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‘Māori terror threat’: The dangers of the post-9/11 narrative

Volume 14, Issue 2

September, 2008

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McCulloch, A. (2008). ‘Māori terror threat’: The dangers of the post-9/11 narrative. Pacific Journalism Review, 14(2): 205-217.
Author(s): Alison McCulloch
Publication date: 
October, 2008

The dominant narrative surrounding terrorism across the globe is a post-9/11 one. Whether explicitly or not, reporting on terrorism is at the very least strongly informed by the 11 September 2001 attacks and the response to them. And this is so even when, as in New Zealand’s case, the facts on the ground do not fit those of 9/11.  In this commentary, I use American reporting on terrorism after September 11 to pick a path through the emerging story of the 15 October 2007 police raids in New Zealand. I argue that not only does the American experience offer important insights into some of the risks associated with reporting on terrorism, it helps explain the narratives at work in New Zealand media coverage. Our own story has already adopted some of the more potent and insidious features of the post-9/11 pattern. Here I will focus on three: (1) terrorism as super-news, (2) terrorism as good vs evil (and ‘us vs them’), and (3) the dangers of ‘the political-media complex’.