Issue August 2014; (7) 2

mwc coverARTICLES

Stuart Allan

Witnessing in crisis: Photo-reportage of terror attacks in Boston and London

The importance of bearing witness to what is transpiring in harrowing circumstances is a lynchpin of war and conflict reporting. More often than not in recent years, however, the person first on the scene with a camera has been an ordinary citizen, if not one of the combatants themselves. Accordingly, this article explores a number of pressing questions confronting news photographers – both professionals of the craft and bystanders offering improvised contributions to newsmaking – committed to relaying what they see unfolding before them, however disturbing it may be. More specifically, the discussion focuses on two crisis events recurrently characterised as ‘terror attacks’ in the US and British press: the bombing of the Boston marathon in April 2013, and the killing of a British soldier in Woolwich, southeast London, the following month. Drawing on a visual analysis of the photo-reportage of these attacks, the author examines diverse forms of citizen witnessing and their potential to reinvigorate photojournalism’s social contract to document conflicting truths.

 

Ahmed Al-Rawi

The representation of September 11th and American Islamophobia in non-Western cinema

This article investigates the way some non-Western films viewed the 9/11 attack and the impact it generated on the lives of Muslims living in the West and in their own homelands. Six films from India, Pakistan, Turkey and Egypt are studied. The results show that they all demonstrate how Eastern and Western cultures share similar principles and aspirations. Similar to Fred Halliday’s claim on the myth of a ‘shared Muslim identity’, the films assert that Islam is not the same across all Muslim countries. The 9/11 events are used as a background for delving into the problematic issue of militant Islam in various local contexts that differ from one country to another, stressing that it is of significant domestic concern. All the films focus on the high degree of fear that Muslims living in the West felt after 11th September and emphasize that Islam cannot be equated with terrorism as ignorance and political interests rather than religious or cultural differences are the main causes of discord.

 

Jad Melki

The interplay of politics, economics and culture in news framing of Middle East wars

A significant part of a modern war entails the struggle over news frames to influence public opinion. Studying these news frames in a comparative international context may offer insights into the factors behind frame construction. The 2006 Lebanon–Israel war offers a well-defined case for such comparative study. This study examined how mainstream Arab, Israeli and US television networks framed the conflict. It found strong regional framing trends explained as an outcome of the interplay of political, economic and cultural factors that confined each network’s journalistic practices. The trends revealed a strong correlation between Israeli and US news framing, with some exceptions, and a division between two Arab media camps, both of which generally offered framing supportive of Hezbollah.

 

Safal Ghimire and Bishnu Raj Upreti

Wavering between profit-making and change-making: Private media companies in conflicts in Nepal

Post-1990 Nepal is remarkable, not only for democratic political change but also for its mushrooming media industry; media companies have been influential actors in conflicts. To analyse their role and motives as private business actors in conflicts, this article explores the dynamics of media engagement, the implications of media companies’ actions and needs, and their motives as corporate actors. The authors focus on two conflicts – the anti-monarchy movement and the internal labour disputes in media companies – and the companies’ response to different conflict situations. Using a qualitative case study approach, the article concludes that media companies in conflict situations have inevitable social as well as commercial obligations. Balancing these two interests and maintaining political neutrality become challenges to media in conflict contexts. Evidence shows that media companies can either manipulate situations or be manipulated themselves by various actors’ interests, leading to unintended and sometimes undesirable conflicts.

 

Rauf Arif, Guy J Golan and Brian Moritz

Mediated public diplomacy: US and Taliban relations with Pakistani media

This article provides a unique perspective on US–Pakistan and Taliban–Pakistan media relations in the context of the regional war on terror. Based on mediated public diplomacy and news construction literature, the authors explore some of the key challenges and opportunities that both sides face as they aim to influence Pakistani media coverage and win the political support of the Pakistani people. Eighteen online interviews with Pakistani media practitioners explore their perceptions of wartime media relations involving five main categories: US–Pakistani media relations, Taliban–Pakistani media relations, Taliban/extremist groups’ understanding of Pakistani news routines, US officials’ understanding of Pakistani news routines, and social media/internet as sources of information for Pakistani journalists. The study’s key findings are discussed in the context of wartime media relations and mediated public diplomacy.

