The Social Construction of Militias in the News Media

Steven Chermak, Indiana University

The Oklahoma City bombing demonstrated the public's vulnerability to domestic terrorism and introduced us to militias. The bombing, the search for suspects, the trials, and the execution of Timothy McVeigh have generated an unbelievable amount of media coverage. This paper will examine how militias were presented in the media before and after the bombing. Three issues will be explored. First, I will provide a theoretical framework to analyze the presentation of crime and celebrated cases in the news media. Second, the concerns, structures, and ideology of the 1990s militia movement will be discussed. Third, I will examine how militias evolved into an important social problem, and how they have been presented in the news. Data includes quantitative content analysis, frame analysis, and interviews with active militia members.

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Updated 05/20/2006