© Media Watch 11 (1) 35-49, 2020
ISSN 0976-0911 | E-ISSN 2249-8818
News Discourse of Terror Attacks on Twitter: Comparative Analysis of CNN and Al Jazeera’s Coverage of 2015 Islamic State Attacks in Beirut and Paris
Arunima Kumar1 & Ruchi Jaggi2
1Thomson Reuters (Bengaluru), India
2Symbiosis Institute of Media Communication, India
The period between 2014 and 2016 saw the rise of the radical Islamist terrorist group Islamic State (IS), which committed acts of terrorism in not only Syria and Iraq but also unleashed violence in the rest of the world. Twitter took the lead in being the source of receiving and giving quick updates on terror news. However, a key question that arises is about balanced coverage. Media made enormous efforts to humanize the terror attacks in the West, while what was happening in West Asia (Middle East) was constructed from a partisan political position. The researchers studied the coverage of the Beirut attack and the Paris attack, both of which took place in November 2015. The Twitter handles of Al Jazeera and CNN’s Breaking News were used to conduct the study. The data analysis establishes that there was a clear imbalance while covering Islamic State attacks in Paris and Beirut, respectively. The Paris attack received far more coverage from both CNN and Al Jazeera in terms of quantum and nature of issues addressed.
Keywords: CNN, Al Jazeera, media bias, terror attacks, social media; digital age, Twitter, terrorism reporting
Adoni, H., & Mane, S. (1984). Media and the social construction of reality: Toward an integration of theory and research. Communication Research, 11(3), 323-340.
Alghamdi, E. A. (2015). The representation of Islam in Western media: The coverage of Norway terrorist attacks. International Journal of Applied Linguistics and English Literature, 4(3), 198-204.
Al-Jazeera News. (n.d.). Retrieved from Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=from%3AAJENews%20since%3A2015-11-11%20until%3A2015-11-13&src=typd
Al-Jazeera News. (n.d.). Retrieved from Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?q=from%3AAJENews%20since%3A2015-11-13%20until%3A2015-11-15&src=typd
Al-Jazeera News. (n.d.). Retrieved from Twtiter: https://twitter.com/cnnbrk?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
Ali, A. E., Stratmann, T. C., Park, S., Schöning, J., Heuten, W., & Heuten, W. (2018). Measuring, Understanding, and Classifying News Media Sympathy on Twitter after Crisis Events. doi:10.1145/3173574.3174130
Al-Qudah, M., Ziani, A., & Alrajehi, M. (2018).Arab Opinion Leaders’ Attitudes and Perceptions towards the Coverage of Da’esh News by Arab and non-Arab TV News Services.Media Watch. 9 (3)
Altheide, D. L. (2006).Terrorism and the Politics of Fear. Cultural Studies? Critical Methodologies, 6(4), 415-439.
Aly, A. (2007). Australian Muslim responses to the discourse on terrorism in the Australian popular media. Australian Journal of Social Issues, 42(1), 27-40.
Arif, M., & Hayat, N. (2018). International Media Framing of China’s Domestic Politics: An Analysis of Aljazeera English and BBC News. Media Watch, 9(1), 89-105.
Arqoub, O., & Ozad, B. (2019). Israel media gatekeeper during Gaza War 2014 coverage: Case of study of Yedioth Ahronotho newspaper. Media Watch, 10(1), 22-40.
Ausserhofer, Maireder, A., & Julian. (2014). Political Discourses on Twitter.In Twitter and Society. New York: Peter Lang nn ,,m, Inc. Retrieved from http://ausserhofer.net/b00mbl1tz/pub/2014-MairederAusserhofer-PoliticalDiscoursesTwitter_FINAL.pdf
Barnards, Anne. (2015). Beirut, Also the Site of Deadly Attacks, Feels Forgotten. New York Times. Retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2015/11/16/world/middleeast/beirut-lebanon-attacks-paris.html
Beckett, C. (2016, September). Fanning the flames: Reporting terror in a networked world. New York, United States of America: Columbia School of Journalism . Retrieved August 13, 2017, from https://www.cjr.org/tow_center_reports/coverage_terrorism_social_media.php
Bennett, D. (2016). Sourcing the BBC’s live online coverage of terror attacks. Digital Journalism, 4(7), 861-874.
Bernatis, V. (2014). The Taliban and Twitter: Tactical reporting and strategic messaging. Perspectives on Terrorism, 8(6), 25-35.
