Media monitoring of ISIS
ISIS refers to The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. It is a terror group that is emerging to be the most perilous terrorist ground in the world. ISIS is a ruthless and barbaric group that usually engages in acts that include kidnapping and also beheading of its hostages. It is becoming a popular group because of its increasing presence in the social media and the mainstream. In the month since ISIS did behead two American journalists and later released the video tapes for all people across the world to see, there have been various media reports focusing on this group. The stories belong to a larger narrative that tends to be changing week to week and sometimes daily, yet the tone and pattern are familiar. The increasing popularity is contributing to the media coverage of the group. Because of the increasing popularity, the terror group tends to be worsening their heinous acts. Some of the reputable news channels such as CNN, Aljazeera, BBC, NBC, Fox News, and Al-Arabia are giving news related to ISIS in-depth coverage. ISIS terror group is also striking fear in the hearts of leaders around the world. In this report, I focus on how the different media channels including CNN, Aljazeera, BBC, NBC, Fox News, and Al-Arabia, are covering reports about ISIS.
Analysis of ISIS News
The video released of the ISIS militants showing the murder of hostages is some of the brutal videos the world has seen in the recent years. The decisions on how and where to use the information in the news tend to be some of the toughest calls that editors have to make. In November 2014, ISIS released a video announcing the murder of it’s fourth Western Hostage Peter Kassig, who was a US, aid worker. The war on Syria is seeing the media becoming a focal point for violence. Steve Sotloff and James Foley were the first victims of filmed execution that the group sent to global news organizations in 2014. ISIS tends to be targeting Al Jazeera because of the large scale of the audience in the Middle East. The videos prepared by ISIS are not only a tool of fear and shock, but also for recruitments. Al-Jazeera seems to understand that ISIS wants the media to reward extremism more than everyone else. ISIS usually expects the media to show the full video. The videos from ISIS tend to be the most sophisticated propaganda weapon ever seen in the world that uses methods borrowed from video games and action film.
When considering the video release of Foley, the group made the video for the media and not for ISIS purpose. As Al Jazeera become aware of the motive of the group, it decided not to show any part of the video. The purpose of ISIS releasing the videos is to show off, terrorize, and recruit. Hence, media outlets such as Al Jazeera and CNN are considering not showing the videos because it is a threat to humanity. The natural inclination of news organizations is reporting news and trying to accompany the stories on the radio, online, and other materials appropriate for what happened. In the case of beheading of Sotloff and Foley, some news organizations decided that worlds could accomplish passing the message, and there was no need of going the extra step to show images that were disturbing.
In an article on CNN by Stelter (2015), it indicated how Fox News is showing ISIS videos. The executive director of CNN, Tony Maddox argues that there is nothing to gain through broadcasting ISIS video showing the grotesque burning death of a Jordanian hostage. Most of the news outlets including CNN and Aljazeera are refusing to show the video. However, Fox News is considering showing the image of the hostage burning alive on the television and even went ahead to post the entire 22-minute video on its website. In support of its act, Fox claimed that it decided to show the video to bring the reality of the Islamic terrorism.
Media channels and ISIS News
Since ISIS beheaded two American journalists and later released the video tapes for all people across the world to see, there have been various media reports focusing on this group. ISIS seized Mosul, Iraq in last year June, and it already rules an area that is larger than the United Kingdom. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is the head of the terror group since 2010. The media has been providing coverage on some events that the group has been conducting. Baghdadi has only spoken one on camera; however, his address and the Islamic State’s countless propaganda encyclicals and videos are online. From the news presented in the media, it is clear that the Islamic state rejects peace as a matter of principle, and it also hungers for genocide.
According to a CNN report by Shubert & Thompson (2015), the religious view of the group makes it constitutionally incapable of certain types of change even if the change may ensure its survival. ISIS normally follows a unique variety of Islam whose beliefs regarding the path to the Day of Judgment matter to its strategy. While reading the different news focusing on the group since it started appearing in the media, it appears as if the rise to power of the group is less like the triumph of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. It is like the realization of the dystopian alternate reality where David Koresh survived to wield absolute power. Driven by the national outcry on the gruesome beheadings, the media organizations are focusing on the threats abroad and at home while they are invoking the confronting myth of the military prowess of America.
Covering of the horrific events by the Islamic State tends to pose some unprecedented questions to the media organization. Along with the ISIS steady inclination of the popularity in the media, there tend to be various frames used by media in coverage of ISIS. The first frame is that frame used by ISIS and the ISIS supporters in the media. The frame used is in full support of the Islamic state and has been incorporating different forms of media and mostly social media in assisting its spread of the message to the rest of the world. Another frame is one used by ISIS non-supporters that look on ISIS as the terrorist organization that people need to stop. Reporters are using this frame as a means of giving the public an inside look at what is like in the Middle East at the moment.
