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Reporting War and Terrorism
Transcript of Reporting War and Terrorism
Case Study: The War on Terrorism - 13 Years On
Influence of Media Ownership
Cross Cultural Interpretation
Public Sphere: Social Media Coverage
Good journalistic writing is driven by strong, meaningful, well-chosen finite verbs, that power sentences and give the ability to tell precisely what is happening (Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan 2015, p.335).
News writing in particular relies on powerful, straightforward nouns, such as ‘death’, ‘lie’, ‘war’, ‘prison’ and ‘murder’. News is often about harsh realities (Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan 2015, p. 335). There is no harsher reality than war.
In recent years, the main topic of discussion in the public sphere is centered around war and terrorism. Public sphere according to Hartley (1992), is not literally a sphere, it is a metaphorical representation of the term that is used to describe the interaction among people in the virtual space [Makee 2005, p. 4]. When an event, incident, accident takes place, the information gets distributed among people in many ways (eg. television, radio, social media and even word of mouth), this distribution of information in large societies constitute public sphere, "it's a term in everyday use to describe information when its made generally available to the public" [Makee 205, p. IV].
In the 21st Century we are bombarded daily with news regarding war and terrorist attacks such as (9/11 twin tower attacks, recent ISIL terror, wars in Syria, Iran, Lebanon, Iran and Iraq, Israel and Palestine etc.). This information gets circulated among the masses in society (public sphere) through many channels as mentioned previously. Remembering the 9/11 terrorist attack on the twin towers where "almost 3000 innocent people lost their lives thirteen years ago on September 11, left us to believe that people all over the world must work together in order to prevent such catastrophic events from happening again and reduce future risk" [SMH 2014].
Social media (eg, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, You Tube, Flicker etc.,) is one of the fastest means by which information gets distributed in the public sphere. Week-8 learning materials, Case study 2: "If that doesn't suit you, get out": Three minutes at the crossroads of army communication", is about how Australian Army Lieutenant David Morrison's You Tube clip addressed the acceptable and unacceptable behaviour in the Australian Army, this was the first time a high ranking official had done this and it was a turning point in the communication methods used in Australian Public Institutions [Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan 2015, pp. 181-182].
Social media coverage on war and terrorism plays a key role in the present day to dissipate information. Journalists and reporters have the technology to record and present news and information regarding all the activities with the help of social media, Jon Friedman (2013) says "sparked by the advent of Twitter, the media is having a profound effect on how we fight the war on terror in the United States". People now have the technology to receive live audio, video and pictures via social media which can warn them against the impending dangers and help them to make proper judgements to escape the evil of war and terrorism, in order to protect themselves and their family.
In this age of new technologies, people are now consuming more news than at any other time in history (Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan 2015, p. 41). Competing news corporation’s gave rise to the use of embedded journalists. However embedded journalists experience subjective viewing positions, leading to claims that this may undercut their journalistic objectivity (Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan 2015, p. 219).
This has caused many to question the integrity of embedded journalists on official placement with military units (Mangan 2003). Journalists who are not embedded or ‘unilaterals’ have limited access. For example, in Kuwait the region from Kuwait City northwards to the border - 60 miles deep and 100 wide - remains a no-go for unilaterals because of safety reasons (Mangan 2003).
Because of this bias from imbedded journalists the question arise as to whether the news is impartially relayed or more of a hegemonic push towards propaganda as, ‘Hegemony is communication designed to persuade—as is propaganda’ (Bainbridge, Goc & Tynan 2015, p.10).
Sydney Morning Herald
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The Sydney Morning Herald is known as one of Australia’s most respected newspapers, renowned for their nitty gritty reporting style and thoughtful analysis, (Bainbridge 2016). Owned by Fairfax media in Australia the Sydney Morning Herald is published six days a week and is available right across the country. Audiences have a complex relationship with the products they consume. Media producers intend audiences to read their product in a certain way, but in actual fact everyone 'reads' and enjoys a product differently due to the individual's background and lifestyle. (Media-studies 2016).
The article “The war on terrorism – 13 years on", was printed in 2014 and is tackling the issue of the global war on terrorism, and in particular ISIS. While this article is appearing to support the war on terrorism by outlining the positive steps taken by the coalition, it does not shy away from the fact that this global fight has already come at great cost to Australian life, as it reminds us of the loss of life suffered in Bali in 2002 and 2005, (SMH 2014).
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The SMH article carries similar connotations to the Australia Government (2010, pp. 5-17) White Papers that inferred that Australia was in imminent danger from terror attacks and used similar rhetoric to infer that Australian citizens posed a security threat. Michaelson (2010, pp. 263-265) informs us that of the 20 people mentioned in the White Papers as being convicted for terrorism offenses not one was convicted of a terrorist act. Sydney Morning Herald (2014) similarly denotes 20 returned jihadists under surveillance since returning to Australia as evidence that national security is under threat.
According to Schwartz (2003, p. 56) bias is created by how the news is “selected and constructed in narrative form”. The narrative in this case is crafted to an audience that SMH realise as one of their sources of income and that by their participation as Herald readers have identified themselves as consumers of mainstream news and consumers of the status quo (Bainbridge, Goc and Tynan (2015, p. 221). Tofel (2014) informs us that news media outlets respond to their mass audiences by deriving most of their news from “work previously done by others” and are only interested in the “allusion of investigative reporting”. This SMH article that speaks of the imminent dangers of home grown terrorism and the need for Australian soldiers to go to Syria to assist our American allies is stereotypical of most mainstream media narratives, and typically catering to a commercial audience whose views on reality have already been framed by previous encounters with the same media organisations.
