Issue April 2015; 8 (1)

mwc coverARTICLES

mwc-smallTal Samuel-Azran, Amit Lavie-Dinur and Yuval Karniel

Narratives used to portray in-group terrorists: A comparative analysis of the Israeli and Norwegian press

Studies of US and UK media reveal that the press adheres to a dichotomous religion-based us/ them worldview that portrays Muslims as terrorists but ‘repairs’ the image of Jews and Christians as criminals, creating concerns that the Western media promotes a clash-of-civilizations thinking pattern. To examine whether this pattern is representative of other Western democracies, the authors analyzed Israeli press coverage of Jewish settlers’ attacks against Palestinians (N = 134) and Norwegian press coverage of Anders Breivik’s 2011 attacks (N = 223). Content analysis reveals that the Israeli and Norwegian media labeled all the perpetrators ‘terrorists’, the attacks ‘terror’, and the motivation as ‘ideology’ rather than solely mental. The perpetrators – all subscribing to right-wing ideology – were not vindicated despite being Jewish or Christian. Beyond weakening the clash-of-civilizations notion that terrorism discourse in the West is necessarily religion- related, the findings highlight that the US press was ironically more eager than the Israeli media to ‘repair’ the image of Jewish perpetrators. The authors discuss the implications of our findings and suggest directions for future studies of biases in terrorism discourse.


Kristian Steiner

Images of Muslims and Islam in Swedish christian and secular news discourse

This article is a descriptive comparative quantitative content analysis of the construction of Islam and Muslims in 2006–2007 in four Swedish publications – the liberal newspaper Dagens Nyheter representing mainstream media, the Evangelical newspaper Dagen, the fundamentalist newspaper Världen idag representing the Christian right, and the journal SD-Kuriren, the official organ of the Sweden Democrats, a neo-nationalist party. The aim is to see where a chasm between those media that accept the presence of Muslims and Islam in Sweden, and those that do not, occurs. The results put the liberal Dagens Nyheter and the Evangelical Dagen on one side of the divide and the fundamentalist Världen idag and the neo-nationalist SD-Kuriren on the other. Världen idag and SD-Kuriren tend to describe Muslims and Islam as threatening, and ‘our’ elite as retreating. In these two media, Muslims are consistently described as aggressive and the cause of social and political problems. Finally, in both media, Muslims are related to negative behavior; good Muslim behavior is constantly disregarded, while bad behavior is assumed to reflect their true character. Världen idag also claims that Islam is incompatible with democracy. Liberal Dagens Nyheter and Evangelical Dagen avoid describing Muslims and Islam as a threat and more often seek constructive solutions to different problems. Dagens Nyheter moreover describes conflicts between Muslim and Christian actors in political, not religious, terms. Dagen also sees Muslims and Christians alike as victims of the forces of secularization.


Aimei Yang and Charles Self

Anti-Muslim prejudice in the virtual space: A case study of blog network structure and message features of the ‘Ground Zero mosque controversy’

The purpose of this study is to understand how an extremist blog advanced its perspective in the public sphere and further generated public support for prejudicial opinions against Muslims in the US. The authors utilize the case study method, hyperlink network analysis and centering resonance analysis to uncover details of the linkage and message features of the blog. The findings show that this blog developed a highly polarized network that engaged like-minded others, prominent public figures and mainstream media. Additionally, content of the blog employed cultural stereotypes that resonated deeply with public sentiments. Further, the network position and content features of the blog were not static attributions, but constantly evolved as the issue developed. Theoretical and political implications are discussed.


