But thats the money maker. The mass media may hide things and they may create fallacies like Wag the Dog from time to time, but the media is essentially about money. If, for example, the President seems to want a more homey-lets-not-worry-about-things kind of attitude, then the media will portray that attitude because, and this is the kicker, even though they are protected by the First Amendment and the whole freedom of speech thing, they have to write the perspective that sells.
Now, recentism may sell when the war was happening five years ago, but as the conflicts rage on, the public agenda isnt to promote war”at all. If the President was sitting in his nice big white house and promoting the war while American soldiers pile up by the body bag, then the President isnt doing very good at his job. Very soon, if all people saw was mass conflict, death, and horrible destruction, someone would have a gun to the white house to get a better leader on that golden throne.
However, if a little battle leaks out from time to time, and the media as a whole is on the story with the same, homogenous mono-headlines, then the public will see that there was an uprising, yes. But, if that uprising isnt mentioned again, or it blows away like so many things after a few weeks of nothing new being reported, the public will be lulled into thinking that everything is okay and that it was just a simple little uprising. No big deal. Sure some American soldiers were sent home with flags on their caskets, but they died heroes.
Purple hearts, parades, and fancy color-guard funerals. Thats what the people see. Even though the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been raging for, what ladies and gentlemen, more than fifty (more like hundreds) years, is the American public even aware that the peoples in those warring nations have been at war, bombs in the streets, children murdered, every day for as long as most of this generation has been alive? Nope. For the most part, the American public is kept in the dark.
So dark that the current issue in Iraq (when was the last time the war on terror actually scared the public?) has even lost its juice. Terror is just a word now. Not scary, not vengeful. Just another word that has been so drilled into the minds of the public that raising the terror alert does no more for people than if the pollen count went into the red zone. People are so in the dark that when nine soldiers died just days ago (Londono) that most people didnt even raise an eyebrow, because whats the big deal with losing nine measly soldiers if the country is over on foreign land playing the philanthropic hand with democracy?
Big numbers are the only things that count. Nine soldiers dead in what seems like six years (since 9/11) is nearly negligible. This is tangenting now, strictly for reasons of importance, but only Alertnet. com tallies up the body count at 3,170 US soldiers dead since the war began in the same article, (well, in the middle third of the story but at least it was mentioned) as the report on the nine dead soldiers. Now thats a number worth hearing. But how many news reports call that fairly alarmingly number up? Not many.
Actually, most striking was the amount of anti-war sites that call up the numbers, some counting American casualties as high as 23,000 (Griffis) since the war officially began in 2003. Now that number would catch some eyebrows. Freak people out, get them burning bras for peace, not war. But the President doesnt want that. The government certainly doesnt want that. And perhaps this is why the media keeps the death stories on the hush-hush. Frame it in a way that makes the country feel safer as a whole. Only a few soldiers are killed at a time, so the tally seems insignificant in the broader scheme of things.
And thus the public agenda is to get Americans back to their daily lives, where war doesnt exist and heiresses get caught too often without their underwear as the paparazzi catch them at some new celebritys bar. But thats just a recent example of how the media skews things to keep the public agenda on the right track, lest things derail. And by golly it was a tangent of importance because if a war so dear to the hearts of Americans is lost in the media hoopla, how does a war like the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is a vastly different scale, even stand a chance at global comprehension?
Well, it doesnt. And, it is perhaps the most notable war of any ever fought since times too ancient to remember. Data Collection. The data collected for this report has been a combination of news reports and Wikipedia articles. The news reports were chosen because they are exactly what the public is able to view on a daily basis and are taken with complete seriousness to report the truth of the news (sounded like a joke, didnt it? ). As a whole, the news reports can be compared and contrasted for similar headlines, feature points, pictures, and opinionated slants.
For the most part, articles have been used from the Vanderbilt Television News Archive, and it is interesting to note that the most current evening news report is dated 12/06/2006. This could be an error on Vanderbilts part; perhaps they havent updated their news archive since then, but it is much more likely that Vanderbilt has the most current news out there, which actually serves as a perfect example of how the media has prioritized this conflict in the news. No news, for Americans, can be construed as good news, even if the conflict rages on.
Wikipedia articles were also reviewed, though not for the charts in the analysis of the data collection, because the Wikipedia has undeniably become something akin to the Encyclopedia Britannica of earlier years. While the articles are not purely scholarly or always written by PHD subject enthusiasts, the articles are highly peer-monitored and perhaps more free in what they are able to speak out about than a regular news article with advertisers to please and bosses with the weight of the powers that be on their shoulders.
Finally, a totally independent site, dubbed Angel for Israel, has been reviewed because it has a catalogue of news articles chosen from recent years in an attempt to showcase the very issue of media framing and public agenda. The site even goes deeper to debunk the myths, expose the media propaganda, and review common misconceptions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. While not everything on this site can be truly confirmed as to authoritative authenticity, the news articles are complete, unedited and link back to their original news source.
So, a wide cross section has been chosen for data collection so that a slant of some sort can be gathered, tethered, and plumped for show. And, for editorial purposes, the full headlines and dates used for the purposes of the charts in the Analysis are presented as raw data in the Appendix. Analysis. Its always fun to chart and show, so the data collected has been put through the supercomputer to explain how the media portrays highly sensitive (i. e. death, war, terror) news as a homogenous chunk of untitillating information to the uninformed and unconcerned public.
So lets delve. First, its easy to simply compare and contrast news headlines for homogenous information to depict and conclusively prove framing of the public agenda by the media. Looking at the Angel for Israel 2005 News Archive, there are 21 news articles with similar headlines. The first ten headlines for comparison are: Female Suicide Bomber Explodes at Erez Crossing, Killing Four Israelis Hamas Woman Bomber Kills Israelis Suicide Attack on Jerusalem Bus Hamas Threatens Soldier Kidnaps Suicide Bomber Kills 10 Israelis.
Prisoners Freed as Bomb Kills 10 in Israel Suicide Bomber Hits Jerusalem Bus Suicide Bomber Kills 8 in Jerusalem Terrorists Infiltrate Erez Industrial Area, Killing Israeli Soldier Couple Killed in their Car Between Hebron and Beersheba, Terrorism Suspected Now, looking at the headlines, it can be said that the reports are straight and as to the point as they could be when it came down to writing the headline for the news. The problem is that the headlines are so similar that it can have a deadening effect on the public agenda.
Seeing a word over and over, the word no longer has the same meaning that it did the first time it was seen. For example, the word suicide is used five times out of ten headlines, all having taken place between a month or so period. The word kills (and forms of it like killing) is used in the same news headlines seven times out of ten. If these were the only headlines, which they might very well be, from this period in January and February 2004, the chance is that the public will read one and miss the others because though they all discuss different events, they read as nearly the same.
So, nine stories would be missed simply because of a redundancy factor that happens, for reasons probably planned and perfectly executed. That same public then believes that the violence isnt so wide-spread because of the same framing phenomena that occurs when no news is reported. If the headlines read a bit differently then these ten conflicts and acts of terror could be read and understood and ten separate issues of violence and horror. But, as they are, they lose their potential for a reader to feel any sort of fear because of their homogenous nature.
Moreover, the repetitive nature of the headlines does more than just numb a reader to their very existence and meaning, reading or hearing the same word over and over loses much more than that. Words, by their very reality, have inherent meanings to viewers in regards to reaction and understanding. For example, when the President first coined the phrase war on terror, the American public had the appropriate reaction and felt the same need for vengeance and duty as the words permit. Now, six years later, hearing the war on terror has a completely opposite effect on the public.
It has become a common, annoying phrase even, because it has lost all meaning both symbolically and literally. Vengeance has not been achieved, no retribution for the war on terror has been sought. And symbolically, no ballads have been created to promote any sort of American pride or glory. Basically, the only thing come of this phrase is that it is said so often it means nothing. And now, any time the public reads the words war on terror they unconsciously close their eyes or ears to any further understanding because it means nothing anymore.
