War in Gaza: a cross-cultural analysis of news reporting and reception

2012-07-30T13:34:48Z (GMT) by Nour Shreim
One of the most controversial wars in contemporary history, both in terms of the ideological powers behind it and its continued struggle for over 60 years, is the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The most recent outburst of the conflict, commonly known as the Gaza War, has attracted extensive global media coverage. Employing an interdisciplinary approach, the thesis incorporates an extensive content analysis, to chart patterns and regularities within a large corpus of four broadcast media (namely BBC Arabic, BBC World, Al-Jazeera Arabic and Al-Jazeera English). It then integrates a more interpretative discourse analysis, to investigate the cultural ideas evoked linguistically and, to a lesser extent, visually throughout the coverage. Assuming a qualitative stance, it also draws upon focus groups conducted in Jordan and England to examine the public s knowledge and understandings of the events on the ground, in addition to their evaluation of both organisations levels of objectivity and impartiality. To allow for a comparative dimension, the thesis develops two frames of analysis that systematically looks at two recurring themes and scrutinises their discursive strategies and functions in the construction of meaning and ideology. These include Provocation, which examines questions of responsibility and culpability; and Proportionality which embraces matters of legitimacy and authority in relation to the humanitarian aspect of the war. The findings indicate that the actions of a protagonist may be deemed legitimate with regard to provocation, but illegitimate with regard to their proportionality. The peculiar circumstances of the war pushed the media in the direction of greater separation from the predominant ideologies ensued by the Israeli Army. It suggests that both networks lack a coherent discursive strategy at the level of the lexical in their reporting of Gaza. The empirical findings also confirm that meanings devised by viewers are pertinent to their behaviours, attitudes and beliefs. This conceptualisation formulated three readings shaped by political, cultural and social formations: an oppositional (counter-hegemonic) reading, a dominant reading and a subliminal (sub-conscious) reading.