A Comparative Media Analysis of Television Newscasts from Nine

Countries during the Initial 2003 Invasion of Iraq (Operation Iraqi
By Brent M. Eastwood, PhD
If you are interested in how the media affects perceptions of warfare, this paper is
for you. I first did an exhaustive literature review on media and warfare. Then I acquired
recordings of broadcast television news programs from nine different countries for 30
days of coverage during the 2003 invasion of Iraq. There are descriptions of television
broadcasts from nine countries including U.S, U.K., Germany, France, Russia, China,
Iraq, Iran, Qatar. I did an initial content analysis of television news from France, Russia,
China, Iraq, Iran, and al Jazeera (Qatar). This was the preliminary report, but it is
definitely a departure for more research in this area.

Research Question
I am investigating the extent to which television news drives/changes
governmental policy during times of war. I’ll also examine the extent to which wartime
television news conforms/ transmits the policy from government elites or executives.
Does TV news push, or is it pulled by governmental policy in wartime?

Review of the Literature
During times of war or other international crises, the question of the media
“pushing” a particular policy or the media being “pulled” in one way or another by
policymakers is an issue that has seen extensive debate in recent years. Piers Robinson
(2001) examines the contrasting theories on the relationship between the media and
international affairs. The ‘CNN effect’ or the degree in which the media drives policy
has been studied in humanitarian intervention cases such as Somalia and Bosnia/Kosovo

(Cohen, 1994), and there is evidence politicians are sensitive to media response as they
shape policy during humanitarian intervention (Blair, 1999; Holbrooke, 1999).
Findings on the CNN effect are disputed by some, although policy makers claim
the media has an enormous impact on their response to crises (Robinson, 2001). Another
theory answers the claim that the media pushes policy. The “manufactures consent”
theory strives to minimize claims that the media drives policy. Robinson, (2001, 524)
writes, “The media functions primarily to mobilize support for the policy preferences of
dominant elites (Chomsky and Herman, 1988; Hammond and Herman, 2000; Herman
1993). Researchers such as Chomsky and Herman (1988) place more emphasis on the
elites of the executive branch and examine “the extent to which news media content
conforms to the agendas and frames” (Robinson, 2001, 525) of those executive elites.
The “elite” version of the manufacturing consent theory says that elites in all walks of
political life (not just the executives) can influence the media and that the media will
ultimately conform to their policy preferences. Hallin (1986) makes this claim in his
comprehensive look at Vietnam War coverage, and maintains that “critical news
coverage on the war occurred only after sections of the Washington political elite turned
against the war (Robinson, 2001, 526).
Robinson (2001) develops and defines other theories which advance the notion of
how the media can influence policy formulation. “Framing” is the idea of the media
“taking sides” in a debate. It refers to the “specific properties of…a narrative that
encourages those perceiving and thinking about events to develop particular
understandings of them (Entman, 1991: 7). In other words, as Robinson (2001) points

out, the media sometimes not only reports reality, but communicates a particular
understanding of an issue or problem.
But just because a media outlet takes sides in a debate, the particular framing that
is transmitted may not be enough to influence the policy process. Whether policy makers
are in agreement or in consensus, and the degree of certainty in their policy is linked to
how the media shapes political outcomes. Robinson (2001) explains how CNN effect
research (Gowing, 1994; Strobel, 1997; Shaw, 1996; Minear et al., 1997) finds the level
of policy certainty or uncertainty had direct impact on whether media coverage can
influence the policy making process. UN Secretary General Kofi Annan commented on
the media and policy uncertainty (Gowing, 1994, 85-6) “When governments have a clear
policy…then television has little impact …When there is a problem, and the policy has
not been thought through…they have to do something or face a public relations disaster”
Robinson (2001, 533).

Warren Strobel (1997: 219) finds television to be reflective of

this policy certainty or uncertainty, “the effect of real-time television is directly related to
the…coherence…of existing policy” (Robinson (2001, 533).
With a clearer understanding of framing and policy uncertainty, it is possible to
add another theory into the paradigm. The “policy-interaction model” is defined by the
possibility of journalists becoming “promoters, either consciously or otherwise, of one
particular elite group (Robinson 2001, 535). This sets up the context of negative
publicity and “bad press.” In the policy-interaction model, public opinion may be
influenced, government image may be damaged, and elites may begin to question
existing government policy (Robinson, 2001, 535). In this model, the media participates
and takes sides in the debate and the coverage is actively and critically framed.

The policy-media interaction model has different levels of elite consensus and
they correspond to particular media-state relationships. When there is elite consensus on
policy, the media operates within a “sphere of consensus,” (Hallin, 1986). When there is
elite dissensus, the media operates within “the sphere of legitimate controversy,” (Hallin,
1986). When there is elite dissensus, plus policy uncertainty, and critically framed media
coverage, the media takes sides in the debate and becomes an active participant
(Robinson 2001). Public opinion may be affected by the negative press and elites are
likely to speak out, which adds more to the controversy.
The policy-media interaction model combines lessons learned from the
manufacturers consent model, adds theories on framing and policy uncertainty, and
succeeds in shedding more light on what particular conditions in which the media
influences policy. The political contest model, (Wolfsfield, 1997), strikes a connection
among the news media and more disparate groups who “challenge authority” and “strive
for political change” (Robinson, 2001, 539). Sometimes, (Wolfsfield, 1997), these
marginalized groups or “challengers” protest and affect political change by setting the
agenda (Robinson, 2001) and getting their message transmitted by the media. The media
can then frame the protests from these challengers and actually takes sides, along the
lines of the policy-interaction model (Robinson, 2001).
In addition to framing, other theorists maintain that the media also sets the agenda
for policy makers (Genest, 1995) As Cohen (1963, 13) says, “The press may not be
successful much of the time in telling people what to think, but it is stunningly successful
in telling readers what to think about.” Neuman (1996) concludes that policy makers
allow the media to take over the agenda-setting role. In the case of Somalia, “Clinton

allowed the pictures to dominate. It is not inevitable, or even desirable, that leaders cede
this power to television. It is also not the fault of television” (Neuman, 1996, 21)
It should be clear at this point, that there are many theories at work to explain the
question—does the media drive policy or does policy pull the media. But what are the
major policy issues that are most affected by this question? In which policy choice is the
media most salient? Some have argued that the question of warfare is the ultimate policy
choice which faces governments. Much literature has been devoted to answering the
question of why wars occur. Morgan (1990) outlines the basic criticism of research on
the causes of war. He calls for a “new conceptualization of war—that is, a more
conscious effort regarding how to think about the phenomenon is necessary before we
understand and assimilate research findings (Most and Starr, 1982, 834).
Morgan (1990) borrows heavily from Clausewitz in arriving at a definition of
war. Since war is not an “independent thing,” and that it is part of the “political
intercourse,” “an understanding of war cannot be based solely on a definition of war,
which can only isolate the set of wars from the set of nonwars. Rather it is necessary to
appreciate conceptually how war fits into a broader context” (Morgan, 1990, 419).
Morgan breaks down the literature of war definitions into two camps—the case
for war as bargaining and the case for war as force (Morgan, 1990). Scholars such as
Schelling (1966) and Kissinger (1957) argue that a limited form of war will eventually
lead to a settlement or agreement between the two parties (Morgan, 1990). He writes,
“According to this conceptualization, war is an instrument of, and inseparable from,
bargaining” (Morgan, 1990, 424). The opposing view of war sees force as the prime
means of achieving a political outcome. Or war may be fought as bargaining or as force,

as Clausewitz writes,” War can be of two kinds…to overthrow the enemy—to render him
politically helpless or militarily impotent, thus forcing him to sign whatever peace we
please, or merely to occupy some of his frontier districts so that we can annex them or
use them for bargaining at the peace negotiations” (Morgan, 1990, 429).
The different viewpoints on the conceptualization of war are important because
policy makers wrestle with these notions as they attempt to shape policy, set agendas and
transmit their intentions in the media. This is where disconnect occurs—policy
uncertainty, elite dissensus, framing, agenda setting, manufactures consent, and policy
media-interaction arise from competing concepts of how war is defined. Disparate
concepts of war give rise to the push-pull theories of the media shaping policy.
The concept of casualties in warfare is an excellent example of this type of
disconnect in the conceptualization of war, as explained by opinion data collected by
Byman and Waxman (2002,) in a review by Brown (2002, 453), “The data indicate that
support for coercive operations is likely to erode as casualties rise, particularly when vital
interests are not at stake, when the public views victory as unlikely, and when the nonadministration elite do not support the policy.” Further study in war coverage by the
media would appear to support many of the categories of media theory on how the media
affects policy. And this fear of casualties can be a good rule of thumb to apply to the
problems of modern war in the post-Vietnam era.
Often political leaders prefer the less costly measures of high-tech weapons and
the use of technological rather than human capital. Gartzke (2001, 467) writes on the US
cruise missile strike on Iraq in 1996, “Fear of casualties, particularly so close to an
election, was thought to have led administration officials to choose the costly pilot less

