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INFORMATION WARS: THE MEDIA DURING AND AFTER 9/11 & U.S RELATIONS WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD

by on April 7, 2014

 

 

The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre is arguably one of the most catastrophic events ever recorded in history that received a lot of media coverage, especially considering that this was an attack on what symbolized the power of a Super nation. Global media coverage by various media outlets was inevitable, ultimately resulting in broadcasting for days, weeks, and even months. Some argue that this catastrophe sparked a new phase in historical war in which global terrorism exploded which certainly comes across as plausible. Countries worldwide particularly in the West embarked on some form of backlashing based on what was claimed to be on the grounds of political repression and intervention using military means. Inevitably and not unexpectedly, the opposition (Iraq) were pushed into a corner and forced to do nothing but stand in defence with the hope of maintaining and preserving their sovereignty, culture and image, of course this being done over a period of time between 2001 and today in ways that the rest of the world viewed as extreme. It is arguable that publics from the United States were dramatically shaken by the event, as they had the revelation of the high levels of vulnerability they were exposed to.

 

Many argue that the Bush – Cheney administration manipulated the fear experienced by the U.S citizens in order to justify the action to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq and it was all made possible through the U.S mainstream media. Representations of the event between external states differed; the different media outlets in each state took different approaches in defining the nature of the catastrophe and this is what made it difficult for analysts themselves but more importantly the publics to draw a line as to what, why and how this happened. Some countries such as the U.K represented international solidarity where others such as the left wing political circles in France took a more critical, if somewhat cynical approach.

 

 

The daily telegraph alongside the elite papers such as ‘The Times’ were said to represent 9/11 similar with the ideologies as right-wing conservatives, showing sympathy to the U.S  and being strongly critical and sceptical of global terrorism while left-wing papers such as the Guardian were more critical of U.S agendas and policies concerning foreign intervention. Similarly with the Daily telegraph, the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ had the headline which translated: we are all American’s’ which again displayed the French as not only having solidarity with the U.S but by siding with America based on that headline, they indirectly indicated that an attack on America is also an attack on France. It was once again the French left-wing  circles which showed disparity from President Chirac and the rest of the right-wing leaders as the newspaper titled ‘Libération’ highlighted on September 15 that 9/11 compared to other events such as the Rwandan genocide, an event just as drastic was not was not given as much response.

 

So what position of power does that put the U.S in? As some critics would call Bush’s military aggression and the overall make up of America a ‘Hyperpower’ it is plain to see that the U.S not only wields economic and military power judging by the size of their budgets in both areas, but America also capitalizes on the effects of this global village by controlling the helm of the global communications network. With many regional and proxy conflicts that take place around the globe, many of them go unrecognised but the new technology era has placed America in a position to demonstrate cultural power. Relations between France and America became tainted as France distanced itself simply because of the interpretations of Bush’s policies. The representation of the conflict also affected the relations of both countries and this is an effect of the power that the media possesses and shouldn’t as their sole purpose is to inform unbiasedly.

 

The representation of 9/11 not only affected U.S’ foreign relations but it also influenced the behaviour of other states. Germany was a country that was led to focus on the prevention of global terrorism by tightening their security especially when it was exposed that one of the 9/11 participants was Mohammad Atta who had resided in Germany prior to the event.

 

To conclude, the media representations of 9/11 blurred the lines between ‘war’ and ‘terrorism’ as the news unfolded. Information in the headlines was either updated or changed but in some cases not to the full scale as some information would have been inaccurate and some further going uncorrected and in the case of some corrections made, the information was still given far less prominence than the original information. In this entire process, viewers become Americanised and sucked into an abyss of fear that creates uncertainty even for countries outside of the U.S. Nevertheless, the emergences of new media in the Arab regions such as Al Jazeera are certainly opening new doors to dialogue as well as information dissemination as they are known to be more transparent. As new forms and platforms of communication are emerging, it would be interesting to see how this will affect U.S’ foreign relations with other countries and also how information will be transmuted to the global audience.

 

French right-wing paper

French right-wing paper

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Left-wing newspaper

Left-wing newspaper

Right-wing newspaper

Right-wing newspaper

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Tomasz Pludowski, How the World’s News Media Reacted to 9/11: Washington: Marquette Books, 2007

 

Brigitte L. Nacos and Oscar Torres-Reyna, Fueling Our Fears. Stereotyping, Media Coverage, and

Public Opinion of Muslim Americans, 2007

 

Douglas Kellner, International Journal of Communication 1 (2007) pge 124,125,126

See Douglas Kellner, From 9/11 to Terror War: Dangers of the Bush Legacy. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and
Littlefield, 2003, and Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy. Boulder, Col.: Paradigm Press, 2005

 

The Guardian, September 12, 2003, accessed April 3rd, 2014.

 

http://www.LeMonde.fr, September 12, 2003, access April 3rd, 2004

 

IMAGES OF NEWSPAPER FRONT PAGES

https://www.flickr.com/photos/coneee/sets/72157612162010470/detail/

 

 

 

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2 Comments
  1. pms0049 permalink

    I agree that the media has been used to shape public opinion with regards to the foreign policy western powers (especially America’s and the UK’s). Media outlets were used to create hype and hysteria about the threat of Al Qaeda and Saddam Hussein’s regime, therefore justifying the military invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps some of the threat of terror towards the west has been reduced, but on the other hand the fact that Saddam Hussein was found to not have any (or at least fewer) weapons of mass destruction and also not have any links with Al Qaeda shows that the media (and those that run it) basically lied. However, the fact that large proportions of western populations were made to believe those lies shows how successful the media is in shaping and manipulating public opinion.

  2. This post draws some interesting comparisons in the reporting of 9/11 and its aftermath. However, it isn’t clear what the purpose of this discussion is. Despite highlighting differences in how certain newspapers covered the event, you conclude with some generalisations. In fact, the post as a whole is largely composed of vague claims and assertions. You need to provide more precise arguments linked to evidence in support of those claims. It would also benefit greatly from articulating a clear line of argument or point, ideally one related to the main themes of the module.

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