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The same fight, a different story : a comparative media framing analysis of the battle of Raqqa in the online coverage of CNN and RT
thesisposted on 2023-05-27, 09:16 authored by Swolfs, LJH
While the watchdog journalism ideal emphasises the importance of critical and objective news coverage to inform citizens and protect the democratic process, the coverage of political conflicts overseas can differ between nations and might reflect the agendas and narratives preferred by respective governments in power. Over the past few years, a rivalry has emerged between the United States and Russia over Syria with each country having conflicting interests in defeating the terrorist organisation Islamic State of Iraq and Syria in its self-declared capital Raqqa. This thesis explores how the largest international news channels in the United States and Russia ‚Äö- CNN and RT ‚Äö- framed the Battle of Raqqa and to what extent their online coverage reflects the narratives of their respective government's foreign policy and ideology. This study not only extends the media framing theory by applying it to a recent conflict but also provides much-needed analysis comparing CNN with RT by directly comparing their online coverage of the defeat of the terrorist organisation in Raqqa. Moreover, it reveals preliminary findings on the under-researched news broadcaster RT. To examine how both news channels framed the battle, this thesis uses Semetko & Valkenburg's (2000) frame taxonomy. The valence of the news frames and the sources have also been analysed. Overall, the study found that CNN framed the battle positively by using the conflict frame to emphasise the importance of the battle, while RT stressed the civilian casualties inflicted by the United States-led coalition by using the responsibility frame, which puts the battle in a negative light. These findings suggest that the coverage of both news channels reflects the agendas and narratives preferred by their respective governments, which raises concerns about the idealised role of journalists as watchdogs of society and may invite accusations of biased reporting.
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