 

Tal Samuel-Azran and Naama Pecht

Is there an Al-Jazeera–Qatari nexus? A study of Al-Jazeera’s online reporting throughout the Qatari–Saudi conflict

This article evaluates the high-profile accusations published on Wikileaks that Al-Jazeera was used as a diplomatic tool by Qatar, with the 2002–2007 Qatari–Saudi conflict serving as a case study. The analysis is aimed at revealing whether the conflict affected Al-Jazeera’s coverage of Saudi affairs, specifically whether Al-Jazeera Arabic (N = 285) and Al-Jazeera English (N = 220) websites increased the volume of articles casting Saudi Arabia in a negative light and decreased the volume of articles casting Saudi Arabia in a positive light throughout the conflict, relative to the pre- and post-conflict periods. The analysis of Al-Jazeera Arabic reveals a very strong relationship between the tone towards Saudi affairs and timing relative to the Saudi–Qatari conflict (χ2(14) = 101.57, Cramer’s V = 0.42, p < .001), with a dramatic rise in articles criticizing Saudi Arabia for human rights violations and support of terrorism during the conflict. By contrast, the authors found no significant differences between the conflict and post-conflict coverage of Saudi affairs by Al- Jazeera English. The study indicates that the Al-Jazeera Arabic output was highly coordinated with Qatari interests, casting doubt on its claim of independence from Qatari interests.

 

Shawn Mathew Powers

Conceptualizing radicalization in a market for loyalties

The purpose of this analysis is to locate radicalization – the process of developing extremist ideologies and beliefs – in the broader context of strategic actors (e.g. states) competing for legitimacy in transnational public spheres. Radicalization is distinct from both terrorism and violent extremism, though it is often a precursor to the use of terrorist tactics and can be critical for creating broad support for extremist movements and behaviors. The primary concern here is not terrorism per se, but rather how strategic actors compete to radicalize communities against the established organs and apparatuses of a given society. Borrowing from Price’s (1994) model of the market for loyalties, the author proposes that radicalization is best understood as within the context of the nation-state system, shaped by the existence of unsanctioned, typically foreign information flows. Governments are increasingly intervening into this space, both to shore up loyalty among their domestic citizenry and to engage foreign citizens in ways that weaken their allegiances to their own governments. Emerging media technologies provide new structures for ideological transfer, enabling states and non-state actors to compete for influence in a more balanced, transnational, ideational playing field. The stakes are significant, of course, with citizens clamoring for more transparent, fair and efficacious governance and increasingly threatening the legitimacy of states around the world.

 

Ben D Mor

The structure of rhetorical defense in public diplomacy: Israel’ssocial account of the 2010 Turkish flotilla incident

In public diplomacy, states are often called upon to defend themselves rhetorically when they are blamed by foreign actors for untoward action. Why do states engage in rhetorical defense and how do they go about it? To answer this question, the author employs social accounts theory to theorize the motivation and structure of rhetorical defense. Following a discussion of social accounts, he analyzes the tactics of blame avoidance and argues that they are constructed from validity claims of truth, rightness, and sincerity, as stipulated by Habermas in his theory of communicative action. This structure of rhetorical defense as accounts is then examined in a case study of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense of his government’s actions in the 2010 Turkish flotilla incident. The empirical study suggests that rhetorical defense is indeed composed of validity claims, but more specifically that these revolve mostly around norm-in- context claims, namely arguments that seek to establish a fit between norms and situations.

 

Book reviews

‘The Home Front’ Exhibition: Melanie Friend Impressions Gallery
Reviewed by: Kate Vigurs, University of Leeds, UK and Matthew Broom

Tine Ustad Figenschou
Al Jazeera and the Global Media Landscape:The South Is Talking Back
Reviewed by Andrea Wenzel 267

 

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