Presentation Title

Watchdogs and Underdogs: Media Narratives of the 2017-18 Qatar Diplomatic Crisis

Faculty Mentor

Chris McMillan

Start Date

17-11-2018 1:30 PM

End Date

17-11-2018 1:45 PM

Location

C155

Session

Oral 3

Type of Presentation

Oral Talk

Subject Area

behavioral_social_sciences

Abstract

Media representations of international conflicts are instrumental in determining how we imagine, evaluate, and discuss conflicts. The Qatar diplomatic crisis, an ongoing international diplomatic conflict between Qatar and a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of nations, has received extensive global media coverage. This study compares British and Qatari media discourse of this crisis, by examining ten news articles from the BBC and Al Jazeera English (AJE) for bias in language based on the respective national contexts. Evidence of agenda-setting, priming, nationalization of discourse, and public diplomacy was revealed in articles from both outlets. AJE, due to its relative political proximity to the conflict, ascribes the diplomatic crisis much more significance than does the BBC. Both outlets also differ in their evaluations of allegations of terrorist-financing against Qatar and the legitimacy of the blockade. These results indicate that media outlets which claim to be impartial are nonetheless influenced by national contexts when reporting on international conflicts. This study is the first to apply previously-established media effects theories and discourse analysis approaches to media representations of the ongoing Qatar crisis and furthers our understanding of power dynamics in narratives of global conflicts.

Summary of research results to be presented

The current study aimed to examine biases in media narratives across national contexts in the case of the Qatar diplomatic crisis. The study resulted in a repository of direct quotes from news articles published by both media outlets that were then analysed for tone and context cues. The following recurring themes were observed: Both the BBC and Al Jazeera (AJE) demonstrate the influence of their individual national contexts (British and Qatari, respectively) in their coverage of the Qatar crisis. AJE ascribes the conflict a lot of significance, reporting on it extensively and presenting the diplomatic blockade as a grave political affair. AJE appears to be much more invested than the BBC in convincing its readers that the blockade is unjust, and that it stifles freedom of the press. The BBC perpetuates ideas about the conflict that are rooted in Orientalist narratives, and does nothing to either contradict or validate accusations of terror-financing levelled against Qatar. On the contrary, AJE repeatedly denies these allegations, and its discourse paints Qatar as an unfairly targeted underdog.

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Nov 17th, 1:30 PM Nov 17th, 1:45 PM

Watchdogs and Underdogs: Media Narratives of the 2017-18 Qatar Diplomatic Crisis

C155

Media representations of international conflicts are instrumental in determining how we imagine, evaluate, and discuss conflicts. The Qatar diplomatic crisis, an ongoing international diplomatic conflict between Qatar and a Saudi Arabia-led coalition of nations, has received extensive global media coverage. This study compares British and Qatari media discourse of this crisis, by examining ten news articles from the BBC and Al Jazeera English (AJE) for bias in language based on the respective national contexts. Evidence of agenda-setting, priming, nationalization of discourse, and public diplomacy was revealed in articles from both outlets. AJE, due to its relative political proximity to the conflict, ascribes the diplomatic crisis much more significance than does the BBC. Both outlets also differ in their evaluations of allegations of terrorist-financing against Qatar and the legitimacy of the blockade. These results indicate that media outlets which claim to be impartial are nonetheless influenced by national contexts when reporting on international conflicts. This study is the first to apply previously-established media effects theories and discourse analysis approaches to media representations of the ongoing Qatar crisis and furthers our understanding of power dynamics in narratives of global conflicts.