Media representations of terrorism

John Downing*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

1 Scopus citations


This chapter begins with a comparative overview of violence against civilians in war, terrorist events, and torture. The comparisons are between the United States since the 9/11 attacks, Britain during the civil war in Northern Ireland 1969-2000, and France during and since the Algerian armed liberation struggle of 1954-1962. The discussion covers the general issues involved, and then summarizes existing research on British and French media representations of political violence. This chapter then proceeds to a critical-discourse analysis of the U.S. Fox Television channel's highly successful dramatic series, 24. The series is currently considered one of the most extended televisual reflections on the implications of 9/11. Political violence, counter-terrorism, racism, and torture are central themes demonstrated in this television series. It is argued that the show constructs a strangely binary imaginary of extremist and moderate "Middle Easterners" while simultaneously projecting a weirdly post-racist America. In particular, the series articulates very forcefully an ongoing scenario of instantaneous decision-making, under dire impending menace to public safety, which serves to insulate the U.S. counter-terrorist philosophy and practice from an urgently needed rigorous public critique.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationExchanging Terrorism Oxygen for Media Airwaves
Subtitle of host publicationThe Age of Terroredia
PublisherIGI Global
Number of pages19
ISBN (Electronic)9781466657779
ISBN (Print)1466657766, 9781466657762
StatePublished - Mar 31 2014

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)
  • Computer Science(all)

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