"Nationalising" Foreign Conflict : Foreign Policy Orientation as a Factor in Television News Reporting
Sammanfattning: This study explores the notion that national television news covers foreign conflicts in ways that reflect a country's foreign policy orientation and its stance towards that particular conflict. Sweden and Britain were chosen for comparison since both are European countries with similar public service broadcasting systems, but with different foreign policy orientations and positions in the international system. Four cases were chosen to determine empirically how and to what extent aspects of these foreign policy orientations were relevant for foreign conflict news images.The theorefical frarnework sketched three types of factors which could contribute to the image of foreign conflicts in national television news: the foreign policy orientation (societal/political factors), an international media culture (media factors) and a national journalist culture (media norms in a societal context). Both quantitative and qualitative content analyses were used to test if Swedish Rapport and British 9 O´Clock News differed along four dimensions: whether they set conflicts in a superpower or regional context, whether they focused on the military or civilian aspects of the conflict, whether they gave more attention to Great Power actors or international/regional organisations, and whether they evaluated the contenders differently.The results indicate that Rapport and the 9 O´Clock News differed most in the quantity and intensity of attention to these four conflicts, This was taken to mean that journalists' notions of proximity/relevance coincided with the foreign policy relevance of these conflicts. Secondly, Rapport gave consistently more attention to the regional contexts of conflicts, to the negative aspects of the civilian reaction and situation, and the aggressor was depicted in a more negative light in all four conflicts. The 9 O'Clock News tended to include more details of the military hostilities and there was a more cautious evaluation of the aggressor than in Rapport. The four cases show that the greater the foreign policy involvement of the country, the greater the number of foreign policy aspects were employed by television news to make sense of the conflicts.The results also supported previous research emphasising international similarities in the overall narrative structure of the news. These similarities were attributed to journalistic genres for reporting armed conflict. One possible explanation for different national perspectives on these conflicts is that societal norms get "translated" into media norms. Future research should thus look more closely at the interaction between societal and media factors-different national journalist cultures, in order to fully understand the way foreign conflicts are "nationalised".
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