Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

MA International Security student challenges Media’s focus on terrorism

Thursday, 03 May 2018

Adrian News web

MA International Security student Adrian Pracon has a life-changing experience of terrorism, which has had a powerful influence on his choice of study.

On 22 July 2011, far right extremist Anders Breivik shot and killed 69 young people who were enjoying a Workers’ Youth League camp on the Norwegian island of Utoya. He was dressed in police uniform. Adrian came face-to-face with Breivik at gunpoint, but for reasons unknown, Breivik lowered his weapon and moved away. He encountered the assailant several times and was eventually shot in the shoulder at point blank range, as he lay still under his friends and colleagues who had been slain.

Adrian subsequently gave a key eyewitness account during a court case, which saw Breivik jailed for 21 years. Adrian says studying International Security has allowed him to dig deeper into understanding the subject of terrorism.

“One approach is to forget about it. Another, is conquering the fear. I am gaining more knowledge to create perspective on how little we should worry, even though terrorism attracts disproportionate media interest, compared to other life threatening concerns like heart disease.  An opportunity to study allows me to put a spotlight on the main issues: for example, how should journalists behave in instances of terror attacks? There is a danger that the media can end up running the propaganda of the terrorists.  There are a lot of questions. I hope to particularly explore academic gaps in this sphere.”

Benjamin Ree, a freelance video journalist for Reuters met Adrian in hospital the day after the attack. Ben is now a documentary filmmaker and is charting Adrian’s journey as a long-term project.

“This is a melding of our own two stories, as we met in the chaos. I am telling this story through archives, plus what Adrian is studying here.  He is studying his own experience.”

MA International Relations includes the unit Critical Approaches to Terrorism, which explores debates about how terrorism has assumed high significance globally, how it is defined and the nature of the threat it poses.