Media metrics: how Arab and Western media construct success and failure in the ‘Global War on Terror’

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The media has played an important role in the ‘Global War on Terror’, and has received significant scholarly attention as a result. However, the way in which different media represent and construct notions of success and failure has been less well examined. In addressing this gap, this article offers a comparative analysis of several hundred media sources drawn from Western and English language Arab press outlets, published up until the turn of the decade. Through this analysis, the paper examines the way in which different sources understand progress and regress in the conflict. The themes that emerge from this corpus suggest, not only that the two sets of sources demonstrate different conceptualisations of success and failure, but more interestingly, that through construction of specific metrics, they betray very different understandings about the nature of the conflict itself. In turn this constructs quite different interpretations of what ‘winning’ the ‘Global War on Terror’ might mean for the protagonists. In a largely consistent interpretation of the GWOT, Arab media interpret the conflict through the lens of American efforts to assert power and influence on a global stage. Western media metrics, on the other hand, evolve from a largely militaristic confrontation, to an ideological conflict, and finally constructing the GWOT as a global effort to bring down a movement. Notably, according to both Arab and Western measures, the media sources examined here suggest America is losing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPerspectives on Terrorism
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


  • Media
  • Influence
  • Counterterrorism
  • Perception


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