Date of Award

7-1-2004

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Department

Communication

First Advisor

Dr. Deborah Smith-Howell

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to find how socio-political and cultural aspects influenced international media representation of the September 11 terrorist attacks to the United States. The study compared the results of textual analysis of newspaper editorials from five different countries. Using Worthington (2001) protocol of political activism framing by print media, it was found that the September 11 terrorist attacks were represented distinctively by each of the five newspapers investigated. The underpinning of the theoretical framework for this study is Stuart Hall's encoding and decoding communication model. Stuart Hall (1979, 1980a, 1980c, 1993) postulates that in the communication process, the moments of encoding and decoding of a message are influenced by ideology. Ideology, as defined by Luis Althusser (1971), is a representation of the imaginary relationships of individuals and reality, therefore encapsulating cultural and socio-political aspects. The results of the qualitative textual analysis undertaken showed that issues such as identity, contextual information, visual aspects and sourcing were utilized distinctively by the editorials of the five newspapers to frame the discussions regarding the September 11 terrorist attacks. The September 11 terrorist attacks to New York and Washington D.C. were a timely event where one has to discuss history before and after it. The historical importance of the attacks is a reflex of its international reach, which was only attainable due to the international media coverage. The media-centric nature of the September 11 events calls for a detailed examination of the relationship between media, terrorism, culture and politics in contemporary society. This study found that politics and culture are prominent influences in the way international media encoded the events of September 11.

Comments

A Thesis Presented to the School of Communication and the Faculty of the Graduate College University of Nebraska In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree Master of Arts University of Nebraska at Omaha. Copyright Rodrigo Rodrigues July, 2004.

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