weapons.” And a similar thought process reportedly inspired actions in the former
Yugoslavia, “In the Bosnia and Kosovo crises, NATO leaders restricted military action to
air strikes and cruise missile attacks, apparently to limit casualties” (Gartzke, 2001, 467.
These fears of high casualties go hand in hand with fears of the protracted
struggle. Recent literature ties the length of war with the erosion of public support.
Bennett and Stam (1998) point out that after 18 months of war, democracies must
respond to public opinion. And often this public opinion is centered on whether to
intervene at all in humanitarian causes. Mandelbaum (1994) believes the question of
intervention is a conceptual one, and to paraphrase, he asks, do some groups deserve to
have support in building a new country? And if one decides to help that country, what is
the best way to do it?
These questions are more modern forms of the questions asked in opinion studies
conducted after the Vietnam War. As Russett and Nincic (1976, 411) observed, “public
opinion is now much less favorably disposed toward the use of American military force
abroad than at any time since the beginning of the cold war. Russett and Nincic (1976)
also found that the public is highly selective when it comes to choosing where the US
should send forces, and that this phenomenon has to do with geographic proximity to the
US. “The public willingness to employ American forces also depends strongly on the
nature of the threat. Depending on the country threatened, between two and four times as
many people would use American troops to defend against an external attack as against
an indigenous insurgency” (Russet and Nincic (1976, 430).
Mueller (1971) found in a comparative study of public opinion data from the
Vietnam and Korean wars that “In each war, support is projected to have started at much

the same level and then every time American casualties increased by a factor of 10 (i.e.,
from 100 to 1,000 or from 10,000 to 100,000) support for the war dropped by about 15
percentage points” (Mueller. 1971, 366)
Intervention, the Vietnam Syndrome, and fear of casualties were not the only
trend in public opinion and foreign policy in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Researchers
such as Schneider (1982) found that from 1974-1982; public opinion began to slide
toward a more conservative rather than interventionist or isolationist profile. Schneider
(1982) pointed toward events such as the Iran hostage crisis and the Soviet invasion of
Afghanistan and credited them for working to “revive the national will” (Schneider,
1982, 35).
Schneider, through data collected from the National Opinion Research Center,
was able to construct a model based on disagreement on foreign policy issues. He found
that “internationalists,” those better-educated Americans who paid more attention to
foreign affairs and preferred a more active US engagement in international affairs, split
into two camps (Schneider, 1982). Conservative internationalists “pictured the world
primarily in East-West terms: democracy versus totalitarianism, capitalism versus
communism, freedom versus repression” (Schneider, 1982, 40). “Liberal
internationalists emphasized economic and humanitarian problems over security issues
and rejected a hegemonic role for the United States. They wanted leaders to think in
global terms: the scarcity of natural resources, environmental and oceanic pollution, and
international economic inequality” (Schneider, 1982, 40).
Both sides sought to put more morality back into the Kissinger notions of balance
of power and national interest foreign policy. These two sides, however, do not cover the

full spectrum of American foreign policy opinion in the 70’s. “Noninternationalists, who
comprised almost half of the American public in the 1974 study, do not share this
moralism. “They are suspicious of international involvements of any kind” (Schneider,
1982, 41) …” unless a clear and compelling issue of national interest or national security
is at stake. If we are directly threatened or if our interest is involved in any important
way, this group wants swift, decisive action but not long-term involvement” (Schneider,
1982, 42). The significance of this group is clear to the politically-savvy; this group is
the swing vote that “swings left and right unpredictably in response to its current fears
and concerns (Schneider, 1982, 42). For example, noninterventionists support a strong
military in general, but fear long military interventions in cases like Vietnam.
Noninterventionists can swing and support conservatives on some issues like the military,
but also support the liberals in terms of taming American intervention (Schneider, 1982).
Schneider (1982) makes a clear case for Ronald Reagan’s 1980 election success,
how Reagan harnessed fears of American weakness against the Soviets and parlayed
those fears into votes from a huge bloc of noninterventionists. However, Schneider
(1982) argues, the same beliefs and attitudes that propelled Reagan’s election (strong
national defense and fears of his reputation for intervention), worked to constrain him
during the first months of his presidency. “There are two mechanisms by which public
opinion constrains public policy. First is the anticipatory effect of elections. Politicians
are extraordinarily sensitive to the polls; they make careful estimates of what kinds of
positions will be political assets or political liabilities at election time.” (Schneider, 1982,
54). The basic lesson here is that, based on popular data from Harris and NBC News
polls on presidential approval ratings before the midterm elections of 1982, success in

enacting President Reagan’s agenda on defense spending and intervention was shown to
be more and more dependent on polls. Languishing support of further defense spending
and intervention highlighted the constraints on Reagan foreign policy. “The basic picture
was approval of Reagan’s initial defense buildup, no desire to revert to the perceived
weakness of the Carter period, but no desire to push the defense buildup any further”
(Schneider, 1982, 55). And this supports Schneider notion that it was conservatism and
not interventionism that marked the early years of Reaganism.
The second foreign policy constraint, according to Schneider (1982), “is the
splintering of the old bipartisan consensus on foreign policy, which has pulled the
Democratic and Republican parties apart” (Schneider, 1982, 53). This finding was based
on an analysis of congressional roll-call in the 1981 National Journal votes, “Foreign
policy had become a major area of partisan conflict” (Schneider, 1982, 54). Both parties
generally took sides on the issues; Democrats aligned themselves along “human rights,
arms control, and anti-interventionism, “(Schneider, 1982, 54). And again, generally
speaking, the Republicans became the party of strength and the Democrats the party of
As both sides compete for the electorate and attempt to sell their agendas on
foreign policy to the noninterventionists, different trends in mass media have emerged.
Television has spawned a type of voter who “regularly follows foreign affairs” and
“tends to have strong dispositions on the issues.” (Schneider, 1982, 62). Schneider
(1982) also observes that people with strongly held opinions on the issues will seek new
information and will use that information to “bolster their opinions,” Since most
researchers agree television news on foreign policy is negative in nature and the viewers

are more cynical (Robinson, 1976), the people who do not hold strong opinions of foreign
policy issues (the noninterventionists) are more affected. (Schneider 1982). They get
oversaturated and become suspicious of the elites who appear to be in a constant uproar
over issues from lands far away from day to day life. The noninterventionists become
suspicious of American involvement in world affairs and begin tuning out (Schneider,
1982, 62).
The significance of Schneider is that he questions the automatic attentiveness of
the public. We would almost have to create another media theory category based on his
findings, somewhere between the CNN effect and manufactures consent: policy makers
are responsive to public opinion and what is on CNN, and policy makers have an agenda
that they wish to transmit in the media. But Schneider would be skeptical on the overall
effectiveness of reaching noninterventionists—who are inattentive and fickle when they
do pay attention to foreign affairs. In the Schneider model, to the people that matter, the
majority noninterventionist swing voter, television news on foreign policy has become so
much noise, not worth the bother.
Schneider doubted the link between television news and public opinion. Page,
Shapiro, & Dempsey (1987) also tried to answer the extent of this connection. The
researchers selected 80 pairs of polling questions from the last 15 years, when archived
television newscasts were available. The questions were split nearly evenly between
foreign and domestic issues. The dependent variable was the level of public opinion at
the survey. Then for each of the 80 cases at television newscast was chosen for that day
and coded each story that was relevant to the question being asked. Each quote on an

