Researching an Unusual Magazine

An Inspire article by its now-deceased founder, Samir Khan.

An Inspire article by its now-deceased founder, Samir Khan.

I recently published a study on a magazine that is a bit outside the usual purview of magazine journalism research: the digital magazine Inspire, published by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

This project offered a fascinating interdisciplinary opportunity to test assumptions about the community-building, audience-defining functions of mainstream magazines against a magazine with an entirely different purpose: the recruitment of disaffected Westerners to the cause of “independent jihad.”

In my analysis, I discuss how the content and style of this magazine support the self-radicalization process, based on existing terrorism research. It’s been troubling to see how often the magazine has come up in news reports (like this one yesterday).

You can read the full paper in the International Journal of Communication (which is online, peer-reviewed, and open-access, hooray!), and can also check out my Prezi (used in a recent campus talk) below — especially if you want to see a few more images from the magazine. They are…stunning, for lack of a better term.

I’d love to respond to any questions or comments!

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