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Images of Fear. Comparing Constructions of Terrorist Threats in Western and Arabic Mass Media.


Project Coordinator

Prof. Dr. Jürgen Gerhards
Dr. Mike S. Schäfer

Project Researchers

Ishtar Al-Jabiri Antje Glück Juliane Seifert


Terrorist activity can be interpreted as one of the major contemporary threats to societies. In Western societies, it is mainly "Islamic" terrorism which is interpreted as a threat, while Arabic and Muslim countries often interpret military interventions of Western countries as "state terrorism". Perceived threats like these are important because they can lead to widespread fears and, thus, to the mobilization of large segments of the respective populations and to the (de)legitimization of certain political actions.

The mass media are crucial fort he construction of these threats and of feelings of fear. Therefore, we will compare media coverage on different kinds of terrorism in Western and Arabic countries. Focussing on TV coverage, presented threats and strategies of emotionalization will be reconstructed and analyzed.




This project is funded by the Cluster of Excellence "Languages of Emotion".


  • Gerhards, Jürgen & Mike S. Schäfer (2013): Terrorism Coverage in the Media. Comparing the main News of CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC and ARD. International Communication Gazette.Online first: http://gaz.sagepub.com/content/early/recent.

  • Gerhards, Jürgen & Mike Schäfer (2012): Terrorismus-Berichterstattung zwischen nationalen Spezifika und globaler Standardisierung [Terrorism News Coverage Between National Specifics and Global Standardisation]. Medien & Kommunikation (Sonderband „Grenzüberschreitende Medienkommunikation“): 115-140.

  • Gerhards, Jürgen, Mike S. Schäfer, Ishtar Al-Jabiri & Juliane Seifert (2011):Terrorismus im Fernsehen. Formate, Inhalte und Emotionsdarstellungen bei CNN, Al Jazeera, BBC, ARD und RTL [Terrorism on Television]. Wiesbaden: Verlag für Sozialwissenschaft.