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Public Policy and Administration


Donald McLellan


AbstractJournalistic reporting normalized radical lone wolf terrorist activities compromising public and national safety. The purpose of this research was to explore news reports of four radical lone wolf events that occurred in New York City (NYC) between 2010 and 2017 to identify political slant toward societal normalization of radical lone wolf behavior. The framework of this phenomenological study was Borum’s four-stage pathway mindset model of terrorism combined with Berger and Luckmann’s social construction theory. The central research question addressed how socially constructed journalism stories of lone wolf terrorist events in NYC aligned with liberal to conservative political newsprint continuums. Data were extrapolated from four liberal to conservative NYC news outlets. Using NVivo v.12 Plus data analysis software to conduct a thematic content analysis, the journalistic life of the associated event and isolated normalizing patterns led to a determination that all four news outlets contributed to societal construction using sensationalizing terror tactics swayed toward the outlet’s established political slant. Public policy addressing journalistic accountability considering neutrally aligned fact-based holistic reporting of terroristic events would critically support emergency first responders and the public to develop informed decisions, preparations, and actions. The resulting positive social change could improve communication between the public and enforcement personnel, enhance social awareness about lone wolf activity, enhance counter terrorism operations, and illuminate news reporting’s political nature.

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