To What Extent The Western Media Shape the Vision of the War on Terrorism in the Middle-East Since the Iraq War
The US invasion of Iraq, assisted and supported by the UK and Australia, was considered as one of the most controversial decisions to intervene in the Middle East. During this war, the media played an important role. According to many, the information and images that came through this medium influenced war decisions. A few decades earlier in the Vietnam war, the media’s coverage was blamed to be among the main factors that turned the American public against the war. Propaganda and disinformation are used to influence the host or the target people’s beliefs and opinions. It has been used before as a strategy to shape perspectives, in a way that the people do not perceive being manipulated. The media became a perfect tool for the purpose. Today terrorism and the mass media are intertwined in a relationship that can be called mutually beneficial. The media takes advantage of the anxiety and confusion triggered by terrorist attacks to produce sensationalised and dramatic news in order to draw readers and viewers, whereas the terrorists plan the target, scale, timing and location of their attacks to intentionally gather media attention. The tone or focus of the coverage is highly influential in generating public outrage that can lead to government level response. With advancement in digital media, war and terrorism are reported in an even more sensationalised manner. Selective highlighting of particular events leaves a greater impact on readers and viewers are more likely to identify and relate to victims that “look more like them”. In the media’s coverage of recent Middle-East conflicts such as Syria, the rebels side has been particularly highlighted to the point where President Obama admitted the pressure on him to intervene, despite knowing that the outcomes could be uncertain. The people killed in Congo, for example, did not generate the same pressure on the government to intervene. Similarly, in the case of Afghanistan, western audiences receive a very skewed vision of the war due to the media’s tendency of relying on one side of the information, failing to criticize their own government’s policy. The thesis, therefore, seeks to study the impact western media coverage has had on the vision of both western audiences and policy-makers for the middle-east and makes uses of several studies and multivariate data analyses to demonstrate that the media is not only a passive medium to share information, but a key player that shapes people’s perceptions of the reality of war.