Responsible Terrorism Coverage (ResTeCo). A Global Comparative Analysis of News Coverage About Terrorism from 1945 to the Present

Research question/goal: 

The Responsible Terrorism Coverage (ResTeCo) project asks how journalists around the world can responsibly report on terror attacks in ways that give citizens the information they need without providing terrorists with the kinds of attention they want. Answering this question requires deep analysis of current and historical trends in terrorism news around the world in order to identify real world examples of responsible terrorism coverage that can inform viable reporting strategies for journalists to use when covering terrorist attacks. The ResTeCo project will use text analytics methods at extreme scales to assess 70 years of terrorism coverage from around the world as a natural experiment for identifying successful reporting strategies. The goals of the ResTeCo project are fourfold: (1) develop a multidimensional normative framework drawn from three competing theories for democratic politics that defines concrete indicators of what responsible news coverage of terrorism looks like from each theoretical perspective; (2) develop new software tools for automatically measuring these quality indicators in Arabic-, Dutch-, English-, German-, and Turkish-language news texts; (3) generate publishable research that addresses important questions for social scientists, journalists, and governments by analysing news coverage of terrorism across multiple countries over long spans of time, scales that go far beyond anything yet seen in the published research on media and terrorism; and (4) provide researchers around the globe with thoroughly validated metadata and extracted features on the extent and qualities of media coverage about terror attacks that can be used to extend and refine insights long after the project is formally concluded.

Current stage: 

Since the project launch in 2017, the three teams from Mannheim, Illinois, and Amsterdam have prepared a number of empirical and methodical papers, some of which have already been presented at international conferences (e.g., at the 5th IC2S2 conference 2019 in Amsterdam). The empirical papers written by the Mannheim team investigate (a) the emotional tone of terrorism coverage in countries with varying sociocultural characteristics and (b) the differential treatment of Islamist and right-wing extremist attacks across the globe. The methodical papers coming out of Mannheim study (a) best practices of doing sentiment analysis on journalistic text and (b) multilingual topic modelling based on word embeddings.

Fact sheet

Funding: 
DFG, NEH, NWO
Duration: 
2017 to 2020
Status: 
ongoing
Data Sources: 
Metadata and extracted features from global media content material
Geographic Space: 
global

Publications