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: 

Data collection and analysis is all but completed. Four papers have been published in communication journals (three by the Mannheim team and one in collaboration with the teams in Amsterdam and Illinois). Other papers have been presented at various conferences (ICA, APSA, IC2S2) and are currently being prepared for publication. A methodological paper by the Mannheim team on multilingual topic models based on word embeddings has received a best paper award at the ICA conference 2020. We are currently finishing an empirical paper comparing coverage of right-wing and Islamist terror attacks as well as a theoretical paper developing a model for the multiperspectival normative assessment of terrorism coverage.

Fact sheet

Funding: 
DFG, NEH, NWO
Duration: 
2017 to 2021
Status: 
ongoing
Data Sources: 
Metadata and extracted features from global media content material
Geographic Space: 
global

Publications