Terrorism during the French Revolution was used to describe a “system or rule of terror” by the Académie Française (Roberts). This original definition of terrorism is too broad to be used effectively in today’s language but it lends insight into the core of what terrorism is: The use of fear as a tool.
Terrorism, in my mind, is a tactic used by relatively small groups that involves violence against indirect targets such as civilians and noncombatants or without regard to the collateral damage of, in general, “innocent” parties to promote a message through the use of fear and shock. Here, “innocent” parties include people that have little or no actual influence on the cause of the grievances of the terrorist group. Important aspects of this definition include the need to send a message, political or not, the targets and violent methods of the attacks, the size of the terrorist group and the use of fear to promote their message.
The news media’s role is impossible to ignore when discussing terrorism, however, it is an unnecessary element in its definition. News of terrorist activity would still spread by word of mouth without the fast global media we have today, albeit more slowly and maybe less effectively. The news media is an organized conduit from the terrorists to political powers that may change terrorist targets to maximize coverage based on the type of media but it does not change the heart of terrorism.

Works Cited
Roberts, Adam. “The Changing Faces of Terrorism.” www.bbc.co.uk BBC Home. Aug 27, 2007. Web. Mar 11, 2010.
Barnett, Brooke and Reynolds, Amy. Terrorism and the Press. New York: Peter Land Publishing, 2009. Print.
“Definition of Terrorism.” en.wikipedia.org. Wikipedia. Mar 9, 2010. Web. Mar 11, 2010.