Clever, the mass media, for using the war on terror in such a manner that it becomes nothing more important than the rising gas prices during the hot summer months. Moreover, one thing that stands out right away is the use of certain words that prevail in most all if the articles. So, lets take a deeper look at the most prevalent words and how often they are used overall. Out of those same ten headlines, the word kills and suicide are the most influential and hold the most power over a reader, but a few other words are used often enough to draw attention for analysis. These are the words:
Kills (killing, killed) used 7 times Suicide used 5 times Explodes used 1 time Attack used 1 time Threatens used 1 time Kidnaps used 1 time Freed used 1 time Hits used 7 times Terrorists (terrorism) used 2 times Infiltrate used 1 time On a side note, proper website and content search engine optimization relies on the ability of a writer to get the meaning of something across while also adding in the proper words to also get the attention, subliminally, of that reader or search engine. The key is that with 200 words of text, 8% of that text must be used for each main keyword.
This means that at least 16 words out of 200 words must be utilized for one main keyword. For example, if an article were written on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and the keyword that article was hoping to subliminally infiltrate into the reader were suicide, then suicide would have to appear 16 times in 200 words of text. The exact same formula is used in reporting and even broadcast media like advertising. Ever hear of the Energizer Bunny? Or that truly annoying Head On commercial promoting direct application of a lube-like substance for migraines?
The reason commercials do well with the public is that even though they may lose all meaning simply from being repeated so often, repetition for products is the only thing that really sinks in enough for that public to remember what product they wanted when they get to Wal-Mart. With that said, it is easy to see why some words, the words with seemingly the most power, are used more often than others, especially in the print media. And, in an interesting phenomena known as media framing, it actually tends to have the opposite effect on readers.
People dont read the news in the same way that they view a commercial. A different part of the brain is used, and a more mechanical side of that person takes note of different things when viewing a commercial versus reading a news article, which is something having much to do with emotion. Emotion in advertising is a draw to get a listener or reader to want, no need, that product. Repetition in this case hinges on the emotion that product is able promote, to get inside the heart of the person. Because, more often than not, people buy something because they want it, not because they need it.
However, emotion is generally not a thing possessed by headlines, but headlines are usually crafted with some attention getter in mind. After all, if they werent written for a person to be interested enough to read, then they wouldnt get read at all. And, looking at the same ten headlines, it can almost be said that they were cleverly crafted to not get read at all, especially because of their exclusively homogenous theme running throughout. Now, to see if this theory really stands on its feet, lets take a look at the top ten headlines from the 1997-1998 Angel for Israel News Archive. These are the ten headlines:
Unilateral Measures Taken by the Palestinian Authority in Violation of Oslo Palestinian Authoritys Failure to Quell the Riots in Hebron Violates the Accord PLOs Hiring of 150 Terrorists as Policemen is Blatant Violation of Oslo Palestinian Authority Failed to Fulfill its Commitment Under the Hebron Accord 18 Killed in Jerusalem Attack Palestinian Incitement to Violence Since Oslo A Four-Year Compendium Pronouncements by Muslim Religious Leaders Defending Suicide Attacks Palestinian Security Commitments Palestinian Anti-Semitism Prison or Hotel? PLOs Open Door Jail Sheltered Jerusalem Bombers from Israel.
Now, one thing in looking at these headlines is that although the conflict can be said to undeniably the same in regards to death, suicide bombers, and the level of terrorism, these articles have very little to do with reporting that issue. Instead, they promote the Palestinian government and its ability to quell the violence and attacks. And, this time when a bit of violence is mentioned, it stands out enough that people can read it, then read the next news about that violence being stamped out and come to an understanding that their government is doing everything in its power to take control of the country and make things safe.
Moreover, each instance of violence is discussed and defended or sheltered. While these are probably the most insane and contradictory headlines of the year, they actually show a bit about the society of the time and what the public agenda was. Cleary, this was a time of being unable to admit that terrorism was a real thing, a real threat to communities even though they had been fighting a war for some hundred years. The same headlines were probably used when the United States first saw terrorist attacks, before the events of 9/11.
Terrorism wasnt even a word, or a word often used in the common vernacular, before the real attacks began, because the media didnt want the readership to feel threaten. This way, by keeping such terms on the down low, or by making them look like flukes, easily put down by the government, the media could control the public agenda and make them believe that such things were easily enough thwarted that there was no need to worry. In an effort for fairness and uniformity, these same ten headlines will now be looked over for words of repetition. These are the main words: Authority used 3 times Violation used 2 times Quell used 1 time.
