Visual War Frames - How was the war in Libya presented in TV news?

TitleVisual War Frames - How was the war in Libya presented in TV news?
Publication TypeConference Paper
Author(s)Boller, E.
Affiliation (1st Author)University of Hamburg, Institute of Journalism & Communication, Allende-Platz 1, 20146 Hamburg Germany
Section or WGCrisis Communication Working Group
DateWed 26 June
Slot CodeCRIW2a
Slot Code (Keyword)CRIW2a
Time of Session11:00-12:30
Session TitleWar, Terrorism, Conflicts and Crisis Communication I
Submission ID5307

The way most people get informed about war is through TV news. More than any other form of information the pictures shown on television form our imagination of what is really going on. These images of war have their own aesthetics. Often it is hard to tell which particular conflict is portrayed only by looking at the film material, since these moving images resemble each other a lot. But how exactly do they look like,, Shaky camera, explosions and dead bodies in combination with military equipment, crying women and shooting rebels? It is time to have a closer look at the film material and the way war is brought to us on screen in the evening news. Nowadays, even if there are no war correspondents to report live from the conflict area, media has the chance to use youtube videos to illustrate the events. But these images are without context. One cannot tell for sure who is filming, with what purpose and what exactly is visible and what maybe not. But how are these uncertainties presented or mentioned in the news? Since one cannot show reality on the screen, one needs to choose a certain frame. War correspondents, especially if they are embedded, need to choose from which side of the conflict they want to report on. Through the moving images and the text certain aspects of what is perceived will be stressed in the TV reporting and certain aspects will not be mentioned. In my survey I want to analyze the ways in which the war in Libya was portrayed in the television news programs “Tagesthemen”, “news at ten” and “le journal de 20 heures”. I want to pay particular attention to the way the war was legitimized or criticized through arguments and visual framing in the three countries (Germany, UK and France). The representation of victim and aggressor, as well as national and gender stereotypes in the TV films will be analyzed. My theoretical perspectives are,, war reporting; constructivism; framing; visual framing and film studies. The empirical basis is a quantitative content analysis of the way the war in Libya was presented in the selected newscasts from February until the end of October 2011. The field work of the study is still in progress; by the time of the conference the results of the German quantitative content analysis (of the whole period) will be available. The first results of a subsequent planned qualitative content analysis of a sample presumably as well.

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