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Class, nationalism and news: The BBC's reporting of Hugo Chavez and the Bolivarian revolution

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This article analyses BBC News Online's reporting of the Bolivarian revolution in Venezuela, using a sample from a broader selection of 304 articles published on BBC News Online between 1998 and 2008. Against the BBC's stated commitment to professional values, we find that the BBC's organizational culture is underpinned by a liberal nationalist worldview, which limits its interpretive capacities. The analysis notes that the liberal nationalism underpinning BBC News Online's reporting limits the interpretive capacities of journalists. The ideologically dominant national history of Venezuela (the exceptionalism thesis) forms an interpretive framework, which synchs with the BBC's general conceptualization of the forms and function of a nation state and thus prevents adequate understanding of the present. Consequently, the coverage of contemporary Venezuelan politics masks the underlying class conflict, instead identifying Chavez, who has emerged seemingly from nowhere, as the key agent of political crisis. The BBC's reliance on a narrative of the disruption of national unity allows it to take sides in the conflict whilst apparently remaining neutral.
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Keywords: BBC; Chavez; Venezuela; ideology; liberal nationalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of the West of England

Publication date: December 20, 2011

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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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