Nacos, Brigitte L(ebens)
NACOS, Brigitte L(ebens)
CAREER: U.S. correspondent for several German daily newspapers, 1966-2003; Stahlmarkt (trade publication for the steel sector), U.S. correspondent, 1978—; Columbia University, New York, 1988—, began as adjunct assistant, became adjunct professor of political science, 2002.
MEMBER: American Political Science Association, American Academy of Political Science, Phi Beta Kappa.
AWARDS, HONORS: German Journalism Association grant for study in the United States, 1964-65.
Jimmy Carter: Der Präsident, Econ Verlag (Germany), 1977.
The Press, Presidents, and Crises, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1990.
Terrorism and the Media: From the Iran HostageCrisis to the World Trade Center Bombing, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1994.
(With Lewis J. Edinger) From Bonn to Berlin: German Politics in Transition, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
(Editor, with Robert Y. Shapiro and Pierangelo Isernia) Decisionmaking in a Glass House: Mass Media, Public Opinion, and American and European Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century, Rowman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2000.
Mass-mediated Terrorism: The Central Role of theMedia in Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Roman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2002.
Contributor to books, including Black Politics in Multicultural America, edited by Yvette Alex-Assensoh and Lawrence Hanks, New York University Press (New York, NY), 2000; Disaster Preparation and Bio-Terrorism, edited by Tener G. Veenema, Spring Publishing (New York, NY), 2003; and Framing Terrorism: The News Media, the Government, and the Public, edited by Pippa Norris, and others, 2003. Contributor to periodicals, including the Journal of American History, Presidential Studies Quarterly, Current World Leaders, Terrorism, Communication, Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, Political Science Quarterly, and Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media.
SIDELIGHTS: Political science professor Brigitte L. Nacos's interests include comparative politics, terrorism and counterterrorism, and the mass media and terrorism. For several decades, Nacos has been a correspondent for German newspapers and magazines, and from 1964 to 1965 she spent a year in the United States under a grant from the German Journalism Association. Nacos was educated at Columbia University, where she has taught since 1988, becoming a full professor of political science in 2002.
Nacos has written a number of books, including Terrorism and the Media: From the Iran Hostage Crisis to the World Trade Center Bombing, the subject of which is terrorist exploitation of the media to gain access to a larger audience. The hijackers of TWA flight 847 in 1985, for example, commanded media attention through which they could state their demands and objectives and exert control over the government's response options. Nacos notes that President Jimmy Carter was pressured to take action in the earlier Iran hostage situation in part because of media manipulation by the perpetrators that undermined his objective of a diplomatic strategy. In addition, the upcoming 1980 election played a part in his authorization of the failed rescue attempt. A Publishers Weekly contributor felt that Nacos's conclusion "seems to be that decision makers need to better understand their vulnerability to media manipulation."
Nacos is coeditor of Decisionmaking in a Glass House: Mass Media, Public Opinion, and American and European Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century, a collection of essays that studies the effects of mass media and public opinion on the formulation of American and European policy in the post-cold war era. Patrick Hughes wrote in Contemporary Sociology that the three chapters are dominated by two themes, one being the "Manichean narrative of a battle between the forces of good and of evil." Hughes described the second theme as "the problematic nature of public opinion, and added: "In many of the essays, public opinion is analytically problematic—often susceptible to authoritative sources and sometimes founded on ignorance. . . . In still others, it is methodologically problematic—expressing either an atomistic, individualistic model of society or a model of a mass society with a homogeneous population." Hughes felt that one of the faults of the volume is the lack of substantive discussion of the Internet as a supplement to or replacement of the existing media.
American Political Science Review contributor Marc A. Genest noted other absences in the volume, including the lack of an answer to the question of why the media plays a more central role in U.S. foreign policy than it does in other democracies. Genest wrote that "like far too many political science texts, this volume is filled with technical jargon that is familiar to only a small number of specialists. The problem is somewhat unavoidable, but the editors could have incorporated some simple pedagogical tools to help expand the audience of this important work. . . . Nevertheless, Decisionmaking in a Glass House is a vital contribution to our understanding of this complex and evolving relationship in the twenty-first century."
Nacos returns to the subject of her earlier book in Mass-mediated Terrorism: The Central Role of the Media in Terrorism and Counterterrorism. She contends that while the media can and has provided important information during crises such as the events of September 11, 2001, terrorism contains elements—panic, fear, shock, tragedy, and grief—that can also cause it to be viewed as "infotainment" as much as it is hard news. She also contends that the American media are more apt to describe violence as terrorism when it involves American victims and over-report on even minor incidents of such violence, a tendency she feels plays into the hands of terrorists. She writes that when the government sets counter-terrorism measures in motion, as they did following 9/11, "the media helped to create an atmosphere in which criticism of the various crisis-related policy initiatives in Washington was mostly absent from the mass-mediated public debate." Mark H. Beaudry wrote in Security Management that, "exhaustively researched and well-written, this timely book advances the terrorism literature substantially. While Nacos offers no definitive answers . . . she brings fresh perception to the subject."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Nacos, Brigitte L., Mass-mediated Terrorism: TheCentral Role of the Media in Terrorism and Counterterrorism, Roman & Littlefield (Lanham, MD), 2002.
American Political Science Review, September, 2001, Marc A. Genest, review of Decisionmaking in a Glass House: Mass Media, Public Opinion, and American and European Foreign Policy in the Twenty-first Century, p. 768.
Contemporary Sociology, September,2001, Patrick Hughes, review of Decisionmaking in a Glass House, p. 516.
Journal of Political and Military Sociology, summer, 2003, Philo C. Wasburn, review of Mass-mediated Terrorism: The Central Role of the Media in Terrorism and Counterterrorism, p. 157.
Political Science Quarterly, summer, 1995, Vincent M. Cannistaro, review of Terrorism and the Media: From the Iran Hostage Crisis to the World Trade Center Bombing, p. 310.
Publishers Weekly, October 17, 1994, review of Terrorism and the Media, p. 73.
Security Management, March, 2004, Mark H. Beaudry, review of Mass-mediated Terrorism, p. 130.
Washington Post Book World, October 20, 2002, review of Mass-mediated Terrorism, p. 4.*