Date of Award

Spring 6-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Criminal Justice



First Advisor or Mentor

Joshua Freilich

Second Reader

Steven Chermak


Media coverage of terrorist attacks plays an important role in shaping the public understanding of terrorism. While there have been several studies analyzing coverage of terrorist incidents prior to 9/11, there has been little research examining post-9/11 coverage. This study fills this gap by examining the media’s coverage of terrorism in the United States between the dates of September 12, 2001 and December 31, 2015. The analysis is based on a list of terrorist-related incidents and New York Times articles written on each incident. This study documents the amount of coverage received by these incidents and identifies the variables influencing whether an incident is covered and how much space it receives. It also provides a qualitative analysis of coverage of the top 15 most news producing incidents. The results follow a similar pattern to pre-9/11 findings, where most terrorist incidents receive no coverage and a select few are sensationalized. Incidents with casualties or injuries, Jihadi perpetrators, governmental targets, or firearms are significantly more likely to be covered and receive more news space. Additionally, qualitative analysis indicates that coverage of Jihadi incidents tends to present them as international even when the perpetrators are domestic.



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