Dispatches from the front : war reporting as news genre, with special reference to news flow

Botha, Nicolene (Stellenbosch : Stellenbosch University, 2007-12)

Thesis (MPhil (Journalism))--Stellenbosch University, 2007.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: During Gulf War II, the American government implemented new media policies which, due to their potentially manipulative impact, became a subject of concern to academics, social commentators and the media alike. Key to these policies was the Department of Defense's Embedded Media Program which allowed hundreds of selected reporters to accompany US forces to the war front. The US openly tried to win international support for the war, and critics felt that this policy was designed to saturate the media with reports supporting the American point of view. This study examines these policies, the history of war reporting as a separate news genre, as well as the fluctuating relations between the US military and the media. Because of the US media policies, the fact that only one South African newspaper reporter was in Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom phase of the war and South African newspapers' consequent reliance on foreign news sources, there was a real possibility that the American position would be propagated in the local press. To test whether this was the case, the way the war was reported on in four leading South African newspapers is examined in terms of gatekeeping, agendasetting and framing. Using an adapted version op Propp's fairytale analysis as a standard, it compares the slant and content of the South African coverage to the way four senior US government officials presented the war. Also, the coverage of the newspapers is compared to one another. The analyses indicate that while most of the information published by the newspapers came from American sources, the news reports generally did not mirror the US standpoint, but instead criticised President Bush and the war on Iraq. Neither the frequency of the newspapers, nor its cultural background showed any correlation with the way the war was depicted by the different newspapers. It is therefore concluded that while the US might have been successful in their attempt to "occupy the media territory" in terms of sources cited, they were not able to sway the opinion of the South African press in their favour. However, the US is aware of these failures and plans to rectify the mistakes made in Gulf War II by means of proactive global operations started in times of peace.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Tydens die Tweede Golfoorlog het die Amerikaanse regering 'n nuwe mediabeleid ingestel wat weens die potensieel manipulerende impak daarvan ’n bron van kommer vir akademici, sosiale kommentators en die media self geword het. Sentraal tot hierdie nuwe beleid was die Departement van Verdediging se sogenaamde "Embedded Media Program" wat honderde uitgesoekte joernaliste toegelaat het om Amerikaanse magte na die oorlogsfront te vergesel. Die VSA het openlik probeer om internasionale steun vir die oorlog te werf en kritici het gevoel dat dié beleid ontwerp is om die media met nuusberigte wat die Amerikaanse standpunt steun, te versadig. Hierdie studie ondersoek dié beleid, die geskiedenis van oorlogsverslaggewing as afsonderlike nuus-genre, asook die wisselvallige verhouding tussen die Amerikaanse weermag en die media. Weens die Amerikaanse mediabeleid, die feit dat slegs een Suid-Afrikaanse koerantverslaggewer tydens die Operation Iraqi Freedom fase van die oorlog in Irak was en Suid-Afrikaanse koerante gevolglik van buitelandse nuusbronne afhanklik was, was daar 'n werklike moontlikheid dat die Amerikaanse posisie deur die plaaslike pers gepropageer kon word. Om te toets of dit die geval was, is die manier waarop in vier vooraanstaande Suid-Afrikaanse koerante oor die oorlog berig is, ondersoek in terme van hekwagterskap, agendastelling en raamskepping. Deur 'n aangepaste weergawe van Propp se feëverhaalanalise as maatstaf te gebruik, is die neiging en inhoud van die Suid- Afrikaanse dekking vergelyk met die manier waarop vier senior Amerikaanse amptenare die oorlog voorgehou het. Die koerante se dekking is ook met mekaar vergelyk. Die analises wys dat hoewel die meeste van die inligting wat deur die koerante gepubliseer is van Amerikaanse bronne kom, die nuusberigte oor die algemeen nie die Amerikaanse standpunt weerspieël nie, maar eerder krities teenoor President Bush en die oorlog teen Irak is. Nie die frekwensie van die koerante of die kulturele agtergrond daarvan het enige korrelasie getoon met die manier waarop die oorlog deur die verskillende koerante uitgebeeld is nie. Die gevolgtrekking word gemaak dat hoewel die VSA moontlik daarin geslaag het om die "mediaterrein te okkupeer" in terme van aangehaalde bronne, het hulle nie daarin geslaag om die Suid-Afrikaanse pers se opinie in hul guns te swaai nie. Die VSA is egter bewus van die foute wat tydens die Tweede Golfoorlog gemaak is en beplan om dit deur middel van proaktiewe globale operasies in vredestyd reg te stel.

Please refer to this item in SUNScholar by using the following persistent URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10019.1/916
This item appears in the following collections: