In its search for media influences in violent conflict, most existing scholarship has investigated the coverage of specific, salient conflict events. Media have been shown to focus on violence, sidelining concerns of reconciliation and disengaging rapidly as time proceeds. Studies have documented ethnocentric bias and self-reinforcing media hypes, which have been linked to escalation and radicalization. However, based on the existing studies, it remains hard to gauge if the unearthed patterns of media coverage are generally pervasive or limited to a few salient moments, specific conflicts or contexts. Likewise, we cannot say if different kinds of media apply similar styles of conflict coverage, or if their coverage is subject to specific contextual or outlet-specific factors. In this article, the authors compare the contents of both domestic and foreign opinion-leading media coverage across six selected conflicts over a time range of 4 to 10 years. They conduct a diachronic, comparative analysis of 3,700 semantic concepts raised in almost 900,000 news texts from 66 different news media. Based on this analysis, they trace when and to what extent each outlet focuses its attention on the conflict, highlights specific aspects (notably, violence and suffering, negotiations and peaceful solutions), and presents relevant in- and out-groups, applying different kinds of evaluation. The analysis generally corroborates the media’s tendency to cover conflict in an event-oriented, violence-focused and ethnocentric manner, both during routine periods and – exacerbated merely by degrees – during major escalation. At the same time, the analysis highlights important differences in the strength and appearance of these patterns, and points to recurrent contingencies that can be tied to the specific contextual factors and general journalistic logics shaping the coverage.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
We are indebted to numerous members of the INFOCORE project consortium who have contributed to constructing and implementing the automated coding dictionary, most notably (in alphabetic order), Tali Aharoni, Maéva Clément, Patricia Gautier, Yonatan Gonen, Beatriz Herrero, Marc Jungblut, Yuval Katz, Igor Micevski, Cristina Monzer, Asmahan Simry, and Katsiaryna Stalpouskaya; who have contributed to the definition and collection of the media sample, most notably, Anke Fiedler, Marie-Soleil Frére, and Snezana Trpevska; and to Christoph Meyer and all others who have provided valuable commentary on prior versions of the manuscript. The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article: This research has been supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration under Grant Agreements Nos 613308 (INFOCORE) and 627682 (RECORD).
The author(s) disclosed receipt of the following financial support for the research, authorship, and/ or publication of this article: This research has been supported by the European Union’s Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological Development and Demonstration under Grant Agreements Nos 613308 (INFOCORE) and 627682 (RECORD).
© 2017, © The Author(s) 2017.
- comparative analysis
- conflict news
- longitudinal content analysis
- peace journalism
- violence focus