Fear, Sense of Unresponsiveness and Oppositional Reading: Terror in Media through the Eyes of Victims of TerrorismTuba Gün Çınğı, Nadir Suğur
Acts of crime and violence spread to a wide range of people through the mainstream media and can affect those who are not direct victims of crime and violence. Unlike these actions, terrorist acts have emerged as a threat in a much broader social field, especially in recent years, in terms of their occurrence, frequency, and extent of spread. Various studies have argued that the coverage of these terrorist acts in media has given rise to the fear of terror attacks. This study examines the perception of individuals who were directly exposed to terrorism regarding the presentation of terrorism in the media. Research data was collected in 2018, in Ankara, which experienced multiple terrorist attacks. The findings of this research draw on in-depth interviews conducted with 20 people who were directly exposed to at least one terrorist attack in Ankara. The sample group was reached with the snowball sampling technique. The results of the research show that the frequency and the way news of terrorism was presented in the media led to a sense of unresponsiveness and normalization against terrorism, but this also triggers and reproduces fear of terror.
Korku, Duyarsızlaşma ve Eleştirel Okuma: Terör Mağdurlarının Gözünden Medyada TerörTuba Gün Çınğı, Nadir Suğur
Suç ve şiddet eylemleri, medya aracılığı ile çok geniş kitlelere ulaşmakta ve bu eylemler doğrudan mağduru olmayan kesimleri etkileyebilmektedir. Bu suç ve şiddet eylemlerinden farklı olarak terör eylemleri, özellikle son yıllarda tüm dünyada ortaya çıkış biçimi, sıklığı ve yayılma sahası itibari ile çok daha geniş bir toplumsal sahada tehdit unsuru olarak ortaya çıkmıştır. Bu terör eylemlerinin medya içeriklerinde yer bulmasının yaşanan terör saldırılarına ilişkin korkuyu daha fazla artırdığı ve yaygınlaştırdığı çeşitli çalışmalarla desteklenmiştir. Bu çalışmada, teröre doğrudan maruz kalmış olan bireylerin terörle ilişkili medya içeriklerine ilişkin değerlendirmelerine yer verilmektedir. Araştırma verileri, birden çok bombalı terör saldırısının yaşandığı Ankara’da, 2018 yılında toplanmıştır. Araştırma kapsamında, daha önce en az bir bombalı terör saldırısına doğrudan maruz kalmış olan 20 kişi ile derinlemesine görüşme gerçekleştirilmiştir. Söz konusu örneklem grubuna kartopu örnekleme tekniği ile ulaşılmıştır. Araştırma sonuçları, teröre ilişkin haberlerin anaakım medyada verilme sıklık ve üslubunun söz konusu örneklem nezdinde, terör olaylarını normalleştirdiğini ve bireyleri terör olaylarına karşı duyarsızlaştığını ortaya çıkarmıştır. Aynı zamanda teröre ilişkin haber ve içeriklerin anaakım medya organlarında ve haber içeriklerinde sıklıkla işlenmesinin bireylerde duyarsızlaşma duygusundan farklı olarak terör korkusunu tetiklediğini ve bu korkuyu yeniden ürettiği sonucuna varılmıştır.
News about terrorist acts, as is the case in other violent acts, reach a large segment of the population through mainstream media and this can adversely affect not only those who were directly exposed to terrorist attacks but also those who are geographically far away from the areas where these acts take place. The studies conducted show that the presentation of crime and terrorist acts in the media reproduces fear and cause individuals to feel more at risk than they actually are. In this context, this research examines the thoughts regarding the media coverage of terrorism and how it has an impact on society. However, the sample of the study is not those who were exposed to terrorist acts only through the media. On the contrary, this study focuses on the opinions and evaluations of individuals who have previously experienced at least one terrorist attack directly on the presentation of the news of terror in the mainstream media. In this context, this study is based on interviews with 20 people in Ankara who directly experienced at least one terrorist attack. The sample group was reached with the snowball sampling technique. The data obtained from the interviews were organized according to codes, categories, and themes through content analysis.
The results reveal that political issues are part of the relationship between terrorism and media coverage and that individuals frequently refer to political arguments when they answer questions. Within the framework of the codes obtained from the interviews, this study tries to examine themes related to the follow-up of the media after the attacks, use of language and frequency of the terror news in the mainstream media.
The results of the research show that the follow-up frequency and style of the media differ in the aftermath of terrorist attacks. Some of the individuals who were victims of terrorism stated that they rarely followed the mainstream media or never followed it due to the injuries of themselves or their relatives after the terrorist attack. Some of the interviewees stated that they had a brief look at the news about terrorist incidents.Since these individuals were adversely affected by terrorist news, they stated that they were following the media only for reading news summaries and obtaining general information about the terror acts.
One of the main issues that individuals who follow terror news in the mainstream media emphasize is the frequency of the content of terrorist acts in the media and the consequences it creates. Some of the interviewees stated that the frequency of terrorist news in the mainstream media let people become insensitive and unresponsive to the news and that terrorist attacks were then taken as if they were normal. However, there are some arguments the frequency of terrorist news causes anxiety and then this leads to an increase in fear of terrorism.
The findings reveal five main results. The first of these results is that the way terrorist news is presented in the mainstream media increases the anxiety and fear in society. Some of the respondents stated that the ruling political actors tried to keep others under control to legitimize their existence and that they used fear as a tool to prevent dissident political movements. There are also conclusions that mainstream media reports the news about terrorist acts in such a way that terrorist acts become something as normal. Another conclusion reached under this theme is the distrust of the objectivity of the content of the news in media coverage. This has led some individuals to evaluate media news through oppositional reading. It is found that mainstream media organs are thought to reflect terrorist acts only from a particular perspective, incompletely and superficially, and therefore some interviewees try to follow alternative media. Another conclusion reached regarding the presentation of terror news in the media is that mainstream media usually label, stigmatize and marginalize terror victims if they are politically on the opposition side. Finally, terrorist acts take place in society as much as they are presented in the media, and the perception of reality about these acts are blurred.
In conclusion, this paper attempted to evaluate the perceptions of individuals who were directly exposed to terrorism and critically looked at the media coverage of terrorism. We argued that the way the news is reported in mainstream media is prejudged and biased in the content of media about the victims and that this plays an essential role in the perception of individuals. It is shown that media content is not perceived objectively by victims of terrorism, and therefore thiscontent is interpreted from a critical and opposing perspective.