Responsible terrorism coverage – How media can cover attacks without serving terrorist agendas

Do media and terrorism need each other to fulfill their respective goals?

A widespread notion in popular discourse states that news media have a symbiotic relationship with terrorism. Hartmut Wessler contests this idea by highlighting the leeway that news media possess when dealing with terrorist attacks. In his lecture he will contrast different normative conceptions of the media’s role in democratic societies and lay out a set of normative standards for judging media performance. A presentation of empirical results from large-scale, comparative media content analyses will be followed by examples of desirable coverage practices and recommendations for both journalists and media users.

Guest speaker

Hartmut Wessler is Professor of Media and Communication Studies at the University of Mannheim and specializes in comparative political communication. A recurring theme in his work relates to the possibilities of rigorously assessing the quality of mediated communication against diverging normative models of democracy. Photo by Simon Fessler.


Julian Wucherpfennig is Professor of International Affairs and Security at the Hertie School. His research focuses on the strategic nature of political violence and conflict processes, especially ethnic civil war and terrorism.

About the 'Frontline research on terrorism' event series

This event is hosted as part of the Centre for International Security lecture series 'Frontline research on terrorism' at the Hertie School. The threat of terrorism is widely seen as one of the most pressing issues of our times. Yet the debate continues to be dominated by rumours, subjective opinions and emotions, rather than scientifically established facts. To strengthen the basis for political decision making, the event series aims to provide a realistic view of current and future scenarios based on the scientific findings of experts who study terrorism.