News Media and the Public Discourse on Terrorism in Aotearoa New Zealand

Author: Qiwei Kang1 

Published in National Security Journal, 21 March 2023

DOI: 10.36878/nsj20230321.05

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This article explores the news media’s contribution to the evolving public discourse on terrorism in Aotearoa New Zealand. Employing a critical theory framework, it focuses on the construction of responses to terrorism through an analysis of two media texts related to the Christchurch terrorist attack, namely, “The end of our innocence” by Stuff and “This Is Us” by Radio New Zealand. The analysis demonstrates that, while the dominant media discourse had previously reduced discussions of terrorism to Islamic terrorism, the Christchurch attack created space for an alternative perspective. Moreover, the Muslim community in New Zealand has utilised news media to reject conventional thinking on terrorism. The analysis also suggests that the construction of a new, more meaningful public understanding of terrorism is possible if a wider range of authoritative speakers participate in the evolving public discourse of terrorism and if various social actors are given the opportunity to represent themselves.

Keywords: Critical Terrorism Studies; Discourse Analysis; News Media, Christ-church terrorist attacks

1 Qiwei Kang holds a Master’s degree in Conflict and Terrorism Studies and a BA Hons in Media and Communication at the University of Auckland. Her Master’s thesis examines drone deployment in the U.S. War on Terror, with an application of the actor-network theory. Qiwei is interested in politics and technology, contemporary political violence and the media construction of social reality.