issue was coded on a five-point directional scale from “clearly pro” to “clearly con”
(Page, Shapiro, & Dempsey, 1987).
The researchers found several significant cases where a “clearly pro” statement
from a television news anchor or reporter correlated in a four-point public opinion change
on the same issue (Page, Shapiro, & Dempsey, 1987). They also found popular
presidents and news commentaries from credible news anchors make substantial
movements in public opinion. The findings from (Page, Shapiro, & Dempsey, 1987)
seem to indicate that there is support for manufactures consent theory of mass media in
which political elites attempt to transmit a certain agenda through the media, and in turn,
the media mobilizes support for a particular policy. However, these findings also show
the potential efficacy for the CNN effect, framing or policy-media interaction, where the
media takes a more active role, is critical, and takes sides on an issue. This could be
especially dramatic during times of policy uncertainty or elite dissensus.
Popular presidents may seem to enjoy the “bully pulpit” status where they can
more readily transmit their policy messages and enjoy the credibility and prestige of their
office. Researchers have found this bully pulpit to be highly-powerful during times of
war. Parker (1995) examines the notion of “rally” effects and public opinion during the
first Persian Gulf War. Parker (1995) differentiates her findings from (Mueller 1970,
1973, 1993) and (Brody and Shapiro 1989, 1991) who focus primarily on political gains
in public opinion approval ratings. To Parker, 1995, 526) “Rally events invoke feelings
of allegiance toward national political institutions and policies. The term allegiance
implies a ‘unity with the ‘central’ values, the political processes, the moral integrity of
the political system, and a loyal to and support of the order” (Lane, 1962, 162). The

findings showed significant changes in not only evaluations of President George H. W.
Bush, but in the US Congress, and “Trust in the federal government, assessments of
personal finances, and expectations for the economy. Most of these attitudes return to
pre-conflict levels within 10 months” (Parker, 1995, 526).
It would appear that due to rally effects during and after a war, a ruling elite has a
grace period in which to use its political capital to transmit a policy agenda to a more
receptive public. In Bush’s case, there seemed to be policy uncertainty on the direction
of the economy during his reelection campaign against Clinton in 1992. It is safe to say,
the rally effects of the Persian Gulf War did not last throughout the election.
Policy uncertainty or consensus on policy is the basis for study on Vietnam War
coverage by Hallin (1984). Framework for what is considered acceptable journalism (in
terms of objectivity) changes as dissent from elites grows. “The case of Vietnam
suggests that whether the media tend to be supporting or critical of government policies
depends on the consensus those policies enjoy, particularly within the political
establishment” (Hallin, 1984, 22). Hallin articulates one of the most significant points of
this paper, that media reflects debate among political elites, if there is consensus in the
debate—the media will stay within the limits of the discussion, when consensus among
political elites breaks down, “coverage becomes increasingly critical and diverse in the
viewpoints it represents, and increasingly difficult for officials to control” (Gitlin, 1980,
ch. 10) and (Hallin, 1984, 23).
It stands to reason that if we follow this construct, media strategy from elites
should factor in, not only, the effects on the public, or targeting what Schneider calls the
noninterventionist swing voter, but also targeting, transmitting, and selling the message to

other elites. Failure to sway political elites during times of crisis could result in lack of
control of the agenda, for example, certain periods of the last Iraq war when military
elites publicly criticized the war plan. Hallin’s (1984) findings make the strongest case
for the policy-media interaction theory, one of the theories which I will test in this study.
Propaganda is another theory that will be tested. Propaganda is a phenomenon we
normally associate with authoritarian regimes, but Nohrstedt, Kaitatzi-Whitlock, Ottosen,
and Riegert (2000) found that by studying four western democratic countries: Greece,
Norway, Sweden, and the UK they found a greater understanding of propaganda in the
NATO bombing campaign on Kosovo. Both sides spent huge amounts of time and
“effort trying to win over public opinion and to elicit legitimacy and support for the
warfare” (Nohrstedt, et al, 2000, 384). NATO trumpeted its actions in the name of peace
and humanitarianism. Those who were not on board were lumped with Milosovic and his
band of evil-doers. Serb propaganda described the NATO bombing as fascist and in
violation of international law.
This basic dichotomy was used for the content analysis as it studied newspaper
coverage of President Clinton’s speeches when the air attacks first began. The coverage
was analyzed in newspapers in the four countries by tracking the extent to which it was
criticized and opposed (Nohrstedt, et al, 2000). They found that the NATO/Clinton view
was reinforced by the UK, Sweden, and Norway. The newspapers in these countries also
picked up on and elaborated the comparison of Milosevic to Hitler that Clinton made in
his speeches. The British and Norwegian newspapers did not criticize the peacekeeping
role of NATO, but the Greek and Swedish newspapers did. The Greek newspaper was

the only one that questioned and criticized the legitimacy of the entire operation.
(Nohrstedt, et al, 2000).
This study is significant because it lays a precedent for media study of a war that
was instigated primarily by the US and the UK. It lays groundwork for more study into a
comparative analysis of television news coverage and the reaction to the messages
transmitted by coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom. This construct assumes the
media takes on a manufactures consent role. Some researchers point toward war
coverage that is more prone to the ‘CNN effect’ and study cases in which the coverage is
more media-driven.
The case of Somalia is an example of what Mermin (1997) calls the myth of a
media-driven foreign policy. Citing Cohen (1994), Mandelbaum (1994), and Roberts
(1993), who basically agree that images in the media drove policy makers to act in
Somalia, Mermin (1997) differs by trying to find out why Somalia appeared on the
collective media and political elite radar screen in the first place. Ethiopia famine
coverage beginning in 1984 is cited as one reason (Mermin 1997).
Another theory is that Washington journalists acted to set the agenda on their
own, without the help of independent journalists in the field. But Mermin, with the help
of Hallin (1986), believes that journalists can not set the agenda without the help of
government. News organizations have limited time and resources; they depend on the
governmental agencies for stories and information. “The government is organized to
provide a timely flow of information, geared to the demands of daily journalism; it is
extremely efficient for news organizations to locate their personnel at the channels
provided by the government” (Hallin, 1986, 71). Mermin (1997) also doubts how much

the major networks “framed” coverage of Somalia, “The evidence indicates that the
major networks focused on the possibility of American intervention only after it had first
been advocated in Washington” (Mermin, 1997, 389).
However, Mermin did find evidence of the ‘CNN effect’ (his analysis focused on
television newscasts from ABC, NBC, CBS, and CNN). “CNN explicitly frames
Somalia as a tragedy the United States has turned its back on, ignoring the children who
‘want the world to see…and to forcefully act’ (Mermin, 1997, 398). But despite the calls
for action by CNN, Mermin (1997) finds no direct anecdotal evidence that these stories
affected policy. Possibly correlating the period of coverage to public opinion polls might
be a better measure. Mermin (1997) works to shed light on some of the media theories
that will be studied in my sample, such as framing, agenda setting, and the CNN effect.
His work is a good jumping off point, because it shows that media studies during wartime
must be very nuanced to discern the subtle variances found among the different theories
in the literature.

Research Question
I am investigating the extent to which television news drives/changes
governmental policy during times of war. I’ll also examine the extent to which wartime
television news conforms/ transmits the policy from government elites or executives.
Does TV news push, or is it pulled by governmental policy in wartime?

The Sample
I have in my possession a unique data set acquired from the Foreign Broadcast
Information Service (FBIS) during the last war with Iraq. FBIS is a US Governmental
agency that records broadcast news from countries all over the world. This data set

consists of television newscasts from six countries during the three-week period of 10
March 03 and 31 March 03. The countries are: France (TV2), Russia (Renya), China
(CCTV-1), Iraq (Baghdad-TV), Iran (Tehran-TV), and Qatar (Al-Jazeerah). The
remaining three countries are: United States, United Kingdom, and Germany. I will use
CBS News (Vanderbilt News Archives), BBC-TV, and DeutscheWelle to represent those
countries. I will acquire these newscasts directly from the source or from the Vanderbilt
News Archives when I get further funding for the study. The foreign newscasts are not
translated and I do not have translations from FBIS, nor will these translations be
available. I plan on arranging funding for research assistants to help me with the coding
and translations.

I will first perform country studies on each of the sample countries and report their
current media organization and literature. I will then describe the general production
techniques of each country’s newscast. I will focus on “the news content, a form through
which television news producers view an event or issue, what they perceive in it, and
how they construe it in the production process” (Chang, Wang, et al, 1998, 3). I will then
use the theories defined in the literature review for my content analysis, the process by
which one “analyzes the concepts, categories, and thought-models the television news
producers employ to formulate their stories” (Chang, Wang et al, 1998, 3). The
following theories will help create the categories I will use for the different categories of
the content analysis:
1) “The CNN effect”: Does the media drive policy? Do images of starving children
in Somalia make policy makers intervene?

