Pockets of Resistance: British News Media, War and Theory in the 2003 Invasion of Iraq

Overview


For scholars of media and war, the 2003 invasion of Iraq is a compelling case to study. As part of President Bush?s "war on terror," the invasion was the most controversial British foreign policy decision since Suez, and its ramifications and aftermath have rarely been far from the news. In the many political and public debates regarding this conflict, arguments over the role of the media have been omnipresent. For some, media coverage was biased against the war, for others it became a cheerleader for the ...
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Overview


For scholars of media and war, the 2003 invasion of Iraq is a compelling case to study. As part of President Bush’s "war on terror," the invasion was the most controversial British foreign policy decision since Suez, and its ramifications and aftermath have rarely been far from the news. In the many political and public debates regarding this conflict, arguments over the role of the media have been omnipresent. For some, media coverage was biased against the war, for others it became a cheerleader for the invasion. Where does the truth lie? Drawing upon a uniquely-detailed and rich content and framing analysis of television and press coverage, and on interviews with some of the journalists involved, Pockets of Resistance provides an authoritative assessment of how British news media reported the 2003 Iraq invasion and also of the theoretical implications of this case for our understanding of wartime media-state relations.  Pockets of Resistance examines the successes and failures of British television news as it sought to attain independence under the difficult circumstances of war, and describes and explains the emergence of some surprisingly vociferous anti-war voices within a diverse national press. In debunking political claims of anti-war media bias, as well as portraying media-state relations in a more nuanced fashion than in most existing accounts in the field, this study offers a theoretically-grounded starting point for a more nuanced understanding of how and why media report war in the way that they do. Essential reading for scholars, advanced students, journalists and policy makers.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Like war itself the academic study of media performance in times of war is no less fraught with contending interpretations and opposing claims. Are the media elite driven, independent or oppositional, or possibly all three under changing conditions?  Pockets of Resistance, through careful empirical analysis and lucid argument focused on the Iraq invasion of 2003, intervenes into the heart of contemporary debates about media, democracy and legitimised killing and death. An important new landmark and essential vantage point on the contested field of media and war studies." --Simon Cottle, Professor of Media and Communications, Cardiff University
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780719084454
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Publication date: 12/15/2010
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author


Piers Robinson is Senior Lecturer in International Politics at the University of Manchester. Peter Goddard is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Liverpool. Katy Parry is Research Assistant in the Department of Communication and Media at the University of Liverpool. Craig Murray is head of Media Analysis at Opoint AS, Norway. Philip M. Taylor is Professor of Internal Communications at the Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds. Philip M. Taylor is Professor of Internal Communications at the Institute of Communication Studies, University of Leeds.
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Table of Contents


Preface and acknowledgments
• Introduction
• Mobilising for battle: The news media and war from Vietnam to Iraq *  Theorising and analysing media performance in wartime
• Placing coverage of the invasion in context
• ‘Supporting our boys in battle’: Evidence for supportive coverage and the elite-driven model
• ‘Independence, diversity and professional autonomy’: Evidence for negotiated and oppositional coverage * Case studies from the invasion of Iraq: Jessica Lynch, Ali Abbas and the anti-war movement
• Conclusion: Patterns of support, negotiation and opposition
• Bibliography
• Appendices:
• Further information about the content and framing analysis
• Examples of the detailed criteria provided to coders for assessing thematic frames
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  • Posted August 14, 2012

    I Also Recommend:

    Superb study of the British news media¿s coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

    This is a magnificent study of the British news media’s coverage of the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It is extremely thorough, methodologically sound, and well-researched. The authors find, “the intensification of media-management operations has counterbalanced any empowering effects that might have occurred as a result of the end of the cold war and developments in communication technology.” They note that the government’s favoured rationale for war was ‘humanitarian’. But, as they observe, “With the Iraq War, humanitarianism became a central theme in promoting a war that was not being driven by humanitarian imperatives.” How many civilian deaths does it take to disqualify a war as ‘humanitarian’? 100,000, the minimum estimate for Iraqi deaths? Or 900,000, the Lancet’s estimate? Only the USA and Britain, it seems, are allowed ‘humanitarian’ wars. The British state still has the imperial assumption of its right, even its duty, to intervene in other countries’ internal affairs. Its case boils down to ‘we goodies save ordinary people from foreign, dark-skinned baddies.’ This is to break international law, which prioritises the maintenance of peace between nations, respecting nations’ sovereignty and independence. So our ‘independent’ TV and press don’t dismiss international law - they don’t even mention it. The government and media are so unsure of their case that they have to deny the opposition a voice. This is like a court which hears only one side of the case. The media use cues like ‘controversial’, applied to opponents, never to the state’s case, however few people back it. On the public response to the maiming of Ali Abbas, the Daily Mirror editorialised, “The British don’t just have the best fighting forces in the world. They have the greatest compassion too.” So after our armed forces blow the child’s arms off, we are supposed to pat ourselves on the back because we had a whip-round for him. The Mirror showed the greatest, ugliest, self-congratulation too. The authors cite Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil.” The British state promotes the ‘Responsibility To Protect’ - R2P, to which we should add OPO – Other People’s Oil. Iraq, like Haiti, Honduras, the Congo and so many other countries, has been reduced to chaos, where only the key resources are secure, and token elections are a fig leaf for dictatorship. Iraq should have buried the notion of the British state’s benevolent intent and effects. The authors conclude, “In sum, the essence of supportive reporting of war is patriotic, giving support to the military campaign and viewing it from the perspective of ‘our’ soldiers. Criticism of government and military is minimal, with little attention given to wider political and historical contexts and few images of death reaching press or television bulletins.”

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