It has been more than 15 years since satellite news network Al-Jazeera burst on to themedia scene in the Middle East, replacing western perspectives with indigenous ones. Now, Al-Jazeera provides news feeds all over the world, has more foreign bureaus thanany other television network, has arrived in Europe, Canada and the United States as acompetitive broadcaster, and become a player in the politics of its own region.Al-Arabiya, broadcast out of Dubai but owned by a Saudi corporation, has been Al-Jazeera’s main competitor in the region since it began broadcasting in 2003.How do these two regional networks differ? Specifically, how do they differ over cov-erage of one of the most intractable and important problems of their own region: theIsraeli-Palestinian dispute?This study is designed to shed light on these questions. The study – a comparativecontent analysis of Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya coverage of the Israel–Palestine conflictduring the 2008/2009 invasion of Gaza and one year later, during a period of relativecalm – will add empirical findings to the growing bodies of literature on Al-Jazeera and Al-Arabiya, respectively, and help show how two powerful Arab news networks covered the Israel–Palestine conflict at two different points in time.This study follows a tradition of research into news coverage of the Israel–Palestinianconflict. Most of these studies have analyzed American and other western reportage and concluded that coverage is slanted heavily in favor of Israeli perspectives. A separatethread of research – more relevant to our proposed study, but much smaller in size – hasexamined Arab news coverage of the conflict. In contrast to research about westernnews, this research has found that Arab news media have advanced Palestinian perspec-tives and discounted or muted Israeli voices (see Literature review to follow).The body of literature on Arab news coverage of Israel–Palestine, however, has lacked conceptualgroundinganddonelittletoexplainthenatureofspecificnewsframesembedded within Arab news coverage of the Israel–Palestine conflict. This study, conceptuallygrounded in media framing theory, empirically examines specific aspects of news framingof the Israel–Palestine dispute. Prominence, sourcing, keywords, images of grief, persona-lization, and direction are analyzed quantitatively to show how Al-Jazeera and Al-ArabiyacoveredtheIsrael–Palestineconflictbothduringacrisisperiodandaperiodofrelativecalm.
A gooddealofscholarlyliterature about Arabpress environments has beenproduced,withmostresearchnotingthatmostArabgovernmentshavehistoricallyusedpresslaws,licenselaws, penal codes, political ideology, and brute intimidation to ensure content conforms togovernmentinterests(Elmasry,2011,2012;Mellor,2005,2007;Rugh,2004;Sakr,2001a).Government ownership continues to be the dominant ownership structure in most of the Arab region, but more independent and opposition news outlets have appeared over the past 10–15 years as media reforms have brought increased freedoms to some Arabcountries (see Ayish, 2002; Cooper, 2008; Elmasry, 2012; Hafez, 2002; Mellor, 2005).A major change in the Arab press environment occurred in 1991, at the time of thefirst Gulf War. At that time, Arabs were exposed en masse to American satellite news
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