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This book analyses British news media coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It describes the analytical framework that serves as the basis for theoretically informed and systematic analysis of wartime media performance. The book synthesises a range of models, hypotheses and explanatory variables to set out a framework composed of three models of news media performance: the elite-driven model, the independent model and the oppositional model. It provides three case studies which, in different ways, illuminate each model of news media performance in wartime. The three case studies include the case of Jessica Lynch, the case of Ali Abbas and the case of the anti-war movement. The book then presents an account of how the relationship between foreign policy, news media and war might be expected to operate, based on current theoretical understanding. In order to place British coverage of the invasion in context, the book offers brief summaries of the structure and character of Britain's television news services and its press. The book provides an analysis of the ways in which the news media's visual depictions of the war reinforced supportive coverage. It is devoted to documenting and analysing evidence for negotiated and oppositional coverage. The book also examines the representation of civilian casualties, military casualties and humanitarian operations across both television and press, three subject areas that generated a good deal of media criticism.
This introduction presents an overview of the key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book focuses on British news media coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It demonstrates some of the key literature that focuses on news media and war is under-theorised and employs inadequate methodologies. The book describes the form and content of news media coverage associated with each of them and detailing the explanatory factors invoked by earlier scholars to account for them. It introduces broad debates that have emerged since the late 1980s regarding the impact of ideology, new technology and media management. The book also describes the findings in relation to the explanatory factors associated with the independent and oppositional models. It presents synthesis of the results of empirical analysis and discusses their implications for a theoretical understanding of wartime media-state relations.
This chapter examines the study of news media and war, moving on to review key works that have analysed, in a systematic fashion, the content and framing of wartime news media coverage. Beginning with Vietnam, these systematic studies include work on the 1982 Falklands conflict, the 1992 Gulf War, and the 2003 Iraq War. During the Falklands conflict in 1982, the British government demonstrated the utility of placing journalists alongside combatants as a means to foster sympathetic reporting. The chapter outlines the various debates concerning the impact on media-state relations of the passing of the cold war, the introduction of new communications technology and intensified government media-management activities. The analysis of media management includes an overview of coalition media operations during the 2003 Iraq War. The chapter concludes by setting out the case for a theoretically grounded, normatively engaged and methodologically rigorous approach to studying news media and war.
This chapter describes the analytical framework that serves as the basis for our theoretically informed and systematic analysis of wartime media performance. It synthesises a range of hypotheses and explanatory variables to set out a framework composed of three models of news media performance: the elite-driven model, the independent model and the oppositional model. The chapter describes the explanatory and descriptive aspects of each of these models, and discusses their normative basis. It explores how the relationship between foreign policy, news media and war might be expected to operate, based on current theoretical understanding. The chapter aims to operationalise analytical framework. It describes the methodology that was developed in order to implement it. The framework is able to engage explicitly with normative questions about how news media should report on war.
In order to place British coverage of the invasion in context, this chapter offers brief summaries of the structure and character of Britain's television news services and its press. It describes key events in the run-up to the invasion, its main combat phase and its aftermath. British television is founded on the notion of public service broadcasting, in which news is seen as a crucial democratic resource for citizenship, with its reliability underpinned by a robust system of regulation. With Britain's newspapers drawing readers from across the class spectrum, an important competitive factor in the structure of the British press is market stratification. The invasion of Iraq on 21 March 2003, codenamed Operation Iraqi Freedom in the USA and Operation Telic in the UK, represented the end of a remarkable period of domestic and global debate and controversy.
This chapter focuses on the evidence emerging from authors study for the supportive coverage predicted by the elite-driven model. In many ways, British news media coverage of the Iraq invasion conformed to the predictions of the elite-driven model. Press and television news relied heavily on coalition sources and supportive battle coverage prevailed even among newspapers that had opted to oppose the war. The chapter provides an analysis of the ways in which the news media's visual depictions of the war reinforced supportive coverage. It highlights some of the most common types of images through which the war was visualised and considers the extent to which the selection of visuals contributed to the supportive approach to coverage. The chapter discusses some of the evidence that emerges for the three key explanatory factors (sources, patriotism and ideology) commonly associated with supportive news media coverage and the elite-driven model.
This chapter analyses evidence for negotiated and oppositional coverage. This is done in three ways: first, by examining critical coverage that emerged across specific subject areas; second, by describing patterns of coverage in particular media outlets; and third, by presenting time series data. The chapter examines the representation of civilian casualties, military casualties and humanitarian operations across both television and press. It considers specific media outlets, starting with an examination of Channel 4 News which departed from the pattern set by other television news programmes in adopting a largely negotiated stance in its coverage of the war. The influence of professional autonomy on reporting is clearly indicated in the coverage provided by Channel 4 News. The chapter explores authors evidence, which included the emergence of an unprecedented and surprisingly vociferous anti-war press and differential use of visuals.
This chapter analysis three case studies, which serve to represent the three differing modes of news media performance in wartime, as well as shedding more light on the news-making process. The Jessica Lynch case study, involving the 'dramatic' rescue of a US 'prisoner of war', highlights how compliant and deferential news media can be in wartime and can be viewed as an 'ideal type' example of supportive coverage. The case of Ali Abbas, an Iraqi child maimed in a coalition strike, provides a poignant illustration of the opportunities for more negotiated and oppositional reporting in wartime. The chapter presents an analysis of how effectively the anti-war movement maintained positive news media representation during the invasion helps to delineate the 'outer limits' of political dissent when British troops are in action.
This conclusion presents some closing thoughts on the concepts discussed in the preceding chapters of this book. The book concerning government sources and media-management operations, the impact of new technology, ideological shifts since the end of the cold war and theoretical debates concerning media-state relations. It considers key research questions which should be pursued in conducting analyses of different stages of the Iraq conflict. The 2003 invasion of Iraq can be considered a relatively hard case (or critical case) for the elite-driven model because of the unprecedented levels of political and popular dissent surrounding the conflict. The book shows lower levels of supportive and more oppositional and negotiated coverage before and after the invasion phase. It also shows that the British news media largely reinforced the weapons of mass destruction (WMD) rationale for war during the invasion phase.