Bittermann, A. S., & Jim, P. M. (2015, November 13). World. Retrieved March 18, 2018, from CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/13/world/paris-shooting/index.html
Brewer, P. R., Graf, J., & Willnat, L. (2003). Priming or framing: Media influence on attitudes toward foreign countries. Gazette (Leiden, Netherlands), 65(6), 493-508.
Ceron, A., Curini, L., &Iacus, S. M. (2019). ISIS at its apogee: the Arabic discourse on Twitter and what we can learn from that about ISIS support and Foreign Fighters. Sage Open, 9(1), 2158244018789229.
CNN Breaking News .(n.d.). Retrieved from Twitter :https://twitter.com/cnnbrk?ref_src=twsrc%5Egoogle%7Ctwcamp%5Eserp%7Ctwgr%5Eauthor
CNN breaking news.(n.d.). Retrieved from Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&q=from%3Acnnbrk%20since%3A2015-11-12%20until%3A2015-11-13&src=typd
CNN Breaking News.(n.d.). Retrieved from Twitter: https://twitter.com/search?f=tweets&q=from%3Acnnbrk%20since%3A2015-11-13%20until%3A2015-11-16&src=typd
Drakos, K., &Gofas, A. (2006). The devil you know but are afraid to face: Underreporting bias and its distorting effects on the study of terrorism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50(5), 714-735.
Event.(n.d.). Retrieved from Al Jazeera: http://live.aljazeera.com/Event/Paris_Attacks_4?Page=0
Fakude, T. (2016). Media Coverage of the Paris and Brussels Attacks – What was Different? Doha: Al Jazeera Centre for Studies. Retrieved August 13, 2015, from http://studies.aljazeera.net/en/reports/2016/04/media-coverage-paris-brussels-attacks-160403101940528.html
Franks, S., & Shaw, I. S. (2012). Global media and the War on Terror: Why some wars matter. Journal of African Media Studies, 6.
Graham, D. A. (2015). The Empathy Gap Between Paris and Beirut. The Atlantic . Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/international/archive/2015/11/paris-beirut-terrorism-empathy-gap/416121/
Greg Botelho, P. C. (2015, November 12). Middle East. Retrieved from CNN: https://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/12/middleeast/beirut-explosions/index.html
Huff, C., & Kertzer, J. D. (2018). How the public defines terrorism. American Journal of Political Science, 62(1), 55-71.
Hayat, N., & Wahab, J. A. (2016). Portrayal of Islam and Muslims in the Talk Shows of CNN and BBC. Media Watch, 7(3), 267-273.
In Pictures/France.(n.d.). Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2015/11/paris-attacks-france-isil-worldwide-solidarity-blue-white-red-151114140137410.html
In Pictures/Politics.(n.d.). Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/inpictures/2015/11/lebanon-mourns-victims-twin-suicide-bombings-151113101543246.html
Ismail, A., & Mishra, S. (2019). Configuring terrorism in the age of ISIS: The New York Times’ coverage of the 2015 Beirut and Paris attacks. Global Media and Communication, 1742766519846643.
Kearns, E. M., Betus, A. E., & Lemieux, A. F. (2019). Why do some terrorist attacks receive more media attention than others?. Justice Quarterly, 1-24.
Kwon, K. H., Chadha, M., &Pellizzaro, K. (2017). Proximity and terrorism news in social media: A construal-level theoretical approach to networked framing of terrorism in Twitter. Mass Communication and Society, 20(6), 869-894.
Jetter, M. (2014, September).Terrorism and the Media. Bonn, Germany. Retrieved July 16, 2017, from http://ftp.iza.org/dp8497.pdf
Joshua, B., &Capelouto, E. P. (2015, November 13). CNN. Retrieved from World: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/13/europe/bataclan-paris-shooting-witness/index.html
Kang, C., &Apuzzo, M. (2016, February 24). U.S. Asks Tech and Entertainment Industries Help in Fighting Terrorism. Retrieved from New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/02/25/technology/tech-and-media-firms-called-to-white-house-for-terrorism-meeting.html?mcubz=0
Lasorsa, D. L., Lewis, S. C., & Holton, A. E. (2012). Normalizing Twitter: Journalism practice in an emerging communication space. Journalism Studies, 13(1), 19-36.
Lewis, S. C., &Molyneux, L. (2018). A decade of research on social media and journalism: Assumptions, blind spots, and a way forward. Media and Communication, 6(4), 11-23.
