News Exposure and Fear of Islamic State: Survey Results among Flemish Adults
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AbstractSeveral researches have shown that news exposure is related to fear of crime in general and fear of terrorism (FOT) in particular (Altheide, 2006; Becker-Blease, Finkelhor & Turner, 2008; Nellis & Savage, 2012). Although, unfortunately, terrorist attacks are no new phenomenon and crime and violence make up an important proportion of the daily newscasts, the global attention and sensitivity for acts of terrorism has increased during the past few years (Prieto-Rodríguez, Gabriel Rodríguez, Salas & Suarez-Pandiello, 2009). The recent rise of Islamic State (IS) and the attention for this organization in news media has intensified news reporting on terrorism. Most people have no direct experience with terrorism, which makes them especially dependent for their information on the media’s portrayal (Nellis & Savage, 2012). This media impact is especially welcomed by terrorist organizations as they aim at spreading terror to obtain their goals and to intensify fear among the general public while using propaganda techniques to serve the in-group (Farwell, 2014; Hoffman, 2006; Ingram, 2015). The spreading of explicit beheading videos of western journalists shocked the news media and the public since August 2014. The terror-alert system in Belgium had been raised up to level 3 due to the nearby terrorist attack on the news room of Charlie Hebdo in Paris (January 7th 2015), and an anti-terror operation in the French speaking part of Belgium (Verviers, January 15th 2015). Based on agenda setting and cultivation theory in general and FOT research in particular, we tested hypotheses regarding gender and FOT for IS, terrorism avoidance behavior and information seeking by specific attention for news reporting on the issue. In addition, we studied the role of news consumption on IS and news in general on having personal conversations with others about IS. Furthermore, we wanted to specify the role of news consumption on IS, and personal conversations on IS in fear of IS and FOT, next to gender, age, trust in government, sensation seeking and empathy.
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