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Oxygen of publicity and the suffocation of censorship: British newspaper representations of the broadcasting ban (1988-1994)

Pettigrew, Max 2011. Oxygen of publicity and the suffocation of censorship: British newspaper representations of the broadcasting ban (1988-1994). PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.

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Abstract

This thesis analyses British newspaper representations of the broadcasting ban during the periods the British government introduced and lifted it in 1988 and 1994. The orthodox position promoted by terrorism 'experts' in academia is critiqued for its propagandists approach to the political violence of state and non-state combatants and its legacy of normalising media censorship. It is argued here that the position of orthodox scholars on the mass media and 'terrorism' is ultimately designed to encourage and legitimise pressure against the mass media during conflicts so as to increase state dominance of public perceptions. By suggesting the problem is the 'oxygen of publicity', it follows that the solution is the suffocation of censorship. The role of journalists in the propaganda war during the Northern Ireland conflict is scrutinised in this thesis to discover the extent to which media workers in the British print media supported and resisted British government direct censorship against the British broadcast media. Combining content analysis and critical discourse analysis (CDA), journalistic constructions of the broadcasting ban in British newspaper articles are explored quantitatively and qualitatively. British newspaper articles representing the Northern Ireland conflict during the periods when the British government introduced and lifted the ban are analysed to reveal the newsworthiness of the broadcasting ban in both periods. The discursive composition of broadcasting ban newspaper articles is also analysed to reveal the discourses supporting and opposing the censorship that were circulating in the House of Commons as well as British newspapers and non-elite spheres of society when the British government introduced and lifted the broadcasting ban. A combination of textual analysis techniques are used to explain how these discourses functioned to build support and opposition to the ban, how journalists represented social actors expressing these discourses and how they were refracted by journalists through reported speech. After analysing British newspaper representations of the broadcasting ban, discursive and social practices impacting British journalists during the periods the British government introduced and lifted the ban are considered. An important conclusion of this thesis is that British journalists largely perpetuated discourses supporting the broadcasting ban. However, this is explained by the allegiances of newspaper owners and editors with the Conservative Party, the generic conventions of newspapers and articles, the reliance of journalists on elite sources, the weakness of media workers after Wapping and the decades of pressure on media workers to report the Northern Ireland conflict in line with the British government perspective, rather than because journalists embraced British government censorship of the British broadcast media.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Journalism, Media and Culture
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
ISBN: 9781303196638
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:30
URI: http://orca.cardiff.ac.uk/id/eprint/54474

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