2) “Manufacturers Consent”- Does the media mobilize support for policy? Does the
media conform and transmit the desired policy of elites? Is policy “pulled” by the
3) “Framing”- Does the media have a particular understanding or perception of the
problem? Are they taking sides? “Priming”-Does the media prepare an audience
for the advent of a certain policy?
4) “Policy Certainty/ Policy Uncertainty”- When governments know what they want
to do, there is little media influence. When there is uncertainty, the media will
frame it and influence the policy process.
5) “Policy/Media Interaction”: Media takes sides. Framing is active and critical.
Elites disagree publicly on policy. Policy is uncertain. (See Vietnam War
coverage). Or the opposite, the media acts within a “sphere of consent” and there
is “media non-effect” on policy.
6) “Casualties” How many? Friendly? Enemy? Civilian? How is it portrayed in
media? Probably one of the most salient issues affecting public opinion in
7) “Propaganda/Agenda Setting”-Does the government tell people “what to think”
(propaganda) or “what to think about”? (agenda setting)
8) “Rally Around the Flag”-public approval goes up in times of war
9) Wolfsfield’s Political Contest theory—Marginalized Groups (protesters) set

Media Organization Country Studies
United States

According to (Maher and Thomas, 2002), “The USA publishes more newspapers
and periodicals than any other country.” Most newspapers in the US are local, regional,
or statewide in nature and there are few national newspapers. Some have a national
readership such as the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post,
and the Los Angeles Times. In 1982, Gannett started USA Today, the first national
newspaper. Overall, Sunday edition newspapers are “an important and distinctive feature
of US publishing (Maher and Thomas, 2002, 4254).
The American media tradition is grounded in a free and democratic press based
on the First Amendment to the Constitution, “Congress shall make no law…abridging the
freedom of speech or of the Press.” Types of legislation affecting the press come from
federal and state origins. Journalists, who had operated under a degree of confidentiality,
were ordered by a Supreme Court ruling in 1972 to give confidential source information
to grand juries. This has resulted in some jailing of journalists and calls to amend the
legislation to ‘shield’ journalists and give them greater immunity (Maher and Thomas,
The US media has responded to economic pressures by streamlining, using
technology to reduce the workforce, and reducing budgets for news organizations. Many
ownership groups have resorted to mergers and acquisitions to help cut costs and increase
revenue. As a consequence, there has been a steady of growth of newspaper chains and
large ownership groups of television and radio stations such as Gannett, Knight Ridder,
Dow Jones, Clear Channel, AOL Time Warner, General Electric, and Viacom.
Broadcasting is regulated by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).
The FCC is primarily concerned with monitoring content and insuring the marketplace

does not succumb to monopolies. The FCC has regulatory and enforcement capabilities;
this tradition was passed down from the Communications Act of 1934. This legislation
“set the United States down a path that would fundamentally distinguish it from Europe
and most of the advanced industrial countries for over half a century. Whereas European
nations would establish broadcasting as a public service, the American approach firmly
diverted mass media from the public interest arena and made it essentially just another
marketplace” (Feigenbaum, 1998, 284). We will explore this distinction between US and
European media later in this section.

United Kingdom
The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) operates under a Royal Charter and
is financed by licensing fees. BBC Radio is comprised of five national networks
throughout the United Kingdom and 38 local radio stations in England (Newton and
Brynin, 2001). The BBC World Service broadcasts 24-hours a day to all areas of the
world. There are several different versions of BBC World in numerous regions and
languages around the globe. The 1996 Broadcasting Act set up the Broadcasting
Standards Commission which monitors broadcasting standards “with respect to the
broadcast portrayal of violence, sexual conduct, and matters of taste and decency”
(Maher and Thomas, 2002, 4119).
BBC Television operates two services, BBC-1 and BBC-2. BBC World
Television is a 24-hour news and information and entertainment service. The
Independent Television Commission (ITC) is the public body that regulates all licensing
and regulation of commercially-funded television in the UK (Newton and Brynin, 2001).
It oversees the handful of independent television channels, plus cable and satellite

companies. The ITC insures that there is effective competition in the markets for these
The United Kingdom has some of the highest circulation rates in the world for its
daily papers such as The Daily Mirror, The Sun, and News of the World. None of the
major newspapers are directly owned by a political party, although readers who identify
with a particular party are partial to one or more newspapers.

To what extent does the

media in the UK transmit elite policy messages to the public? “Early research on ‘media
effects’ seemed to suggest that the media has little impact on the public’s political
opinions (Klapper, 1960, 356). Contemporary work on the press suggests that partisan
newspaper coverage in Britain has a somewhat limited impact on the public (Curtice and
Semetko, 1994; Norris et al, 1999). The literature on UK television and its effects are
limited, although there are findings on how television is the most relied on and trusted
medium of information (Gavin, 2000). “Contemporary research tends to suggest that
television (in the UK) has the additional capacity to focus public attention, stimulate
public concern and influence the criteria by which the public judge politicians” (Gavin,
2000, 341)—the media’s so-called ‘agenda setting’ and ‘priming’ functions.
Newton and Brynin (2001) found Britain to be a good place to study mass
communication because of the nations’ media organization. The “press is highly
centralized and most people read a national daily or Sunday paper…69 per cent of people
read a national daily newspaper” (Newton and Brynin, 2001, 266). On the whole, British
newspapers do not officially take up party lines, but they lean toward a particular
ideology, while the electronic media stays neutral. Newton and Brynin (2001)
investigated whether the press has a relationship with voting patterns. “They concluded

that newspapers have little or no significant effect on political opinion and voting; they
reinforce and reflect rather than mould or influence” (Newton and Brynin (2001).
However, as Conservative papers have risen in prominence the Conservative party has
made successful gains in the electorate, while the Labour and Liberal/Liberal Democrat
share has fallen.

The authors point out this trend is noticeable because of the mergers

and acquisitions of foreign ownership groups who “generally (not invariably) have
conservative and right-wing political interests” (Newton and Brynin, 2001, 282).

Germany has limited the amount of mergers and acquisitions its media companies
can make, setting guidelines on the amount of media outlets one group can control
(Maher and Thomas, 2002). A media group can not control over 40 per cent of the total
circulation of newspapers, 40 per cent of the total circulation of magazines, or 20 per cent
of the total circulation of newspapers and magazines together (Maher and Thomas, 2002).
The Association of Public Law Broadcasting Organizations (ARD) is the
coordinating body of Germany’s public radio and television stations, including the mostwidely known, Deutsche Welle (Maher and Thomas, 2002). There are three publicservice television channels. Regional broadcasting organizations combine to provide
material for the First Programme which is produced by ARD. The Second Programme is
separate and controlled by the states and financed partially by advertising. The Third
Programme is for cultural and educational programming aired at night and is financed by
contributions from several regional bodies (Maher and Thomas, 2002).
“The broadcasting board is the central internal pluralistic structural element. The
broadcasting councils comprise 19 to 66 members depending on the station. They are

supposed to safeguard general interests and to ensure that program demands and program
principles are adhered to” (Wuggenig and Giegler, 1990, 329).
The “free press” in Germany is guaranteed in article 5 of the Basic Law which
guarantees the freedom of the press, not only as an individual right, but also as an
institution (Wuggenig and Giegler, 1990). The German press, as a democratic press, then
“has a double function; on one hand it is an ‘engine’ to drive public discussion, on the
other it is to serve as an organ of public opinion (Ricker, 1989, 172).
There are a number of limitations on the freedom of press in Germany, such as
German Press Council, whose members are nominated by the press associations and
journalists. The press council serves as a watchdog and investigates ethical and factual
complaints against journalists. The council then serves written reprimands to offenders
of the journalistic code (Wuggenig and Giegler, 1990).
Major magazines like Der Spiegel and Stern are influential and often thought of
as liberal or leftist, as opposed to the more conservative daily major newspapers like Bild
and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (Wuggenig and Giegler, 1990). German
publications may be seen as having a particular leaning; one reason is that German
journalists have been found to be somewhat “less concerned with presenting political
reality as neutrally and objectively as possible; rather they see their job as a chance to
exert political influence” (Donsbach, 1995, 153). “They are also less likely to present
political conflicts in a neutral way, and they tend to adhere to the objectivity norm to a
lesser degree” (Donsbach, 1993, 153; Donsbach and Klett, 1993). German journalists
have also been found to be on the high end of subjectivity in their work (Donsbach, 1993;
Kocher, 1986).

