Spiral of Silence in Indonesia’s Terrorism Media Attack

Noelle-Neumann, a political researcher in Germany, observed ‘spiral of silence’ condition in political opinion. In Littlejohn & Foss’ book, he stated that spiral of silence occurs when publics are divided in two sides: those who express their opinion and those who remain quiet. ‘So one side of an issue ends up with much publicity and the other side with little’ (303).

When there is an influential issue in media, they will provide point of views that practically will also drive public opinion. Take terrorism issue in the mid 2010. Public opinion is driven by breaking news in media. There is opinion created that those Indonesian Muslims are terrorism and police had successfully arrested or shot them. But little public questioned the media publication, like what are the causes so police can easily judge those people are terrorists?

Such media published other side of the terrorism news, but mostly are Islamic media and they were considered bias. Eventually, nowadays most publics pay attention more to mainstream media, some ignored other media. One of Islamic media, Ar-Rahmah news online, was being claimed to have been paid by international terrorist. The owner was arrested. After the incident, Ar-Rahmah was judged to be a terrorist media and most Islamic activists chose to be silence rather than being arrested.

Noelle-Neumann called this condition as pillory function in media, when one part is being scapegoated by the media. Ar-Rahmah and those Islamic activists are silence since media published what will happen to those who over showed their Islamic identity in Jeehad understanding. They are ‘powerless against the media’.

Littlejohn & Foss (2009) described the understanding of spiral of silence in media as “the media publicize public opinion, making evident which opinion predominates. Individuals express their opinions or not, depending on dominant points of view; the media, in turn, attend to the expressed opinion, and the spiral continues” (304).

Media effects on public opinion. But as public, we should be smart enough to distinguish which side defines truth with proven facts and which side hides powerful intervention beneath. Media is one effective way to stimulate public opinion, whether it is true or not. Then who controls the media after all?


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