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How News Is Created:
Reporting on War
Reporting on war has to walk the difficult line between censorship and free press, a line that is becoming increasingly blurred with the rise of social media.
Historically, hegemonic views are propagated by the largely right-wing, conservative view of the world. Which plays into the notion that the first casualty of war is truth.
A lot of our understanding on war and terrorism comes from media news. When reporting news stories, different cultures can have differing perspectives on the same story. A news report in 2008 of a bombing in Iraq war was reported by both Arab and American television networks. Their interpretations were at different ends of the scale, with the US networks reporting it as an insidious act by a “terrorist”, whereas the Arab networks reported it as a “freedom fighter” (el-Nawawy 2003, p. 1). Both using bias that applies to the audience concerned.
Australian news media fall victim to this style of reporting, allowing Western bias or stereotyping to influence its audience. This is highlighted in the case study, where the Sydney Morning Herald clearly implies all returning jihadists are a risk and that Australian’s must get involved or expect limits to their freedom (SMH 2014). Therefore perpetuating western propaganda that the intended audience’s freedom is based on stopping jihadists from returning to Australia.
Just as images allow for cross-cultural interpretation, the use of key words or labels can be used in the same manner. Schwartz (2003, p. 56) states language shapes the way a story is told and understood, the following table provides a comparison between Western and Iraq perspectives.
Even with so many different types’ of news broadcasters; each has their own stylist approach and interpretation to a particular news event, it does not mean that there are no similarities when reporting.
When comparing the US edition of CCN, Al Jazeera, British BBC and German ARD it is found that they are very similar in amounts of attention and stylistic devices used to describe and evaluate the events (Gerhards & Schafer 2014, p. 1). The table below provides a quick overview of the similarities and differences that are notable in cross-cultural interpretations of the events being reported by these broadcasters.
Image: I Want You
Image: Cinema in Iran 2012
Image: Social Media Censorship 2015
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Image: 9gag 2015
Image: Journalism and linguistic devices 2015
Libby Hopworth: How News is Created: Reporting on War.
Adam Howell (100359744): Influence of Media Ownership.
Andrew Mclean (100198633): Media Manipulation.
Dave Pushparaj (5850169): Public Sphere: Social Media Coverage
Terri Davies (589350X): Cross Cultural Interpretation and Conclusion
Similar articles published by the Sydney Morning Herald also portray a similar reporting style, for example an article written by Timothy Lynch on November 2015 regarding the Paris attacks is another example of this style of reporting (Lynch, 2015). When we examine how this article has been put together we are searching for the ideology of the media text, we are not so much interested in the specific activities shown in the article, but are focusing on the bigger picture to help the reader understand broader system of meaning.
Image: Salman 2015
For an ideological analysis, the key is the fit between the images and words in this particular text and ways of thinking about, even defining, the social and cultural issues. In this case the issue is terrorism. We can see from the illustration the image of a “terrorist” sitting back and watching the bombs fall thinking bingo, as in this is what they want.
This has been published in a way that gets the reader to assume that this is what these terrorists want, influenced by the western world and our social and cultural views on this conflict, we form our ideologies from what we as audiences see and hear in the media.
Image: Horowitz & Kane 2016
The mainstream media that most Australians rely on for accurate information on a daily basis is often accused of bias and manipulation. As recently as September 2015 Andrew Wilkie (2015), a former intelligence officer for ASIO and a current Tasmania MP told Parliament that the Australian media is being manipulated by the government, which in turn manipulates the public. According to the media analysis information outlined by Bainbridge, Goc and Tynan (2015) this article in the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH) (2014) bears evidence of being a manipulative, stereotypical, biased propaganda piece masquerading as investigative journalism.
Image: George Orwell 2013
The article is framed around the concept of ‘a never ending war against terror’ that begins with the title and continues throughout the article. Both the title ‘the war on terrorism-13 years on’ and the cartoon depicting ISIS still carrying out business as usual in a recruiting office despite worldwide opposition, signifies that terrorism is almost unstoppable.
This myth is promoted not only by other SMH articles but by most mainstream news outlets and even the Australian Government. This notion of interdependent texts supporting the same concepts are referred by Bainbridge, Goc and Tynan (2015, p. 211) as intertextuality.
Image: Moir 2014
Propaganda and news alike rely heavily on emotive language, which influence readers as “emotive words can have a noticeable impact on the audience's judgments and decisions.” (Macagno 2014). Journalists select words that carry an emotional loading and are used to make a headline that has the effect of grabbing the reader’s attention (Shostak & Gillespie 2014, p. 278). This tactic is used because “emotive words can be used as instruments for crafting emotional descriptions and representations aimed at arousing emotive reactions” (Macagno 2014).
In reading the case study, the text tries to provide an objective view by debating both sides, even though it is clear that it is written for its audience. This text reflects the audience’s western preferences and ideologies of freedom and choice.
The text could be seen as subjective or bias due to its audience, yet it is more likely to have been influenced by imbedded journalism, propaganda or even the influence of media ownership.
The implications of social media means that it is available to the public sphere almost instantaneously, not just its intended audience. Allowing for cross cultural interpretation and a different interpretation than intended.
In a country which is one of the most culturally diverse in the world, terrorism needs to reported impartially and objectivity for all audiences.
Image: Brzezinski 2016
Image: Social media war and terrorism (a)
Image: Social media war and terrorism (a)
Image: Social media war and terrorism
Image: SMH Instagram Logo 2016
Image: flickr 2016
Image: Spot the Leader 2016
Image: Singh & Dwived 2011
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