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Facts Before Scoop: Media’s Role in Preventing and Countering Violent Extremism | Citizen Support


Social media takeover has completely changed the game of news cycles and almost relegated mainstream mass media channels to the back of the queue. Most people nowadays get their news from social media platforms like X, Facebook and WhatsApp. Most, if not all, media houses have been wise to keep up with the times and have established official accounts on these platforms that users can use to access verified content. That said, the power of mainstream mass media cannot be wished away as it is still able to reach the masses that are not yet on social media. Mass media is a very powerful amplifier of emotions and a driver of various agendas in society. As Jim Morrison rightly stated, whoever controls the media, controls the mind and this insight is not lost on terrorists who have increasingly sought the use of media to advance their agenda.


Dan Brown opined that media is the right arm of anarchy and American historian Walter Laqueur seemed to agree with him when he wrote that: It has been said that journalists are terrorists’ best friends, because they are willing to give terrorist operations maximum exposure. This is not to say that journalists as a group are sympathetic to terrorists, although it may appear so. It simply means that violence is news, whereas peace and harmony are not. The terrorists need the media, and the media find in terrorism all the ingredients of an exciting story. 

 

The media has a powerful role in shaping public perception and can be a force for good in the fight against violent extremism. By promoting awareness, encouraging dialogue, and countering extremist narratives, the media can help build stronger, more resilient communities.

To keep up with the fast-paced news cycle, journalism seems to have descended into a numbers game characterized by sensationalism and the rush for views, impressions and engagement. Professionalism and ethics have somewhat become a pariah to journalists. With media bosses only concerned about their bottom lines, the end justifies the means, much to the glee of terrorists because such careless and callous reporting especially of terrorist attacks fulfills the aims of the terrorism itself in spreading fear and confusion to the masses.

 

Humans are hard-wired to believe and trust what they see with their own eyes and hear with their own ears, as such it behoves journalists to exercise more restraint while reporting on terror. They should embrace responsible journalism by following the set guidelines for reporting on terrorist activities, without which they may find themselves on the wrong side of the law.

 

The role of media in preventing and countering violent extremism cannot be overstated enough. Here are some ways they can contribute to this effort:


  1. Educating the public by informing them about the dangers and signs of violent extremism, helping communities recognize and respond to threats.

  2. Reporting accurately: Accurate reporting on incidents of extremism helps prevent the spread of misinformation and panic.

  3. Highlighting positive stories: The media can focus on positive examples of community resilience and successful integration, providing an alternative to extremist narratives.

  4. Voicing victims' stories: Giving a platform to victims of violent extremism can humanize the impact of such acts and counter the dehumanizing propaganda of extremist groups.

  5. Facilitating discussions and dialogues: Media can host discussions and debates that promote understanding and tolerance between different communities.

  6. Showcasing diverse perspectives: By representing a range of voices and opinions, the media can challenge stereotypes and reduce polarization.

  7. Disrupting extremist propaganda by exposing extremist tactics: Investigative journalists can uncover and expose the methods used by extremist groups to recruit and radicalize individuals.

  8. Debunking myths: The media can fact-check and debunk false claims made by extremists, thereby weakening their propaganda.

  9. Publicizing programs: The media can help raise awareness of government and community programs aimed at preventing radicalization.

  10. Highlighting community efforts: Stories about successful community initiatives can inspire other communities to take similar actions.


The media has a powerful role in shaping public perception and can be a force for good in the fight against violent extremism. By promoting awareness, encouraging dialogue, and countering extremist narratives, the media can help build stronger, more resilient communities.

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