Hosted by VICE News editor-in-chief Jason Mojica, Emphasis Added examined media coverage of the Islamic State with Carnegie’s Lina Khatib, Agence France-Presse’s Phil Chetwynd, the George Washington University’s Steven Livingston, and the Associated Press’ Santiago Lyon.
Khatib began by explaining that the media seems to focus on the self-proclaimed Islamic State, but there is more to the story than just the Islamic State, such as the brutality of the Assad regime or the rise of other jihadist groups in Syria.
Khatib characterized the media arm of the Islamic State as “highly sophisticated and tightly controlled from the top so as to minimize mistakes.” She continued to explain how the group’s media department attempts to minimize mistakes:
“There’s a media department that tightly controls messages, so for example, when new fighters join ISIS—if they are well known and they have Twitter accounts—they are made to hand over their passwords to ISIS central, and then every tweet that is disseminated is tightly controlled by the media departments.”
However, because the Islamic State does not have a single ally in the world, “this means that ISIS cannot establish its own media channels; it cannot have a satellite television channel, for example. So, in order to recruit new fighters, ISIS has to rely on the media in the West, as well as the Middle East, to carry its messages. So, we have to be careful about disseminating these messages, because we might ... just become tools in the hands of ISIS, as it seeks to affirm that it is indeed powerful and influential.”