Within these frames, there are many sub-frames where organizations or journalists are putting their spin on the subject of ISIS to get the desired point intended. The western world tends to be implementing this more than by ISIS because there are merely two objectives for the PR strategy of ISIS. The ISIS objective is provoking the western world and recruiting people to join the group. A report on Fox News (2015) indicates how the terrorist group is targeting the West. The newscast tone which is Al-Bayan, IS radio tend to be targeting European recruits. After the news, the broadcast usually end with a swell of music and gentle English message thanking listeners for tuning in. The tension in the smooth, western style production and then extremist content indicate how far the hardcore propaganda machine has come since 2012. Al-Bayan usually reaches thousands of listeners daily through links shared on the social networks. It helps to swell the ranks of the Westerners fighting for the ISIS group in Iraq and Syria.
There are several frames ISIS is using their recruitment videos. On one hand, they are portraying themselves as being hardcore assassins while they tend to be using mujatweet videos in showing their softer side. The mujatweets are usually short promotional videos that often portray kids doing different activities such as receiving ice cream from ISIS adherent and singing praise to Allah. The effect that social media has in the recruitment of ISIS supporters from across the world is astounding. Through the use of the absurd PR strategy that involves the frames mentioned above, ISIS managed to enlist converters all over the globe to help in fighting in their cause. Today, there are protestors and supports for ISIS across the world and the prevalence of the world is aware of what and who the IS is because of the media.
On June 5th, 2015, CNN had an article focusing on how ISIS is exploiting social media so as to make inroads in US. After the investigation into the death of Usaamah Rahim, who the police claimed he was about to launch an attack, the FBI reported that there was a growing number of US-based ISIS sympathizers. The terror organization is using social media and well encrypted online communications that are beyond the reach of the law enforcement surveillance. When using social media, the group tends to be increasingly reaching new sympathizers and also encouraging attacks such as the one occurred in Boston. After an investigation, the FBI found that men connected to the plot of beheading Pamela Geller, the blogger, and kill officers in Massachusetts was encouraged by people overseas connected to the ISIS group. The counterterrorism officials identify that about 3,400 Westerners traveled to join ISIS in its quest to form an Islamist state in Iraq and Syria. ISIS tends to have the most sophisticated propaganda machine than any other terrorist organization. It is a global communications strategy that stumped counterterrorism officials while they are making inroads among US sympathizers.
NBC News had an article focusing on whether the claim by US of 10,000 ISIS dead believable. The news developed after a top US diplomat reported the killing of 10,000 ISIS militants in Iraq and Syria. The report raised the question of the compilation of the numbers and whether it reflected a US-led coalition success against the Islamic terror group. According to the media report, it considered the body count as a means showing the impact of the coalition work; however, it is a poor method of showing progress. The US military does not consider the body count as a being a measure of success. The number originated from several sources including reports from partners on the ground, ISIS itself, and satellite imagery. From the news released on the number of ISIS militants killed, NBC was very eager to know whether the number was accurate. Thus, it considered conducting a follow-up so as to know whether it is true. NBC informed the number was accurate in the context of a broader operation performed by other ISIS opponents. It included the Kurds, Shiite militias armed and advised by Iran, Syrian, and Iraq forces.
In a news report on CNN on June 4th, the media organization explained how ISIS is using water as their latest weapon after the militants did close the gap in a dam in the Western Iraq. That allowed the group easier access to the government forces. The strategies that the group is using tend to be changing, and its current move is likely to expose the residents in the Southern provinces to drought. In this case, ISIS considered directing the flow of the Euphrates River so as to give them a better access to the government fighters on the Southern Bank. Euphrates has been acting as the geographical barrier between the ISIS fighters and pro-government forces who are trying to move closer to Ramadi. Recently, the ISIS fighters claimed Ramadi, which is the capital of Anbar as part of its so-called Islamic State. When they close the dam, the fighters are forcing water into the tributary running south to Habbaniya Lake.
Two days ago, as reported by CNN, The House Minority Leader, Nancy Pelosi, suggested that the Former CIA Director David Petraeus is to blame for the challenges with the fight against ISIS in Iraq. It was as a result of his statement claiming that the US was losing the fight. The ISIS seizure of Ramadi renewed questions over the United States strategy to combating the terror group. Lawmakers on Capitol Hill tend to be expressing concerns regarding the threat posed by the ISIS as police foiled a terror plot in Boston earlier in the week.
ISIS is becoming a popular group because of its increasing presence in the social media and the mainstream. However, the media is playing a great role in determining the different ways of reporting news on this group. The media is also considering different methods of informing people about the news while still considering protecting people from the heinous videos that the group tends to be releasing.
Shuvert, A & Thompson, N (2015). The anatomy of ISIS CNN.
Stelter, B (2015). Fox News breaks from pack and shows ISIS video .
Fox News (2015). ISIS revamps western recruitment with savvy broadcasts .
ISIS exploits social media to make inroads in the U.S