One war, two different perspectives: Identifying the main news sources in the coverage of the 2003 war in Iraq by Al-Jazeera and CNN

Saraj, Amel Hussein
Mercer, Brad
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Master of Arts (Communication Studies)
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Auckland University of Technology

This thesis seeks to identify the main sources of news in the coverage of the 2003 war in Iraq by the Arab channel Al-Jazeera and CNN. It distinguishes the news sources that journalists of CNN and Al-Jazeera have depended on while covering or reporting the events of the war and examines why they gave more airtime to certain news sources than others. Content analysis is used as the main research method and the Glasgow University Media Group’s work is adopted as a model. The data for the research is five prime time news hours chosen from five-day intervals during the war from the coverage by both channels. This study also examines the two channels’ different perspectives towards the event. This takes into account their histories, their stated position regarding their role and their editorial practices. At the same time there will be an attempt to further contextualize this issue by looking at the flow of the world news across borders, the development of Arab media before and after the emergence of satellite broadcasting and by briefly reviewing the history of Western media war reportage. The thesis concludes that the main sources on CNN were the ‘coalition’ military and official sources. By contrast, Al-Jazeera’s coverage gave almost equal time to other perspectives such as anti-war voices and ‘independent’ analysts. Consequently it is argued that Al-Jazeera’s coverage was more balanced and multiperspectival.

Al Jazeera (Television network) Cable News Network , Iraq War, 2003-2011 -- Mass media and the war
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