Media goes Nuclear; The Orientalist construction of Iran in The New York Times
This research project engages with Edward Said’s study of Orientalism to investigate the dichotomy of “us vs. them”, West vs. East and Occident vs. the Orient of Iran in relation to United States media, in particular in the New York Times. This study is primarily focused on how Iran is represented as the Orient in the framing and agenda of newspaper articles.
For this thesis, six articles have been chosen for analysis to research how the manner of Orientalism is applied in The New York Times. Whilst, examining the six articles four main themes were recognized, which included; Language of threat, Islam as the alien Other, The voice of authority and finally- Isolating the Quarantine.
The study of Critical Discourse Analysis, in regards to social action, was used to discover how Orientalism was operationalized. The identity of Iran as the “Other” and America’s identity of itself, in particular, was shaped through the concept of “Orientalism”.
Orientalism was achieved due to the Occident’s suppression of the Orients voice. The Orientalist perception of Iran as ‘irrational’/ ‘inferior’/ ‘threat’ was legitimized through the voice of authority. The texts analysed, engaged with Stuart Hall’s theory; where language of “difference” was used to reinforce the formation of the discourse of Iran vs. “West”. The articles reinforce the absence of rationality and civil society in Iran, furthermore underpinning Said’s agreement about “Western superiority” and “Oriental inferiority”.
The concept of bias in newspapers has been a topic of intense debate in the past, present and will undoubtedly continue to be so as long as people have opinions. This becomes even more problematic where war and conflict coverage is concerned; whom do you support? Who do you stand against? How do you portray this to justify the position you hold?
Israel and Palestine have seen some of the most dichotomised journalistic practices towards their conflict, with newspapers stressing the importance of Israel being able to defend itself and with other newspapers highlighting the significance to stand with the Palestinian people and their plight. Literature has concluded that there was no bias in the coverage of the First and Second Intifada, but there’s also been literature that states that the Palestinian point-of-view is not explored in enough detail. Operation Protective Edge, Israel’s 2014 military campaign into Gaza, reminded the world that it’s not over; peace is still not in sight. There is no literature on this particular operation and its construction within the Western world, and this research aims to discuss how both The Times and the Daily Mail framed Israel and guided it along a defensive stance; justifying the need to defend itself by indiscriminately bombing innocent civilians in the hope of exterminating Hamas militants. Some news sources could be understood to support Palestinian revolt. Nonetheless, a Western pro-democracy/anti-terrorist rhetoric is reflected, from the language used to discuss Hamas, to the opinions placed next to articles discussing the killings of four children on a beach in Gaza. Awareness of these techniques is important if future news reports are to be truly neutral towards highly emotionally-charged event.