The history of German press and controlling public opinion is a rich one, and can
be traced to the age of Bismarck. Researchers such as Mommsen (1990) studied public
opinion and foreign policy during the Wilhemine period (1897-1914). Mommsen (1990)
concluded despite von Buelow’s attempts at a press strategy to influence public opinion,
“as a rule, public opinion drifted out of control” (Mommsen, 1990, 382). Mommsen,
however, found Wilhelm to be optimistic about his government’s ability to control
opinion, “’What is the people? Wilhelm wrote, “What is public opinion? It is the opinion
held by eighty to ninety intelligent and influential men-usually in contrast to the opinions
of the masses—and which they propagate until they eventually become communis
opinion” (Mommsen, 1990, 386). It is interesting that Kaiser Wilhelm is an early
proponent of the manufactures consent theory, that policy “driven” and targeted toward
an elite consensus can be transmitted to the masses. Buelow attempted to follow suit by
re-installing the government messaging apparatus that had fallen into disrepair under
Bismarck. The supreme test came during the selling the concept of the German battle
fleet to the public. This full public relations blitz included “attempts to influence the
daily press to the distribution of leaflets and publication of relevant books…”
(Mommsen, 1990, 387). These attempts became successful, at least in terms of lending
the upper middle class a more nationalist and imperialist attitude. However, the failures
of Buelow’s foreign policy did not meet the expectations of his public relations
campaign. “The official press became preoccupied with mollifying and modifying public
opinion on foreign policy issues…the government did not want to fan the nationalist
feelings of the public still further. And as time went on, it found itself more and more on
the defensive” (Mommsen, 1990, 390). The Wilhemine case is an example of how the

media can conform to the policy of elites, and also how this does not always translate into
successful control of public opinion, due to raised expectations or blowback.
Another historical case (this one in the modern era) was Germany’s involvement
in UN campaign in Kosovo. It marked the first time Germany had participated in a
military action since World War II. Eilders and Lueter (2000) analyzed five leading
German newspapers and used this definition of framing. “The construction of meaning
and the symbolic struggles over the definition reality predominantly take place in the
mass media. Media thus are highly important agents in the construction or denial of
legitimacy. The interpretive effort involved in the justification or delegitimization of war
can be described as framing” (Eilders and Lueter, 2000, 416). Framing is usually linked
to protest movements, “intended to mobilize potential adherents and constituents, to
garner bystander support, and to demobilize antagonists” (Snow and Benford, 1988, 198).
“In the Kosovo war German participation might be framed as a nation-specific obligation
resulting from historical experience, as a consequence of NATO membership, or as an
important contribution to European identity formation” (Eilders and Lueter, 2000, 417).
Eilders and Lueter (2000, 418) found that the framing focused on a Germany
being torn between the “desire to prevent human rights violations and the disapproval of
military force.” However, they found a high degree of approval regarding the war across
the spectrum of the five different German newspapers. There was also a high degree of
criticism (Eilders and Lueter, 2000), but most of this criticism was consensual. The
researchers declared that their finding fit in with Hallin’s idea of “media non-effect,”
manufacturers consent, and sphere of consensus. If there is a low level of disagreement
and conflict among political elites on policy, the media loses its “watchdog effect” and

the media therefore loses its oppositional quality. Throughout its history (without taking
Nazism into account), German elites have had various amounts of success using the
media to drive public policy. Most of it has fallen into the “media non-effect realm.”

Most major French daily newspapers are owned by private groups or individual
publishers. The Commission Nationale de la Communication et des Libertes (CNCL);
“supervises all French broadcasting,’ awards licenses to private radio and television
stations, allocates cable networks and frequencies, appoints heads of state-owned radio
and television companies” (Maher and Thomas, 2002, 1616). State-controlled
broadcasting has three divisions: Radio France, Radio-TV Overseas France, and Radio
France International. State-controlled Television, such as TV-2 France, which is in the
sample in my study, is made up of general news and entertainment programming.
Historically, television in France developed as more of a public service to
transmit information, rather than a source for entertainment (Feigenbaum, 1998). The
French have become decidedly more active in the attempt to insure their national culture
is represented in the broadcast medium. 50 per cent of French programming must be
devoted to French culture and French representatives have called for an EU quota that
requires a 60 per cent quota of European programming to be required on EU broadcasting
(Feigenbaum, 1998).
The ending of the public monopoly and the independent control authority during
the Mitterand Presidency was a landmark for France (Neveu, 1999). The first public
station that was privatized (TF1) by the Chirac regime and the creation of the private
channel M6 moved journalists into a closer relationship to politicians (Neveu, 1999).

The new private channels began using more opinion polling in their news reports. The
use of the “instant poll” became more widespread as well (Neveur, 1999).
Historically, France has had a tradition of partnership between the government
and media during times of war. During World War I, the French general staff organized
briefings for the media and used the conferences as a chance to pass along propaganda to
counteract “defeatism” (Martin, 1994, 406). Journalists, in military uniform, were then
escorted to the front lines, where they could get firsthand battle accounts. Retired
officers often commented on and attempted to analyze their dispatches in local
newspapers (Martin, 1994, 406). It is interesting how similar this type of war coverage
was to today’s use of embedded journalists and military analysts.
The case of French war coverage in World War II obviously changed. Although
it began in a similar way to the coverage in World War I, the collapse of the French
military and the rise of the Vichy Regime gave way to a “muzzled press” (Martin, 1994,
406). And perhaps stemming from disgust and distrust of the media during the Vichy
Regime, the Gaullists maintained control over the press after World War II.
However, French war journalists exercised a large amount of freedom covering
conflicts in Algeria and Vietnam. Later, after privatization of some radio and television
networks, the coverage of the first Gulf War emerged as “an occasion for tension
between the powers and the media” (Martin, 1994, 408). French journalists were
unaccustomed to the “military”-language barrier that favored the use of English. They
distrusted the US led “pool” system. French television networks attempted to compete
with CNN by offering considerable “live” and sensational coverage (Martin, 1994, 408).
Journalists found themselves taking an unwilling “pro-West” and “anti-Arab” side which

ran counter to their objective and professional views as journalists and the more moderate
views of the government (Martin. 1994, 408).
French media tends to be changing toward a more political context, “there is a
tendency to recast events within a political framework, an attitude perhaps related to the
fact that many current media members grew into adulthood during the 60’s and 70’s and
are prone to politicize problems, often from an anti-status quo perspective (Martin, 1994,
409). The older generations are more used to war and are more versed in the terms,
strategy, and tactics of warfare. The present generation of journalists is more concerned
with social issues like the environment, education, disarmament, and peace (Martin,
1994, 409). This growing antimilitarism and individualism in the media and its reflection
and transmission of similar messages could be one trend that worked to accentuate
France’s dissatisfaction with US policy during the last war with Iraq.

All newspapers and magazines in Russia experienced a dramatic increase in
circulation due to perestroika and glasnost in the early 90’s. Komsomolskaya Pravda is
still one of the most popular dailies followed by Moskovskii Komsomelets and Trud. In
1993, the Federal Television and Radio Broadcasting Service replaced the Ministry of
Press and Information and the Federal Information Service of Russia. (Maher and
Thomas, 2002, 3384). Public Russian Television (ORT) was privatized by President
Yeltsin 1994 (the state still has 51% control) and was formed to oversee the state
television industry, which is composed of Channel 1.

