Media coverage of war
EXAMPLE 1 FRAMING
"Do you think the Iraq war
can be won?"
(Gavin Esler, Newsnight, BBC2,
Esler (a BBC news presenter) asked this question in a Newsnight
studio debate, following Republican losses in mid-term US
elections. It illustrates how the BBC often frames
the invasion of Iraq. The framing implies that the "success"
(or failure) of the Iraq war remains to be decided.
An alternative question (eg "can the killing be stopped?")
would frame the issue in a way that implies the Iraq invasion
is already known to be a catastrophe.
Esler provided another good
example of framing in August 2004, when UK
politician Adam Price launched a campaign to impeach Tony
Blair for misleading the country over Iraq (http://impeachblair.org).
In a BBC Newsnight interview with Price, presenter
Esler seemed determined to dismiss the evidence against Blair
as "political differences":
"...You're trying to criminalise
political differences we've gone over this endlessly
on the programme... we know the political differences."
[Esler on Newsnight, 25/8/04]
The evidence against Blair remains to be judged by a genuinely
independent inquiry (not one conducted by sympathetic establishment
figures appointed by Blair). Esler's framing of this evidence
as "political differences" excludes the possibility
that Blair may be found guilty based on evidence.
EXAMPLE 2 SIMPLE DELETION
BBC1's coverage of Donald Rumsfeld's resignation (BBC1
10 O'Clock news) stated that Rumsfeld was:
"Hailed as a visionary"
It didn't say by whom. This is an example of a type
of semantic distortion known as "simple deletion".
The identity of the person/group expressing the viewpoint
is deleted/excluded. We're left with the default impression
that the opinion is somehow a consensual, official or authoritative
judgement, when it might just be an opinion expressed by one
of Rumsfeld's friends (or, more likely, from a press release
put out by Rumsfeld's PR team). For more on simple deletions,
see: Types of semantic propaganda.
Note: this section is incomplete
more to come soon.