The terror experts and the mainstream media: the expert nexus and its dominance in the news media

David Miller, Tom Mills

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Academic writing on ‘terrorism’ and the availability to the mainstream media and policy-makers of terror ‘experts’ have increased exponentially since 11 September 2001. This paper examines the rise of terror expertise and its use in one particular public arena – the mainstream news media. Using a combination of citation analysis and media analysis, the paper presents a ranking of the most influential terror experts in the mainstream news media in the Anglophone world. It is shown how what has been called an ‘invisible college’ of experts operates as a nexus of interests connecting academia with military, intelligence and government agencies, with the security industry and the media. The paper then takes a small number of case studies of some of the most prominent experts who exemplify the dominant trend in the field and examines the networks in which they are embedded. The last part of the paper uses the data generated to re-examine theories of ‘terrorism’ and the media, of ‘propaganda’ and ‘terrorism’, and of ‘source–media’ relations. It is suggested that the study of terror experts shows the need to study and theorise the media in a wider context by focusing on the relations between media content and production processes and wider formations of power. In so doing, the paper attempts to connect studies of media and terrorism to wider studies of terror and political violence.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)414-437
Number of pages24
JournalCritical Studies on Terrorism
Issue number3
Early online date25 Nov 2009
Publication statusPublished - 2009


  • terrorism expertise
  • academia
  • news media
  • think tanks
  • ideology
  • military-industrial complex


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