It broadcasts general news and

entertainment (Channel 1’s- “Vremya” (Time) is part of the sample of this study). “The
President has enormous leverage over state television. This is also true of commercial

television, where the President even though he does not appoint the management, can still
exert pressure by canceling or refusing to renew a television franchise” (Wedgwood,
1996, 23). The All-Russian State Television and Radio Broadcasting (VGTRK)
broadcasts Channel 2 (news and entertainment), Russiya (Russian universities), and
Kultura (culture). Independent Television (NTV) is majority-owned by a private media
company, which has hired new talent away from Channel 1 and developed a” fast-paced
westernized style” (Oates and Roselle, 2000) for its news program Sevodnya (Today).
There are also private channels and networks, like Ren-TV, which is a network of more
than 100 television stations in the Russia Federation and 60 stations in the republics
(Maher and Thomas 2002). Television is medium of choice in Russia, invariably because
the Soviet communist regime used television as its preferred mode of propaganda (Oates
and Roselle, 2000). Russian broadcasters soon became reliant on the state for funding
and became less independent than was originally hoped after the collapse of the Soviet
The Russian media is constantly evolving and lacks the historic basis of a free
press that western journalism enjoys. Russian journalists and media institutions are still
striving to establish their role in post-Soviet Russia (Wilson, 1995). Broadcasters have
attempted to adopt the western style of reporting, but revenue and budgets fall short of
the west and Russian media outlets simply can not compete in terms of sophistication or
style. Many broadcast stories are simply translated into Russian from CNN and AP and
put directly on the air (Wilson, 1995). Budgetary constraints have stymied the Russian
media. Runaway inflation has hurt purchasing power. Selling advertising for revenue is
no answer, when the public has no money to buy the products (Wilson, 1995). Many

news organizations seek government subsidy, as opposed to trimming staffs, cutting costs
and using technology to make operations more efficient and streamlined as is the case in
the west.
Other researchers (Daniloff, 1995) have found “healthy trends” in Russian media,
“Reporters and editors are prepared to fight for free speech. Second, journalists are
beginning to realize that a corrupt press will lose both financial support and popular
respect. Finally, journalists are confronting the issue of ethical and professional
behavior” (Daniloff, 1995, 36). However, Daniloff, (1995) points to budget problems
that hamstring the news gathering process. Regional newspapers are not interconnected
to national news. They can not afford a national or international newswire, therefore
policy makers in Moscow can not get their message out. As a result of this lack of
comprehensive news coverage, people are losing faith in democracy and capitalism.
There is no explanation as to why it is delayed or not working (Daniloff, 1995). “A
quarter of the nation, which lives in rural areas, has little or no understanding of the
Kremlin’s economic reforms. These people only know that their standard of living has
been destroyed by runaway inflation. They are confused and embittered; they do not
want the old communist system, but no one is showing them any new or better way”
(Daniloff, 1995, 39).
A bigger issue is the effect of Russian organized crime on journalism. Dhimitri
Kholodov, a journalist from Moskovskii Komsomolets who was investigating the
Russian military, was murdered in 1994. Vladimir List’ev, the head of Russian public
television, was murdered in 1995 (Wedgwood, 1996). Organized crime can also gain
financial control of the media. Through its extensive links to Russian banks, organized

crime can take advantage of insolvent media outlets that turn to these same banks for
loans (Wedgwood, 1996). And organized crime fosters simple, old-fashioned graft and
bribery in Russian journalists.
The old Soviet-style bias is still alive in some Russian media outlets as well. The
European Institute for the Media studied ORT’s Channel-1 “Vremya” during the 1995
parliamentary elections and found “ORT avoided criticism of the government, often
ignored the nationalistic trend in party politics, and tended to overlook the smaller parties
advocating swifter reforms…for the presidential elections…unduly favorable coverage of
the president, failure to challenge him about contradictory campaign promises, and
constant negative remarks about other candidates” (Oates and Roselle, 2000, 34).
Viewers still tune into the state-controlled channel, despite the bias issues. During the
Chechnyan war in 1994, about 56 per cent of people watching television in Moscow were
watching ORT’s Channel 1 with the remaining 54 per cent watching the independent
NTV. (Mickiewicz, 1997, 223). Although the same survey reported that more people
claimed NTV had less bias and more objectivity than ORT.
These findings on media bias and the Russian public’s apparent disinterest is a
cause of alarm for some researchers. Gerber and Mendelson (2002) studied how Russian
citizens viewed human rights and the war in Chechnya, “Of the 20 problems presented to
respondents, the one evoking the lowest degree of concern was “limitations on civil rights
and democratic freedoms (freedom of expression and the press). Only 1.3 per cent of the
weighted adult sample listed loss of these civil rights among their 5-6 greatest fears”
(Gerber and Mendelson, 2002, 279). Russian respondents also called, not for less media
censorship, but more, “Only 17.2 per cent said they think government control of media

reports from Chechnya is excessive. In contrast, 32 per cent advocated more censorship
of such reports. These responses suggest that very few Russians are concerned about
limitations on civil liberties” (Gerber and Mendelson, 2002, 279).
However, the researchers found that Russians are concerned about national
security and economics when questioned on their views about Chechnya. “The regime’s
efforts to frame the war as a ‘struggle against terrorists and bandits’ (Lapidus, 2002) have
been extremely effective” Gerber and Mendelson, 2002, 291). Respondents also say the
economic cost of the war is very important in their decision making. The number one
cause for Russian respondents to be against the war in Chechnya: large losses of Russian
troops. Casualties are the number one reason for 68.1 per cent of the respondents (Gerber
and Mendelson, 2002, 289).
The authors of this study say the Putin regime recognizes that the Russian public
is concerned about the economic costs and the high casualties and therefore the
government has moved to silence any information that may fan these flames of dissent.
“The Putin administration has implemented a cohesive strategy explicitly designed to
prevent information that might undermine its policies from reaching the Russian public.
Specifically, the authorities established the PR center, Rosinformatsentr, to shape stories
about the war. They punished journalists who departed from the sanctioned line…federal
authorities…harassed and took over media outlets that published critical information
about the war” (Gerber and Mendelson, 2002, 299).

China has only around 2,000 newspapers with each province producing one major
daily. The main news agency is Xinhua (New China) which has offices in all Chinese

province and about 100 overseas bureaus (Maher and Thomas, 2002, 1074). There are
304 radio stations and 354 television stations in China (Maher and Thomas, 2002). 94%
of the population is covered by some sort of television signal. The State Administration
of Radio, Film, and Television (SARFT) is the main regulatory body. The two
broadcasting components are China National Radio (CNR) and China Central Television
(CCTV), which operates under the Bureau of Broadcasting Affairs of the State Council
(Maher and Thomas, 2002). Foreign companies are prohibited from starting or operating
TV stations in China. But cable and satellite television is widespread and AOL Time
Warner and News Corporation have permission access China’s markets with their
programming. So CNN and Fox News is available to certain consumers in China
(millions of satellite receivers are in use).
CCTV commands 42% of television viewers for a typical prime time newscast in
1995. There were 250 million television sets in China in that year with an audience of
about 800 million viewers (Chang, Wang, et al, 1998).
News in China must often grapple with its position with the government.
“Chinese news tends to be predicated on how it might best serve the interests of the
state’s structural needs in political and social control, not in enlightening or alerting the
public” (Chang, Wang, et al, 4). Governmental fear of revolution, ethnic unrest, or fear
of general chaos is historically an overriding concern for the Chinese elites. It would
stand to reason then, that the media is considered simply another tool for controlling the
populace. “The structural submission or subjugation of the mass media to the state in the
form of party or governmental ownership and editorial guidance remains fundamentally
unchanged” (Starck & Yu, 1988; Zhang, 1993).

Cai and Swartz (2002) analyzed over 3100 Chinese newspaper articles for five
months across six different newspapers including the Spy plane incident of April 2001
the events of 9/11, and George W. Bush’s visit to China in February, 2002. Cai and
Swartz (2002) found that the Chinese often used American expressions to describe
negative events in the US or to use American expressions in indignations during editorial
comments. As a rebuttal to US complaints against Chinese human rights, the Chinese
have a “tendency to emphasize negative aspects of life in the United States” (Cai and
Swartz, 2002). The Chinese report American tabloid headlines and claim that they are
US news. Chinese news writing also has a tendency to reflect a clear policy agenda of
the government and encourage nationalist attitudes in the readership (Cai and Swartz,
Other researchers have focused on Chinese television and Internet news during
the events of 9/11. Yinbo (2002) analyzed CCTV, the independent Phoenix TV, which
airs in Hong Kong and Taiwan, and SINA Internet news. (It should be noted that Li
Yinbo is from Huazhong University of Science and Technology, People’s Republic of
China). SINA was the first among the three to report the terrorist attacks. Phoenix TV
was the first network to report the attacks. CCTV reported the attacks on every one of its
newscasts, but only very “simply,” presenting small stories at the end (Yinbo, 2002, 224).
SINA and Phoenix TV offered a very sympathetic response to the Chinese-Americans in
the US, by airing the names of the missing and offering a way for people to get in touch
with relatives in America. CCTV did little along those lines. (Yinbo, 2002, 224).
SINA used a wide range of still photographs on it web site. Phoenix TV had live
reporters at the World Trade Center. Phoenix TV had live video or telephone interviews

