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Framing international conflicts:Media coverage of fighting in the Middle East

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Media framing of foreign conflicts determines the way in which the public and policy-makers perceive the causes, consequences and importance of those conflicts and where diplomatic and material resources are committed. Framing is manifested in, among other things, the amount of media coverage of a particular conflict and the language used to describe the actors and events in that conflict. The type of framing employed determines whether the public will empathize with one of the sides involved or feel detached from events taking place far from them. This article builds on earlier research on media framing through a study of two foreign conflicts that had a number of key similarities but were framed very differently. Framing is analysed through a comparison of New York Times coverage of army sieges of two Palestinian refugee camps: the first in the town of Jenin in theWest Bank in 2002 and the second in Nahr al-Bared in Lebanon in 2007. The research examines the depth of coverage and the language used to portray the context of events, the two armies, combatants within the camps, civilian casualties, damage to property and the effectiveness of the military operations. Analysis of differences in the reporting of these two conflicts expands on existing literature on media framing, discusses causes of inconsistent framing and elucidates the effect of framing on perceptions of reality in foreign conflict and the subsequent effect on policy-making.
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Keywords: Israel; Lebanon; Media framing; Middle East; New York Times; Palestinians; United Nations; foreign policy

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Penn State University.

Publication date: 2010-09-01

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  • The International Journal of Media and Cultural Politics is committed to analyzing the politics of communication(s) and cultural processes. It addresses cultural politics in their local, international and global dimensions, recognizing equally the importance of issues defined by their specific cultural geography and those that traverse cultures and nations.
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