Media and Countering Violent Extremism: An Uneasy Relationship



The term “Countering Violent Extremism,” or CVE, is now commonly used to refer to a variety of tactics and strategies—usually employing tools for mass communication—to blunt the efforts of terrorists to publicize their ideology and marshal support for violence, notes a new report from the National Endowment for Democracy’s Center for International Media Assistance:

The rise of the CVE agenda has been met quickly with controversy. Given that a significant number of the projects gathered under the CVE rubric involve media components, there has been a vigorous debate about whether the CVE set of approaches, which are rooted in strategic communications, are more or less effective than approaches to violence and extremism from the media development sector, which tends to instead emphasize the moderating effects of a responsible, vibrant, and plural media sector.2 This debate over the role of media is not occurring in isolation; it also inflected by a wider discussion about how the field of democracy promotion should cope with violent extremism. These debates—about violent extremism, media, and democracy promotion—have good reason to be contentious as they raise fundamental questions about the nature and causes of the receding tide of democratization’s third wave.


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