from the US, Hong Kong, or Taiwan. SINA signified how it is the largest and widely
used Chinese information medium (Yinbo, 2002, 226) A news feature entitled, “’The
names of Chinese Renters in the World Trade Center’ was read more than 3,000 times an
hour’” (Yinbo, 2002, 226).
Although SINA and Phoenix TV had varying degrees of success, both mediums
could have fared better. Many Chinese do not have Internet access and SINA was short
on content, which forced it to borrow stories and pictures from other sources. (Yinbo,
2002). Phoenix TV was lucky that it happened to have a correspondent who happened to
be at the World Trade Center at the time, or it would have had trouble maintaining a news
presence during the story (Yinbo, 2002). Yinbo (2002) saved his worst criticism for
CCTV, “CCTV does not care enough about the needs of its audience and interests.
Furthermore, its reliance on the Xinhua News Agency for news and other content and its
observance of the government’s journalistic guidelines greatly confine its coverage. It is
obvious that CCTV needs to make profound reformations in its management and
operations…” (Yinbo, 2002, 227).
CCTV has been found to revolve around current national events that showcase the
government efforts to make China a better place, such as disaster relief and anti-drug
campaigns. Many stories also feature political leaders (Chang, Wang, et al, 1998). “For
foreign news, CCTV packaged events or issues in a manner that would, when juxtaposed
against domestic news in the same line-up, create a subtle comparison showing a stable
and vibrant Chinese society” (Chang, Wang, et al, 1998). Military officials are a very
popular fixture on CCTV, (Chang, Wang, et al, 1998) found numerous examples of
military stories from their sample in 1992. There is currently a daily military report that

airs on CCTV. Chang and Wang found a very high number of national development and
economic reform stories. In foreign affairs stories, the United States was at the top of the
CCTV news has modernized its production techniques, including its reliance on a
more performance-based system from its production staff (Xiaoping, 2002). Chinese
reporters have steep monthly production quotas for stories. If these quotas are not met,
the reporter is replaced. As a result, competition among reporters is keen. Chinese
television news staffs are knowledgeable about western news gathering and production
techniques (Xiaoping, 2002). “The entire television system has made great efforts to
catch up with the more advanced foreign media, by buying new equipment, transmitting
news programs live…” (Xiaoping, 2002, 19). There is also advertising revenue at stake,
and different Chinese media outlets compete for the top stories and ratings (Xiaoping,
Not all studies focuses on the CCTV newscasts, Jiaodian Fangtan (Focus), is the
“60 Minutes” of Chinese television and it is known for its critical (by Chinese standards)
reporting. It was the first Chinese broadcast program to publicly criticize a government
policy or official. To what extent has this program broken from the reputation of Chinese
news as propaganda? (Chan, 2002). Chan (2002) found that the frequency of criticism
from Jiaodian Fangtan was high and it targets high levels of government and individuals
in high positions. Although most criticism was directed at the local level. Attempts at
criticism notwithstanding, the program still also broadcasts propaganda, which is its most
frequent category--38% of all reports. (Chan, 2002). And Chan (2002) found that the
party voice on propaganda, foreign affairs, and culture still dominates.

It is not all policy driving the media. Sometimes the “CNN effect” is apparent.
Xiaoping (2002) found that Jiaodian Fangtan has occasionally set the “government
agenda for policymaking and reform. President Jiang Zemin has been presented with
video tapes of Jiaodian Fangtan news programs, for example, a story that showed parts of
Beijing turning into desert. A few days later the central government met after sandstorms
blasted parts of the city. They decided to allocate 8 billion Yuan within five years to
plant trees and meet other conservation needs (Xiaoping, 2002).

Iraqi press was dominated by Ath-Thawra (Revolution) the official news organ of
the Baath Party, a daily newspaper with a circulation of 250,000. Alif Baa (Alphabet)
was the official weekly newspaper of the Ministry of Information and Culture. This
agency also published the monthly Al-Aqlam. The Iraqi News Agency handled all
information for the Baath Party. Radio Baghdad and Baghdad Television performed
broadcasting duties for the Baath Party.

According to the Iranian constitution, the “press is free, except in matters that are
contrary to public morality or insult religious belief or slander the honor and reputation of
individuals” (Maher and Thomas, 2002, 2055). All Iranian newspapers and magazines
since the revolution of 1979 must be licensed, and there are penalties for insulting
religious figures. There is currently intense debate among factions of the religious elite
on the extent to which the press must be limited. The Islamic Republic of Iran
Broadcasting (IRIB) controls five national television channels and three national radio
channels. “As described by Ayatollah Khamene’i, the constitutional ruler of Iran, ‘It

(IRIB) is the mouthpiece of the Islamic system. Its duty is to stand at the forefront
against a well-organized and obvious offensive which has been launched by the enemies
of Islam” (Barraclough, 2001).
Media members take care to not step across “the red line,” the symbolic
demarcation symbol of media decency that is described in the Iranian constitution.
Religion, logic, and guardianship form the sphere of consensus for the Iranian media.
The two factions of Iranian politics and religion fall into two camps: the conservatives
and the moderates. Generally, the moderates favor a liberal media, while the
conservatives favor a media that is tightly-controlled (Barraclough, 2001). President
Khatami, speaking for moderates in 1998 said, “We are deceiving ourselves if we believe
that we can hide the truth from the people in our coverage of the news and world affairs”
(Barraclough, 2001, 28). Newspapers are more inclined to cover more viewpoints and to
test the “red line” than are broadcasters (Barraclough, 2001). But it is the advent of
satellite television that has the conservative faction afraid. Even though most satellite
programs piped into Iran are not in Farsi, dishes are seen as a badge of rebellion. The
conservatives see it as a scourge upon their youth and the Islamic way of life. Satellite
dishes are even seen as “American flags” (Barraclough, 2001) Iranian authorities began
confiscating satellite dishes in 1996.

Nowhere has the use of satellite television revolutionized the information age for
the Middle East more than Qatar’s al Jazeerah satellite network. It started in 1996, when
a BBC Arabic language satellite channel was closed by Saudi Arabia. (Sardar, 2001) It
got start-up money from the Emir of Qatar, and the production staff, all trained in modern

production techniques by the BBC, began programs that feature uncensored and open
discussion of issues important to the Middle-Eastern world. Moderates and extremists
share airtime, and they all challenge the status-quo. The program “Opposite Direction”
will routinely pit conservatives versus moderates or fundamentalists versus secularists for
open-air debate (Wu, 1999). Many governments have threatened to withdraw
ambassadors from Kuwait if al Jazeerah will not stop criticizing them. Jordan ordered
the al Jazeerah bureau there to shut down in 1998 (Wu, 1999). Arab governments have
been forced to contemplate relaxing some of its own media laws, because many of its
citizens get their information from al Jazeerah (Sardar, 2001).

Initial Observations of Sample
I viewed a few newscasts from each country from the sample I currently have
(France, Russia, China, Iraq, Iran, and al Jazeerah (Qatar) during the war with Iraq). I
observed production techniques and quality, content trends, and any signals pointing
toward a particular media theory.

France TV 2 is clearly the highest quality newscast production in this sample.
And it eclipses, in my mind, work done by CNN, BBC, and other major networks in the
US. If the French intentions were to “out CNN, CNN—but keep the style decidedly
French,” then they have accomplished their goal. TV 2’s live shot capabilities and sheer
volume of live shots are unmatched, maybe even outnumbering the live shots done by
CNN, NBC or other US networks. French maps, graphics, and animation are first rate.
The reporters and anchors are focused and dramatic without being sensational. French

