James Pinkerton has a must-read piece today about the symbiotic relationship between newsmakers and news reporters–and how this applies to the war on terror.

“Back in 1996, Kenneth Walsh,” Pinkerton writes, “White House correspondent for U.S. News & Report, published his book, ‘Feeding the Beast: The White House Versus the Press,’ showing how presidents and pressies played their respective roles in this process. And while the relationship might seem antagonistic, Walsh argued that it was actually symbiotic – each side used the other to its advantage.”

“What about terrorism? Those are the challenging questions asked by two academics, Bruno Frey of the University of Zurich and Dominic Rohner of Cambridge University, who argue that reporters and terrorists are playing a ‘common-interest game’ – that is, a win-win for both. Frey and Rohner studied terrorist activity from 1998 and 2005 and concluded, “Both the media and terrorists benefit from terrorist incidents.” Terrorists gain publicity for themselves and their cause, while the media make money from greater sales and “buzz.”

“The Washington Post summed up Frey and Rohner’s argument: ‘Coverage caused more attacks, and attacks caused more coverage – a mutually beneficial spiral of death that they say has increased because of a heightened interest in terrorism since Sept. 11, 2001.’ Perhaps the relationship could be stated as an even simpler equation: More media equal more terrorism.”

We rightly believe in a free press, one of the great Western traditions, and yet media savvy newsmakers (terrorists) know how to exploit the press media.