Counter-narratives, media and strategic communication
Friday June 21, 14.30 - 16.00
Session 6, Auditorium 4, Eilert Sundt building
Chair: Cristina Archetti
- New Approaches to Understanding the Complicity of Media in Globalized Terrorism - Aud Sissel Hoel and Mette Mortensen
- Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): How counter-narratives emerge organically as opposed to being constructed by government strategic communications approaches - Anne-Marie Balbi
New Approaches to Understanding the Complicity of Media in Globalized Terrorism
Aud Sissel Hoel, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, and Mette Mortensen, University of Copenhagen
In July 2016 a debate broke out in European news media concerning whether news media should show images of terrorists. This followed a year of several grave terrorist attacks in Europe, for which the so-called Islamic State (IS) had claimed responsibility. French philosopher Bernard-Henri Lévy initiated the debate through an opinion piece in Le Monde, arguing for limiting the publicity given to terrorists. Lévy’s appeal spurred an intense debate concerning whether news media should actively withhold information by refraining from publishing the names and faces of terrorists. In this debate, calls for censorship were pitted against appeals to the importance of press freedom, leaving news media in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” dilemma. Struck by the unproductive polarization of this debate, we seek new approaches to understanding the complicity of media in globalized terrorism. In this presentation, we do this by undertaking a critical examination of Lévy’s three arguments for censorship (glorification, banalization, copy-cat effect), taking our point of departure from the news coverage of a recent terrorist incident in Morocco, where two Scandinavian backpackers were killed by terrorists pledging allegiance to IS.
Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): How counter-narratives emerge organically as opposed to being constructed by government strategic communications approaches
Anne-Marie Balbi, Curtin University, Australia
Counter-narratives have emerged as the ostensible panacea for countering the narratives and propaganda enticing individuals to the use of violent extremism (VE). Though extensive scholarship on strategic communications has generated instructive guidelines for best practice in implementing counter-narratives, the state-centric assumptions upon which this body of knowledge relies upon means that it often fails to address the recognised fact that governments are not the ideal vehicles for the messages in the first place.
Studying the symbolic meaning(s) attached to terror attack sites, this paper explores what CVE policy-making could learn from how counter-narratives emerge organically. Examining the Bali and Norway cases, it explores a) the discourses and the shared understandings of the problem in finding fruitful responses to these contested spaces and the contest between various local/national meanings attached to the terror attack sites b) the local resilience in form of trust between stakeholders and the collective action that the performativity around these spaces has generated and how this in turn has contributed to possible norm diffusion and social change, while conducting a discussion on the tangible insights and opportunities for emancipation for the field of P/CVE in general.