Lister, T., Sanchez, R., Bixler, M., O’Key, S., Tawfeeq, Hogenmiller, M., & Mohammed. (2017, February 13). CNN World. Retrieved from CNN: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/12/17/world/mapping-isis-attacks-around-the-world/index.html
Mandhai, S. (2015, November 14). News/France. Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/paris-attack-affect-syria-policy-151114062610843.html
Marsden, S. V. (2013). Media metrics: How Arab and Western media construct success and failure in t.’ ‘Global War on Terror’. Perspectives on Terrorism.
McCombs, M. E., & Shaw, D. L. (1972). The Agenda Setting Function of Mass Media. Public Opinion Quarterly, 176-187.
Mohsin, A. C. (2015, November 15). In-Depth. Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/interactive/2015/11/map-paris-attacks-happened-151114085710872.html
News/ Europe.(n.d.). Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/hollande-paris-france-attacks-concern-stadium-isil-151114103631610.html
News/Europe.(n.d.). Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/reports-shooting-restaurant-central-paris-151113211237312.html
News/Europe.(n.d.). Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/world-leaders-rally-france-attacks-151114045734950.html
Norris, P., Kern, M., & Just, M. (2003). Framing Terrorism: The News Media, the Government and the Public.
Opam, Kwame. (2015). Facebook shapes how we respond to terror: what are its responsibilities?. Retrieved from https://www.theverge.com/2015/11/17/9751380/facebook-paris-attacks-flag-profile-photos-safety-check-lebanon
Qasem, A., & Hussein, A. B. (2019). News Sources as a Propaganda Filter: TheNew York Times Coverage of Palestine and Kosovo Unilateral Approaches of Statehood Recognition. Media Watch, 10(3), 453-470.
Renderson, M. (2015, November 14). Opinion. Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/2015/11/paris-normal-151114145240473.html
Ridout, T. N., Grosse, A. C., & Appleton, A. M. (2008). News media use and Americans’ perceptions of global threat. British Journal of Political Science, 38(4), 575-593.
Rohner, D., & Frey, B. S. (2007). Blood and ink! The common-interest-game between terrorists and the media. Public Choice, 133(1-2), 129-145.
Rosendorff, B. P., & Sandler, T. (2005).The political economy of transnational terrorism. Journal of Conflict Resolution, 49(2), 171-182.
Safdar, A. (2015, Novmeber 15).News/Europe. Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/terrorismhasnoreligion-paris-attacks-151114163311930.html
Saleh, F. (2017). Is it the same fight? Comparative analysis of CNN and Al Jazeera America’s online coverage of the 2014 Gaza War.Journal of Arab & Muslim Media Research. doi:10.1386/jammr.10.1.85_1
Samaha, N. (2015). News/Lebanon. Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/multiple-explosions-reported-southern-beirut-151112162331001.html
Samha, N. A. J. (n.d.). News/Lebanon. Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/isil-claims-suicide-bombings-southern-beirut-151112193802793.html
Schleifer, T. E. P. (2015,). CNN. Retrieved from World: http://edition.cnn.com/2015/11/13/politics/paris-terror-attacks-us-intelligence/index.html
Seib, P. (2005). Hegemonic no more: Western media, the rise of Al Jazeera, and the influence of diverse voices. International Studies Review, 7(4), 601-615.
Thussu, D. K. (1997). How Media Manipulates Truth about Terrorism. Economic and Political Weekly, 264-267.
Valcanis, T. (2011). An iPhone in every hand: Media ecology, communication structures, and the global village. ETC: A Review of General Semantics, 68(1), 33-45.
Walsh, J. I. (2010, December). Media Attention to Terrorist Attacks: Causes and Consequences. 1-15. Institute of Homeland Security and Solutions. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from http://www.jamesigoewalsh.com/ihss.pdf
War and Conflict.(n.d.). Retrieved from Al Jazeera: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/syria-talks-vienna-151114132426289.html
Weaver, D. H., & Willnat, L. (2016). Changes in US journalism: How do journalists think about social media?. Journalism Practice, 10(7), 844-855.
Arunima Kumar received her Masters in Mass Communication (Journalism) from Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Symbiosis International (Deemed University), Pune, India in 2017. She currently works at Thomson Reuters, Bengaluru, India.
Ruchi Jaggi (PhD., Savitribai Phule Pune University, India, 2016) is an Associate Professor and Director of Symbiosis Institute of Media and Communication, Symbiosis International (Deemed University), Pune, India. Her research interests include media representations, children and television, popular culture analysis, gender studies, television studies, journalism studies, and emerging discourses of identity on the new media.