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British news media, war and theory in the 2003 invasion of Iraq

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.

Evidence for negotiated and oppositional coverage
Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Katy Parry, Craig Murray, and Philip M. Taylor

6 ‘Independence, diversity and professional autonomy’: Evidence for negotiated and oppositional coverage Overview This chapter is devoted to documenting and analysing 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 begins by examining the representation of civilian casualties, military casualties and humanitarian operations

in Pockets of resistance
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Patterns of support, negotiation and opposition
Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Katy Parry, Craig Murray, and Philip M. Taylor

resistance a break from the past, driven in part by technological shifts. In particular, evidence in support of the event-driven news thesis, which came from our findings of negotiated and oppositional coverage of casualties and humanitarian operations (see Chapter 6), could be used to support the idea that new technology has increased the amount of such reportage. But it could also be the case that studies from earlier eras have simply been insensitive to these areas of news media criticism. Further comparative research is needed: by applying the framework established in

in Pockets of resistance
Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Katy Parry, Craig Murray, and Philip M. Taylor

‘first shot is fired’, the public must remain fully informed as to the progress, consequences and continued rationale for war, so that governments can be prevented from pursuing ‘immoral or unnecessary wars’ (Aday, Livingston and Hebert, 2005: 4). In order to achieve this, balanced and independent reporting is vital. The oppositional model and oppositional coverage If the idea of an independent and objective news media receives little empirical support from the field of political communication, media acting as a source of fundamental opposition to foreign policy is

in Pockets of resistance
Jessica Lynch, Ali Abbas and the anti- war movement
Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Katy Parry, Craig Murray, and Philip M. Taylor

2003: 5). Stories about Ali appeared in every newspaper we surveyed and on every television news service, generally acting as a significant vehicle for negotiated and oppositional coverage. We coded the subjects of the majority of these stories as negotiated (38%) or oppositional (36%). Only four stories (9%), all from the day on which Ali was airlifted to Kuwait, had a supportive tone. Of all media outlets we surveyed, the Mirror’s coverage far outdid that of its competitors, as Table 7.2 shows. That Ali provided a graphic illustration of the suffering and

in Pockets of resistance
Abstract only
Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Katy Parry, Craig Murray, and Philip M. Taylor

hypotheses from across the field of political communication, we aim to overcome these limitations. The framework sets out three models of wartime media performance: the elite-driven model, in which news media coverage is hypothesised to be supportive of government war aims; the independent model, where news media remain balanced towards events and produce negotiated coverage; and the oppositional model whereby news media offer a profound challenge to the legitimacy and conduct of a conflict and generate oppositional coverage. We explain these models further in Chapter 3

in Pockets of resistance
Evidence for supportive coverage and the elite-driven model
Piers Robinson, Peter Goddard, Katy Parry, Craig Murray, and Philip M. Taylor

as was just over two-thirds of the conservative Telegraph’s. At the other end of the scale, although battle reporting attracted supportive framing in just less than half of its coverage in the anti-war Mirror and Guardian, these figures were still higher than for negotiated or oppositional coverage of battle. Only at the Independent was supportive coverage displaced by negotiated coverage as the largest category. In some newspapers, supportively-framed stories of British raids were written up by embedded journalists in the heroic language of boys-own fiction. In

in Pockets of resistance