Innovations and Reproductions in Cultures and Societies
(IRICS) Vienna, 9 - 11 december 2005

<< Models of Victimization in Contemporary Cultures

Suspected Terrorists, Actual Victims: The Naturalization of Violence in the Media

Matteo Stocchetti (Arcada University of Applied Sciences, Helsinki)



In this paper I propose the preliminary results of an inquiry into the narratives of violence in 21 st century politics in the media. The starting assumption is that victimization is a distinctive cognitive process based on specific and identifiable communicative practices. The paper focuses on a narrative consequence of the "war on terror", that has passed virtually unnoticed: the habit of the media to report killings by security forces describing victims as "suspected terrorists" or "suspected rebels". While it is dubious if these narratives contravene the basic principle of democratic legal systems that somebody is innocent until proved guilty by a court sentence. What they certainly do is reporting an event concerning a victim and a victimiser endorsing the victimiser point of view: his/her suspicion that the victim was a terrorist or a rebel. In these narratives the suspicion of guilt and the execution of a death sentence are brought together in a text that tells us that somebody was killed because it was a suspected terrorist. How far are these narratives from the point to imply that being suspected of being a terrorist is a reason good enough to be "legally" killed?

While conventional discussions on media ethics are centred on the notions of truth and accuracy, my argument is that also the point of view more or less implicitly expressed in the narratives of news stories is influential in the naturalization of role and practices involved in the use of organized violence. The analysis of the narrative intelligibility of news report is an effective method for the enquiry into this ignored dimension of media narratives.

Innovationen und Reproduktionen in Kulturen und Gesellschaften (IRICS) Wien, 9. bis 11. Dezember 2005

WEBDESIGN: Peter R. Horn 2005-10-10