Commitments used 2 times Killed used 1 time Terror used 1 time Attack used 2 times Violence used 1 time Suicide used 1 time Defending used 1 time Sheltered used 1 time From these keywords, it is easy to conclude that the public agenda was much different for the mass media than it was in 2004. These years (1997-1998) were much more about promoting the government and putting down the terrorism enough that it didnt even seem to exist. And in instances where they could do nothing but report it, the same headlines quell it or defend the terrorism to make the public believe that the situation is much different than it is.
But thats the purpose of framing in the media. And, from these examples, they have their job down. Summary and Conclusion. Well, the data doesnt lie. Whoever controls the media (and someone does, be sure of that) controls the public agenda and what is dolled out as information as well as the why, when, and how of things. The simple fact is this: the news is not reliable. For the real numbers, perhaps only the fan sites tell the truth of things because freedom of speech still exists on the internet, if no where else.
Now, not all sites and sources online are to be trusted and blah, blah, blah, but is the published report or the prime time special with Barbara Walters to be trusted either? Who can be trusted when it comes to the cold, hard, nitty-gritty truth? Well, the one thing that the American public can trust is themselves (for those willing to listen, at least). Freedom of speech was granted for the media to tell the tales they wanted to tell when the aristocracy got a little grabby, but times have changed and so has the media. Now, the only real media is the media and press that makes the most money.
Without money, even small town newspapers and stations fail, and they might be the only source of news for miles around. One would think that readership would boost things a bit, but the real money is handed out by advertisers who want certain things printed and certain things revealed as deemed fit by the big guys in charge of the nation. And those big guys only share information as framed specifically for the public agenda. Its their job. The sad truth is that the dog is wagging its tail here, vigorously, but the American public doesnt even know what that means. Appendix. From the 1997-1998 Angel for Israel News Archive:
1997-1998 Unilateral Measures Taken By the Palestinian Authority In Violation of Oslo Provided by the Government Press Office 1997 Palestinian Authoritys Failure To Quell The Riots in Hebron Violates The Accord Provided by the Government Press Office PLOS Hiring of 150 Terrorists as Policemen Is Blatant Violation of Oslo July 1, 1997 Palestinian Authority Failed To Fulfill Its Commitments Under the Hebron Accord Provided by the Government Press Office July 1997 18 Killed In Jerusalem Terror Attack JERUSALEM (July 30) ” Two explosions blasted through Jerusalems busy Mahane Yehuda fruit and vegetable marketplace at 1.
15 pm this afternoon at the height of the shopping day. Initial police reports placed the death toll at 18 and over 100 injured¦. Jerusalem Post July 30, 1997 Palestinian Incitement To Violence Since Oslo A Four-Year Compendium Provided by the Government Press Office August 1997 Pronouncements By Moslem Religious Leaders Defending Suicide Attacks Compiled by the Israel Foreign Ministry September 1997 Palestinian Security Commitments The report was released by the Government Press Office September 9, 1997 Palestinian Anti-Semitism by Nadav Haetzni, Maariv Weekend Supplement, p. 21 September 12, 1997.
Prison Or Hotel? PLOs Open-Door Jail Sheltered Jerusalem Bombers From Israel September 24, 1997 From the 2004 Angel for Israel News Archive: 2004 Female Suicide Bomber Explodes At Erez Crossing, Killing Four Israelis Israel Insider 14 Jan 2004 Hamas Woman Bomber Kills Israelis BBC News 14 Jan 2004 Suicide Attack On Jerusalem Bus BBC News 29 Jan 2004 Hamas Threatens Soldier Kidnaps BBC News 30 Jan 2004 Suicide Bomber Kills 10 Israelis By Nancy Updike, Boston Globe 30 Jan 2004 Prisoners Freed As Bomb Kills 10 In Israel By Chris McGreal, Guardian Unlimited 30 Jan 2004 Suicide Bomber Hits Jerusalem Bus BBC News.
22 Feb 2004 Suicide Bomber Kills 8 In Jerusalem Washington Post 23 Feb 2004 Terrorists Infiltrate Erez Industrial Area, Killing Israeli Soldier By Ellis Shuman, Israel Insider 26 Feb 2004 Couple Killed In Their Car Between Hebron and Beersheba, Terrorism Suspected Israel Insider 27 Feb 2004.
Works Consulted. Angel For Israel. Articles from Selected News Articles 2004 and Selected News Articles 1997-1998.
March 7, 2001.