September 11, 2001 : framing the attacks in America's press

Pelser, Waldimar (2002-12)

Thesis (MPhil)--University of Stellenbosch, 2002.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The attacks on New York and Washington on September 11 2001 constituted a singular media event. On the front pages of America's newspapers and in its pre-eminent news magazines unfolded, in the immediate wake of the blitz, a portrayal that uncontroversially legitimised claims to American innocence, fomented moral certitude through parallels with previous wars and anticipated retaliation that would soon enough engulf Afghanistan. Showing, first, that accounts of reality are always social constructions, the "framing" of September 11 in America's press will be evaluated with reference to 122 newspaper front pages, most from September 12, some from the day of the attacks, and two American news magazines. The emergence of a discourse of war will be considered, as well as the perpetuation within and without of the press of dominant views on America's role in the conflict. The extent to which this "popular frame" selectively excluded inconvenient truths is illustrated in critiques of john Pilger and Noam Chomsky, and an assessment of the politics of defining "terror". The analysis is placed within the normative framework of orthodox joumalism ethics, particularly the values of impartiality and objectivity, concluding that, in democracy, a responsible media better serves the public interest through sustained criticism than compliant patriotism.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die aanvalle op New York en Washington op 11 September 2001 was 'n uitsonderlike mediagebeurtenis. Direk daarna het 'n uitbeelding op die voorblaaie van Amerika se koerante en in twee voorste nuustydskrifte ontvou wat aansprake op Amerikaanse onskuld sonder omhaal sou legitimeer, parallelle met vorige oorloë in die diens van morele daadkragtigheid sou oproep, en wraakaanvalle sou antisipeer wat kort daarna in Afghanistan sou woed. Met as vertrekpunt die argument dat enige weergawe van realiteit 'n sosiale konstruksie is, word die uitbeelding ("framing") van die aanvalle in die Amerikaanse pers op 122 koerantvoorblaaie, hoofsaaklik van 12 September maar insluitend enkeles van die aanvalsdag self, en in twee Amerikaanse nuustydskrifte hier geevalueer. Die ontluiking van 'n oorlogsdiskoers word bekyk, asook die voortsetting binne en buite die media van heersende sienings oor Amerika se rol in die konflik. Die mate waarin hierdie "populêre omraming" ("framing") ongemaklike waarhede selektief uitgesluit het, word aangetoon in critiques van John Pilger en Noam Chomsky, en 'n oorweging van die politiek agter 'n definisie van "terreur". Die analise voltrek in die normatiewe raamwerk van joernalistieke etiek, veral die waardes van onpartydigheid en objektiviteit, en kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat, in demokrasie, 'n verantwoordelike media die openbare belang beter dien deur volgehou kritiek as deur onderdanige patriotisme.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/53051
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