in conveying information to the public. This is because the editors, journalists, broadcasters, and even those who publish online newsletters do determine the outcome of life or death depending on what they choose to report or not to report.

Mass media corporations should take into account all the possible aggravations while releasing the information to public. There should be a standard number of images or length of time given to show horrifying scenes of the places hit by terroristic attacks. The regulation could also be in the form of bans on the coverage provided in case of a terroristic attack.

There are three approaches recommended with regards to limite adverse effects of the media on terrorism. Wilkinson (2006) puts out three options, such as not taking steps, media censorship, and voluntary self-restrain. The first option ignores the need for regulation and projects possible higher psychological implications on people out of use of the media by terrorists.

The government executes the second proposition. Here, the government, tasked with the responsibility of setting up what should be reported and what should not, determines what is to be aired on the news. The argument for this is that the government will be able to reduce the impact of terroristic activities on the people of that country by eliminating media-caused stress and depression. There is, however, a confrontation to the fact that it violates the freedom of speech and access to information.

The media outlets view this approach suspiciously, as a move by the people in power to conceal information from the public. They consider it as a form of mugging by the government and violation of their rights. Governments, on the other hand, are of the opinion that the regulation would be more beneficial than the press operating freely without guidelines in place governing the information they present out to their audience. Another challenge to the use of this method as a counter-terrorism strategy is the possibility of increased lobbying for rights by media outlets that consider it as a means to violate their right and possible retaliations.

Media outlets prefer the third approach, self-restrain (Wilkinson, 2006). The approach has two ways of implementation. The first, where the media houses choose the policies to govern the news they release or joint approval of governing policies and guidelines by an independent regulatory body of the media outlets. It is popular because the regulations are imposed by people within the industry who have a common goal rather than by an external body whose interest may be dissimilar.

The government should set up policies that will ensure the media is educated on the better ways of channeling information considering terroristic attacks. Ockrent (2006), in support of the idea, instigates that there is a need for the establishment of an open database that will provide more knowledge and exposure on terroristic organizations in terms of their disguises and methods. By coming to terms with the media outlets and letting them know that they are targets by terrorists, more efforts will appear to careful organization, restructuring, and effective deliveries of news to the public.

The media coverage on terroristic activities does affect the children. Exposure to the graphic images of dead people, the injured victims, and collapse of structures create posttraumatic stress in a child. Children experience fear watching violent images on television. Pynoss, Schreiber, Steinberg, and Pfefferbaum (2005) present a case of a seven year-old boy J whose grandparents died in the attacks of September 11. The writers indicate that the boy had sleepless nights. He experienced scary dreams about death. These haunt dreams are followed by arising of anger towards the supposed terroristic group, in his case, Al Qaeda especially Osama Bin Laden.

In some cases, the children do not want to be alone. They want to cling close to their mothers for a feeling of safety and protection. In addition, there arises a tendency of the children to be paranoid. They shun people and become asocial. The only remedy that stands for these children is intensive counseling. This will help them to give up their fears and the anger that they hold within them. Counseling also helps to overcome stressful situations.

Pynoss, Schreiber, Steinberg, and Pfefferbaum (2005) add that children develop a strong feeling of hate towards the supposed terrorists. The hate is as a result of seeing the mass killings of people in cold blood and brutally..

In conclusion, the media plays a crucial role in the society regarding the issue of terroristic attacks. A decision to report a matter or not to report it can determine whether people will die or not. The media outlets should be prudent in report news on terrorism so as not to cause psychological harm to the public, who are the recipients of the information. The media outlets should also ensure that they have a level of restriction to ensure they do not go overboard and cause harm because of the information they report. The regulation may take the form of self-restriction or implementation of government’s policy regarding this issue.

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