Undergraduate
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Journalism & Communication
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Moral panics involve the perpetuation of fear of a common enemy or fear of a threat of harm to society. Moral panic is essentially the “exaggerated social reaction” resulting from “the activities of particular groups and/or individuals.”

Introduction

This paper argues that the media unnecessarily and irresponsibly represents the threat of terrorism particularly since the 9/11 terror attacks on US soil. In other words, the media engages moral panic in reporting and informing the public of the threat of terrorism. This paper is therefore divided into two main parts. The first part of this paper sets out the theoretical underpinnings of moral panic. The second part of this paper identifies how the theoretical underpinnings of moral panic are manifested in the media’s coverage of terrorism since the 9/11 terror attacks on the US. Moral Panic This paper analyzes the degree of moral panic used in the mass media in its coverage of terrorism following the 9/11 terror attacks. In this regard, moral panic is used within the theoretical structure espoused by Stan Cohen in 1973. According to Cohen (1973, cited in Critcher, 2003) every now and again, societies are seized by moral panic. To this end, moral panic is characterized by six essential features.
First there is a “condition, episode, person or group or persons” who are defined as a “threat to societal values and interests”. Secondly, the nature of the perceived threat and the individuals or groups involved are represented in “stylized and stereotypical fashion by the mass media”. ...
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