Terrorism and the Australian media: from the Hilton bombing to the eve of 9/11
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 10:23 by Mathew Henry
This thesis seeks to fill a gap in scholarly literature on both terrorism and Australian history by examining the reporting and reactions of a selection of Australian newspapers regarding a set of terrorist incidents, from the 1978 Sydney Hilton Hotel bombing to an attack allegedly planned for the Sydney 2000 Olympics against the Lucas Heights Reactor. Newspaper material is also employed to further explore attitudes towards terrorism throughout the examined period, and how terrorism coverage was framed. In addition to examining reports and editorials, this thesis also examines printed letters to the editor, feature articles, and the response (within reportage) from major figures within the Australian political and security fields. This examination finds that, in reporting on and discussing terrorism, the selected newspapers frequently emphasised the facets of ethnicity, geographic distance, and 'otherness'. Terrorism was framed as an activity carried out by foreign agents in response to events occurring outside of and distant from Australia, and coverage frequently conflated terror with 'ethnic violence', a trend which grew in prevalence from the 1980s onwards. Additionally, major political and security sources were rarely questioned on their claims regarding terrorism, with newspapers often reporting their statements uncritically.