TV tells the story with video and sound in the French tradition of realism. These
newscasts are very “cinematic” and use all the elements of the French documentary style
known as “Cinema Verite” or film truth. Camera shots are handheld and the point of
view is manipulated, allowing for maximum realism.
For example, the viewer sees a soldier with binoculars, then it cuts to a point of
view shot of what he is looking at—other soldiers running. Then the viewer is taken up
close behind the soldiers running as the camera tracks it. The videographer must have
actually ran behind the soldiers to get the shot. The key to Cinema Verite is that the
viewer does not notice the edit or feel that there is a camera there. Cinema Verite is
unrehearsed and unstaged-- war is the ultimate unrehearsed theater. The embedded
journalist practice is perfect for this type of production and the French invented the style
in the first place, which stands to reason why they are so good at it. And this lends more
credence to the theory and practice of the French putting more of a “cultural thumbprint”
on television.
Cinema Verite can be contrasted to the two styles of American television news:
The National Press Photographer’s Association-style (NPPA) and MTV-style, which I
will explain later in the United States section. But briefly, NPPA style is the standard for
network news professionals for videography and editing. Different types of focal length-long, medium, and tight shots-- are arranged in sequence. The camera is almost always
mounted on a tripod. NPPA is the clean and clear standard that American viewers have
come to expect with television news. MTV-style is what the name implies: quick, jerky
angles with fast jagged cuts, perfect for music videos. Both styles, however, do poorly in
war coverage. NPPA can not keep up with the drama, reality, speed, and intensity of the

battlefield. You simply can not shoot video with a tripod on a HUMVEE. The MTVstyle is a fantasy, it’s not designed to capture and retransmit a hyper-reality like combat.
The quit cuts and jagged angles interfere with the narrative of the story.
Interestingly, producing TV news with “cinematic”-style and documentarymaking in general have negative reputations in American television newsrooms. Woe to
the reporter who puts too many “creative” touches on a story. An often-heard insult is,
“What are you doing in there, making a documentary?” or “We don’t have time for all
your creative stuff in this piece,” or “We’re light and we need some fill, can you do one
of your creative pieces?” I have heard all of these comments in my years as a producer
and reporter for television news.
But back to the French newscasts, TV 2 had several examples of Iraqi civilian
casualties and US casualties. I did not see examples of protesters. And at this point, I did
not see any examples from French television that portrayed the US in a negative light.

Russia’s Vremya TV was by far the worst news production, in terms of
transmitting an effective message with video. Vremya, with the exception of Iraq, also
had the worst production quality. The only thing clear about the message on Vremya TV
was the disdainful way the news anchors pronounced “Amerikansky” at the beginning of
the war. Of all the anti-American sentiment I saw (almost all done by Iraq), the
pronunciation of “Amerikansky” by the Russians was the most disrespectful and
unprofessional, and I will go as far to say, alarming.
Vremya TV news does an abysmal job at using video to tell a story. There is no
continuity, they “stack medium shots,” in other words, there is no variety or sequencing

to the video. They reuse video in sections of news that clearly do not fit.

Most of the

video they air is taken straight off “wild feeds” from other networks. Their own graphics
are terrible, which makes the animation that they steal from other sources look
outlandish. The news set is unimaginative at best, the only attempt at “technology” is a
rear screen, flat panel monitor that looks out of place in all the kitsch. Their female news
anchor was wearing the most awful and outdated “news costume.”
The content seemed to be focused on the damage the coalition forces were
causing to civilians. Most domestic stories were reaction from government officials on
the war. In one newscast, Vladimir Putin was shown speaking in a meeting that was
unedited and unfiltered, it simply ran on for about seven minutes. This may show that the
President can command a sizable chunk of a newscast on request, but it does not add to
the entertainment value. It did not appear that Vremya had a large contingent in theater
to cover the war, this and the low-brow production quality adds credence to researchers
who site the budget problems of Russian media.

The country which is one of the last bastions of Communism surprisingly has one
of the best television news operations of the sample. CCTV-1 is highly sophisticated.
The video quality, videography, and editing are excellent. The Chinese have learned to
use video to tell a story and they have mastered the “rhythm” of editing. Unfortunately,
they have yet to figure out the use of natural sound. Their stories sometimes take on the
“video wallpaper” effect of too many shots with no ambient sound to supplement the
television experience. Although the sheer exuberance, quantity, and variety of their
video is astounding. The news packages are long and filled with different types of

locales. The Chinese use the MTV-style for much of their news stories, even on the most
mundane topics. Quick cutting and editing is the norm; shots rarely stay on screen for
more than three seconds.
The war in Iraq lead the newscasts at the beginning, but then returned to the
middle of the newscasts as the war developed. Most stories focused on Chinese
economic growth and development. There is definitely a theme on CCTV that “China is
a great place to live.” And that theme is contrasted with images of how the US is waging
an aggressive war and destroying another country, while China is portrayed as steadily
prospering and creating new jobs. CCTV did not have any live reports from Iraq that I
saw, but one of their reporters was at the mall that was damaged by an Iraqi missile and
filed a “look-live” report. I saw no sign of any overt anti-American sentiment.

Qatar (al Jazeerah)
Al Jazeerah is the most advanced news production of the Middle Eastern
countries in this sample and it is echelons above Russia in production capability. The
intro to the newscast is a very slick production, with layered video, dissolves, catchy
music (best music of the sample) and really good war audio from bombs, howitzers, and
other gunfire. The maps and graphics are fair and the newscast itself could be tighter as
it flows fairly slowly by US standards. Al Jazeerah has live shot capability and they use
it very well. The live reporter spoke naturally and even showed some very graphic still
pictures of non-combatants killed by coalition forces. The natural sound on the rest of
the newscasts was not the same as in the intro. Like CCTV, al Jazeerah staffers have not
learned to combine natural sound with video. But their videographers are talented, if a
bit graphic.

Al Jazeerah satellite news is shock TV. They used the most bloody and violent
imagery of the war. Most of it focused on Iraqi civilians, especially children at the
morgues and hospitals. Blood, cuts, close ups of terrible wounds, all are fair game. Al
Jazeerah also showed US casualties on a regular basis. Other than the obvious negative
connotation of US led forces destroying Iraqi homes and killing civilians, I saw no overt
instances of anti-American sentiment.

Iraq is an interesting case because it still managed to put out a very effective
propaganda signal very deep into the war. They won no style points while doing it. The
set obviously looked like it had been thrown together last minute, which it probably was,
since Baghdad TV was constantly on the move during allied bombing. The anchor was
obviously not a professional, he looked nervous and out of place. The Iraqis had no
video available on the current combat (or they did not want to show it). In its place the
anchor simply read from prepared scripts. There were some packaged video stories on
the latest from Palestine, where the Baath Party was still trying to make a connection with
the Palestinian struggle with Israel. They had several protest stories from the
International group in Baghdad promoting peace and a multi-national Muslim group
protesting for peace. There were numerous signs like, “Bush is a terrorist” or “USA is an
enemy of the peace.” All interviewees were children. Obviously, Iraq is the best
example of propaganda in the sample.

Iranian television news is low-budget and low-frills and also the hardest newscast
of the sample to get a handle on. The set looks like Russia Vremya-TV. No natural

sound in the video. A lot of the international video is taken from Reuters or other
agencies. There are no reporter packages, just voiced over video. Iran was the only
country to do a story on the readiness of its own military. War protests and meetings
with the Ayatollahs are popular themes.

It is difficult to tell which media theory categories will emerge at this early stage. My
observations have really been based on the literature review and watching some of the
video of the newscasts without translations. Some themes have emerged from the
different countries. France definitely has the sophistication and independence to frame a
particular issue or even have a “CNN effect” to push a particular agenda or policy. They
are the best equipped culturally, in terms of cinematic artistic style, to cover a war. It
seems in this war that the French television news media is operating in what Hallin called
the sphere of consensus, and the French government is probably not affected that much
by what the media says. That is not to say French TV news would have the same effect
on say, French policy in and French troops in Liberia or the Ivory Coast. It would
perhaps have a different role if there was policy uncertainty, elite dissensus, or French
casualties in those conflicts.
Russia is a case for manufactures consent-where the media mobilizes support for
the policy of the elites or even media agenda setting-where the media tells the public
what to think about.
China also is an example of media agenda setting or manufactures consent. The
government has definite ideas about what they want the public to think about—themes
like economic development or technology growth. Although some programs in China are

using the CNN effect to reform various aspects of government, this is rare. Chinese
media may have more ability to frame the debate when there is policy uncertainty, but
that remains to be seen.
Qatar’s Al Jazeerah—framing and the CNN effect. Al Jazeerah is sophisticated
and controversial and it knows how to put an issue in a certain light for maximum
controversy and debate. CNN effect because it is spawning democratic reform simply
because leaders of Middle Eastern countries do not want Al Jazeerah to be the only voice
of dissent, so they will eventually allow more dissent and press freedom in their
Iran—Manufacturers consent but with a lot of policy uncertainty. This is a case
to watch. It is not clear who will win the conservative versus moderate debate and if
Iranian TV will play a part in policy-media interaction, where they would start framing
issues and taking sides amidst the elite dissensus. Currently Iran is experiencing
manufacturers consent with television news having a non-effect on policy.

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