Unpacking cyberterrorism discourse: Specificity, status, and scale in news media constructions of threat

Lee Jarvis, Stuart Macdonald, Andrew Whiting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Citations (Scopus)
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This article explores original empirical findings from a research project investigating representations of cyberterrorism in the international news media. Drawing on a sample of 535 items published by 31 outlets between 2008 and 2013, it focuses on four questions. First, how individuated a presence is cyberterrorism given within news media coverage? Second, how significant a threat is cyberterrorism deemed to pose? Third, how is the identity of ‘cyberterrorists’ portrayed? And, fourth, who or what is identified as the referent – that which is threatened – within this coverage? The article argues that constructions of specificity, status, and scale play an important, yet hitherto under-explored, role within articulations of concern about the threat posed by cyberterrorism. Moreover, unpacking news coverage of cyberterrorism in this way leads to a more variegated picture than that of the vague and hyperbolic media discourse often identified by critics. The article concludes by pointing to several promising future research agendas to build on this work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)64-87
Number of pages24
JournalEuropean Journal of International Security
Issue number1
Early online date8 Sep 2016
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017


  • Cyberterrorism
  • Discourse
  • Media
  • Construction
  • Threat

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