Issue August 2011; 4 (2)

mwc coverARTICLES

Lauren Kogen and Monroe E Price
Deflecting the CNN effect: public opinion polling and Livingstonian outcomes

Can the analysis and dissemination of public opinion polling be organized in such a way as to shift public debate and help reframe an issue that has been strongly influenced by CNN-like mediated activities? Drawing upon polling experience in Darfur, the authors examine this question in the highly disputed context of international conflicts, an area where CNN effects are manifest. They argue that government-sponsored polls can become part of official reactions to the CNN effect in three primary ways: first, deflecting the CNN effect by re-framing narratives and policy options; second, trumping the CNN effect by returning to a form of evidence-based policy making in which research, rather than media pressure, dictates decision making; and third, circumventing the CNN effect by engaging in improved approaches to conflict resolution.

Jason Dittmer and David A Parr
Mediating sovereignty: a comparative latent semantic analysis of US newspapers and conflicts in Kosovo and South Ossetia

This article addresses the role of news media in mediating and legitimating sovereignty claims within the nation-state system. Given the performativity of sovereignty claims, the speech acts of political actors require mediation in order to achieve their intent. This mediation occurs through formal channels but requires dissemination via popular media to permeate the public consciousness. Journalistic practices play a key role in the degree to which sovereignty claims are narrated. The authors compare the ways in which US newspapers legitimated (or undermined) sovereignty claims by Kosovo and South Ossetia during their respective conflicts. Their research uses latent semantic analysis to reveal narrative emplotments of various actors in each conflict. The results indicate that, despite the potential to be narrated in similar ways, the Kosovo conflict was narrated as a humanitarian intervention, while the Russian intervention in South Ossetia was narrated as an imperialist intervention linked to larger geopolitical competition.

Todd Schack
Twenty-first-century drug warriors: the press, privateers and the for-profit waging of the war on drugs

The privatization of war-making — especially in regard to the waging of the war on terror — is well documented, but there are other emerging markets for the burgeoning ‘private security industry’. In fact, the war on drugs represents one of the most potentially lucrative market opportunities for what has been called the ‘narco-carceral complex’, an industry that is uniquely positioned to profit from the drug war, and is financially self-interested in the perpetuation of this war. This is consistent with the ‘disaster capitalism complex’, itself an extension of Eisenhower’s ‘militaryindustrial complex’. Add to this the sociological notion of ‘moral panic’, especially concerning the role of the press and the promotion of fear as a useful tool in the overall militarized response to the ‘crisis’, and there exists a situation that has potentially disastrous consequences for those who are not standing to gain by the perpetuation of the wars on terror and drugs as for-profit endeavors.

Justin Lewis and Joanne Hunt
Press coverage of the UK military budget: 1987 to 2009

The UK is one of the world’s largest military powers, enjoying consistent spending increases over the last decade. However, in recent years there has been much discussion about whether the UK armed forces are sufficiently well-resourced. Others have asked why, with no clear threat of invasion, the UK spends so much on its military. The authors examine how press coverage has informed public discussion about UK military spending over the last two decades. Using a ‘discursive’ content analysis, they explore the nature of the information and assumptions used in 22 years of reporting in The Times and The Guardian. Their findings suggest that, especially in the last decade, press coverage relying on business, political and military elites has played down increases in military spending, creating the misleading impression that the UK military is under-resourced.

Annelore Deprez and Karin Raeymaeckers
Bottlenecks in the coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict: the coverage of the first and second intifada in the Flemish press

Various authors suggest that the public’s knowledge of the Israeli—Palestinian conflict is inadequate. As it is generally accepted that public opinion on international news items is mainly formed by media content, the international media are often held responsible for sustaining the prevailing misconceptions about the Israeli—Palestinian conflict by covering the conflict parties in a biased and imbalanced way. This study focuses on the representation of Israelis and Palestinians in the news coverage of the first and second intifada by the Flemish press. By way of a content analysis, evolutions and discrepancies in the coverage of both intifadas are described in a longitudinal analytical perspective. The authors conclude that the portrayal of the Palestinian actors shifts from a rather positive view during the first intifada period to a more critical portrayal during the period of the second intifada. At the same time, there is an opposite move in the representation of the Israeli actors in the conflict. Although our results show differences in the distinct portrayals, they do not provide sufficient evidence to conclude unequivocally that the coverage of the first and second intifada is unbalanced. Indeed, the authors find that while some variables definitely favour the Israeli point of view (e.g. the use of sources), others clearly sustain the Palestinian side (e.g. the individualization of victims). In other words, the Flemish dailies cover the first and second intifada in quite a balanced way, contrary to what international studies on the coverage of the Israeli—Palestinian conflict have concluded regarding the media in different national settings.


Adi Kuntsman
 Review: Elisabeth Eide, Risto Kunelius and Angela Phillips (eds) Transnational Media Events: The Mohammed Cartoons and the Imagined Clash of Civilizations (Research Anthologies and Monographs) Gothenburg: Nordicom, 2008. 290 pp. ISBN 978 91 89471641

Noha Mellor
Review: Mediated spaces: Paul C Adams Geographies of Media and Communication: A Critical Introduction Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell, 2009. 288 pp. ISBN 978 1405154147

Hannah Bradby and Gillian Lewando Hundt (eds) Global Perspectives on War, Gender and Health: The Sociology and Anthropology of Suffering London: Ashgate, 2010. 178 pp. ISBN 978 0754675235

Daniel Lieberfeld
Review: Film review: The Tillman Story Director: Amir Bar-Lev, 2010. 95 min