Issue Dec 2015; 8 (3)
The view from above (and below): A comparison of American, British, and Arab news coverage of US drones
Penelope Sheets, Charles M Rowling and Timothy M Jones
In recent years, the United States has significantly expanded its use of drone warfare. Experts are divided: some defend drones as a legal, effective way to target terrorists while others suggest drones are inaccurate and contribute to anti-Americanism. In addition, international public opinion differs starkly with Americans largely supportive of the program while publics across the globe condemn it. Suspecting news coverage might play a pivotal role in these differences, the authors explored the framing of the US drone program in American, British, and Arab news coverage. Consistent with research on social identity theory and ethnocentrism in news, they find that US coverage was more likely to frame the policy favorably – emphasizing its legality, strategic value and technological sophistication while downplaying civilian deaths – while British and, to a greater extent, Arab coverage was more critical. The authors discuss how these findings build on existing theory and explore the implications for US drone policy.
The ‘living room war’ in the escalation period: Romance, irony, and the narrative ambivalence of tragedy in Vietnam War era photojournalism
W Patrick Wade
A scholarly consensus suggests that the press largely followed public opinion in its coverage of the Vietnam War, only becoming critical after the US public turned against the conflict in Fall 1967. A similar consensus holds for photojournalists, whose work is found to be generally uncritical of the war. This scholarship offers little valuation, however, of the performance of photojournalists alongside the decline of public support for the war during its escalation from 1965 to 1967. In this article, the author reexamines this consensus through case study-based criticism of photoessays by Henri Huet, Catherine Leroy, and David Douglas Duncan, and suggests that changing conventions for the representation of US casualties could have contributed to the emergence of the climate of controversy surrounding the war. The author examines the visual narratives present in this photoessay as well as audience reactions, and argues that the ambivalent juxtaposition of romantic and ironic conventions for telling tragic stories allowed Vietnam era photojournalism to be used to support arguments on either side of the debate.
Fighting, worrying and sharing: Operation ‘Protective Edge’ as the first WhatsApp war
Vered Malka, Yaron Ariel and Ruth Avidar
This study looks at the roles that WhatsApp, the popular smartphone application, played in the lives of Israeli citizens, who were exposed to war menaces during July 2014. During the war, WhatsApp became the subject of public, media, and political discourse, especially within the context of disseminating information related to combat – ‘authentic’ news items (before they were published in the media) alongside rumors that were devoid of factual basis. Research questions focused on the ways in which citizens used the application, the attributed effects of that usage on their lives, and the possible connections between proximity of residence to combat areas, patterns of usage, and perceived implications. The authors’ findings suggest that WhatsApp played a central multi-functional role in the lives of its users during the wartime, functioning as a mass as well as interpersonal communication channel.
Bad news from Fallujah
This study uses the thematic analysis developed by the Glasgow University Media Group to explore how the US, UK and German national press covered the US/Coalition assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in November 2004. The study relies on quantitative and qualitative full text content analyses to assess 428 news, editorial and commentary items. The article suggests that, while government and military officials of the US/Coalition had argued the military ‘operation’ was necessary to secure Iraq and defeat an ‘insurgency’, organisations and actors from Iraqi society refer to the ‘operation’ as ‘collective punishment’ and a ‘massacre’ that targeted the Iraqi population. The article investigates how the press represented each of these perspectives. The findings suggest that the press overemphasised the US/Coalition perspective despite striking counter evidence. Critical aspects of coverage largely focused on tactical elements of the military dimension of the event. The article concludes that such findings are in accord with hegemonic models of media performance.
Patriotism on the internet: Journalists’ behavior and user comments
Avshalom Ginosar and Igor Konovalov
While a patriotic tendency in traditional journalism has been intensively investigated, there is much less evidence and fewer analyses of the phenomenon regarding online journalism. In this research, three main indicators of patriotic journalism are addressed: adopting governmental framing, expressing solidarity with the community, and ignoring the enemy’s narratives and positions. These indicators are investigated while analyzing online coverage of a confrontation between Israel and Hamas. A total of 192 online news items on three Israeli news websites were analyzed, in addition to 8344 user comments. The findings reveal that journalists behaved in a patriotic manner like their counterparts from the traditional media. However, users thought it was not patriotic enough. The authors argue that while patriotic behavior in traditional journalism has been often considered as deviant from the traditional objective model of journalism, in the online interactive environment, patriotic coverage of national conflicts might be seen as a natural part of the journalistic work.
Journalism and Eyewitness Images: Digital Media, Participation, and Conflict
Reviewed by Valerie Belair-Gagnon
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