Jesper Falkheimer and Eva-Karin Olsson

Depoliticizing terror: the news framing of the terrorist attacks in Norway, 22 July 2011

This article analyzes how the Norwegian news media framed the terrorist attacks in Oslo and the island of Utöya, which killed 77 mainly young people on 22 July 2011. Did the news media favour or counteract the propaganda of the terrorist? After discussing earlier research about terrorism and media and presenting theories on news framing, results from a content analysis of 924 news articles in two major Norwegian newspapers during the first two weeks after the attacks are analyzed. The coverage of the attacks is found to be very descriptive, focused on the perpetrator as an individual, giving him questionable political exposure and not analyzing reasons and consequences on a political–societal level. The news framing functioned as a way of depoliticizing the terror attacks by portraying the attack as conducted by a lone lunatic in contrast to a politically motivated terrorist linked to right-wing extremism.


Daniel Binns and Paul Ryder

Re-viewing D-Day: the cinematography of the Normandy landings from the Signal corps to Saving Private Ryan

In that it privileges the grand perspective (the landscape, and the battalion arrayed in all its splendour), The Longest Day (1962) is typical of big-picture World War II films produced up until the mid-1970s. There are few close-ups, and takes are ponderously long. The focus is on grand strategy, and an attendant grand narrative; the lens offers a blow-by-blow assessment of the massive assault. Shot in 1998, Saving Private Ryan periodically echoes this perspective but reflects modalities informed by changing technologies and a hyper-mediated culture. The result is more intimate framing, punctuated by shots sometimes adapted from the source material: footage captured on Omaha Beach, 6 June 1944, by the Signal Corps cameramen. This portrayal serves two purposes: it opens the film in spectacular fashion, introduces the main characters and prefaces their mission. This article identifies and examines filmic frames from the day of the landings; from the grand narrative of The Longest Day; and from Spielberg’s confronting representation Saving Private Ryan. The aim is to show how, through the lens alone, cinematographers approximate the character of a tumultuous and terrifying day in ways that are surprisingly similar and profoundly different.

Thomas Crosbie

Scandal and military mediatization

Mediated responses to reports of abuse during the Global War on Terror are puzzling. Few of the many revelations of abuse prompted concerted reactions (e.g. scandals), and those that did were often very similar to reports that were ignored. This article draws from empirical research into responses to prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib to develop new concepts that help untangle the mediatization of American wars. Feedback helps to model the variety of polemical interventions that are adopted in public discussions as a result of a scandal. The concept of feedforward, introduced here, enables us to model polemical interventions that develop within an organization in response to such feedback. Together, these concepts encourage greater sensitivity to the cultural horizon of mediated events. Further, they point to a new theoretical focus for mediatization research, namely the cycles of feedback and feedforward that help shape new forms of understanding and behaving within organizations.


Seth Ashley

Making the case for war: A comparative analysis of cNN and BBc coverage of colin Powell’s presentation to the United Nations Security council

The normative role of journalism in democracy is well established: democracy depends on news media to facilitate self-government. But theories of the press point to structural limitations that inhibit the democratic ideal. To examine this contradiction, this article offers a comparative analysis of online news coverage by CNN and BBC of Colin Powell’s speech to the United Nations Security Council on 5 February 2003. Ethnographic content analysis is used to examine the coverage and to consider each outlet’s broad institutional context. The article concludes that structural limitations are less of a hindrance at the BBC, which is better situated to enhance rational–critical dialogue and democratic self-governance through inclusion of a greater diversity of sources and a wider array of opinion.


Carol B Schwalbe and Shannon M Dougherty

Visual coverage of the 2006 lebanon War: Framing conflict in three US news magazines

The 2006 Lebanon War presented a rare opportunity to explore how the three major US news magazines visually covered a distant conflict in which the US was not directly involved. Time, Newsweek, and U.S. News & World Report faced the challenge of how to fairly report a conflict that was dominated by one side – Israel. A quantitative content analysis revealed that the military conflict and human interest frames dominated visual coverage of the seven-week war. By emphasizing the war’s negative impact on Lebanon and its people, the news magazines provided a largely American audience with a proportional visual representation of the conflict. Only 11 percent of the images showed the injured and dead, which is consistent with other war studies. This article discusses how the news magazines visually framed the war, why images of Hezbollah and protests were rarely seen, and why many casualty images included women and children.