Trigger warning: This project contains violent images and other content that may be disturbing.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines terrorism, in its most common contemporary usage, as "[t]he unofficial or unauthorized use of violence and intimidation in the pursuit of political aims; (originally) such practices used by a government or ruling group (frequently through paramilitary or informal armed groups) in order to maintain its control over a population; (now usually) such practices used by a clandestine or expatriate organization as a means of furthering its aims. Cf. terrorist n. 1b[,]" (OED). In short, terrorism is most widely understood as the unsanctioned use of violence by governments or groups to terrorize and intimidate for ideological or political purposes. A central element in contemporary terrorist strategy is mass media.

Today, terrorism happens in mass media. In the same way that, as Mark Deuze provocatively suggests, our lives are now "lived in, rather than with, media" (Deuze Media Life 2), contemporary terrorism is a part of the media sphere in which its global spectacle takes place. Since September 11, 2001 ("9/11"), the global mass media spectacle of terrorism has become a dominant factor in global militarism, international human rights legislation, laws governing individual rights and state security, and the foreign and domestic policies of nations all over the world. This is largely due to the fact that 9/11, because it took place in the "hyperreal" context of a major American city (amongst other locations in the U.S.), and was the most filmed and photographed event in history, "happened" not just in the U.S., but  simultaneously via mass media for onlookers around the globe. What this demonstrated is that the symbolic violence of the media event of terrorism is, in many ways, now far more powerful and impactful than the actual physical violence done to buildings and people during terrorist attacks.

While contemporary Canadian media depictions have largely centred on so-called "Jihadist" terrorism, this myopic focus on a stereotype of Arab-Muslim culture has arguably contributed to racist attitudes, religious bigotry (such as Islamophobia), a rise in radicalization, widespread misunderstanding between cultural groups within Canada, as well as a lack of recognition of other serious terrorist threats within the Canadian  and North  American contexts, such as misogynist terrorism, white supremacist terrorism, and anti-LGBTQ terrorism.

In answer to this Canadian media myopia regarding contemporary global terrorism, the Terrorizing Media in Canada collaborative online project archives and interrogates contemporary Canadian representations of terrorism and “the terrorist other” in Canadian journalistic media. The aim of the project is to improve media literacy about terrorism, and to encourage a better understanding of why these images and messages are such powerful influences on Canadian audiences, government policy, and on the proliferation of terrorism and militarism across the globe.  Other aims of the project are to feature scholarly materials on these topics, collaborate with other digital humanities projects and online archives, and to foster and encourage community outreach, engagement, and education.

If you have any questions or comments about the project, or if you are interested in contributing to it in some way, please email us at terrorizingmedia@gmail.com.