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Media strategies and coverage of international conflicts : The 2003 Iraq War and Al-Jazeera

Bessaiso, Ehab Yassir 2010. Media strategies and coverage of international conflicts : The 2003 Iraq War and Al-Jazeera. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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In 2003 the United States of America led an international coalition to topple Saddam Hussein's regime in Iraq. The war on Iraq followed the war launched on Afghanistan in 2001, designed to topple the Taliban regime. In both conflicts a wide range of media strategies were implemented by the Coalition forces to sway domestic and international public opinion and to construct support for the US-led military campaigns. This research explores the media strategies implemented in the 2003 Iraq war and the policies of coverage that were used to report the conflict by the Al-Jazeera satellite channel. The major research question is to ask what developments took place in wartime media strategies during these conflicts and to investigate the way media conditions changed, especially around the rise of Al-Jazeera, and the role it played in covering the war. In order to answer these questions, it was essential to review conflicts of a similar nature, such as the 1956 Suez Canal war, the 1991 Gulf war, the 1999 Kosovo war and the 2001 war in Afghanistan. The thesis argues that the toppling of regimes was a [text unavailable] conflicts, and thus, that media strategies and techniques followed similar patterns in each case. Lessons from these conflicts had considerable impact on the 2003 Iraq war. Media strategies in this conflict were a product of lessons from previous experiences, the outcome of remarkable developments in communications technologies, and a result of the increasingly complex influence of political, economic and social factors on the way modern conflicts are mediatized. In this thesis the mediatisation of conflicts is the research thematic approach which is used to make sense of the role of these various complex factors in the production of media output. The overlapping of these factors contributes to the presentation and the perception of modern conflicts. In the case of the 2003 Iraq war, Al-Jazeera and other Arab satellite channels expanded the news agenda to include an alternative perspective to the western mainstream media. This thesis argues that this was a major development which had a critical effect on the flow of information, and radically challenged existing mainstream news management policies. Thus, studying Al-Jazeera in relation to the coverage of the 2003 Iraq war became a crucial element in understanding the changes in the way contemporary conflicts are communicated and reported, which is the central focus of this research. A triangulation of qualitative research methods has been applied to examine the issues this thesis is critically assessing. Documentary research, including on-line research, was used to explore media strategies during the 2003 Iraq war and to establish the patterns within these. The same method was applied to explore Al-Jazeera's policies of coverage. In addition, the research used in-depth interviews and an ethnographic approach, spending time for example in Al-Jazeera's newsrooms, in order to answer the main research question. This was to assess the challenges Al-Jazeera, as an Arab news provider, posed to US policies of information control and news management during the conflicts discussed above, and how, as a result, the emergence of a new mediascape in the Arab world came to challenge policy makers, media strategists and media organisations alike.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN1990 Broadcasting
ISBN: 9781303195600
Funders: School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 09 Jan 2018 21:07

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