Are Blogs More Peace-Journalistic Than Newspapers?: A Dual Method
Jang Hyun Kim*1, Kyunghee Kwon2 & George Barnett3
1Professor, Social/Semantic Network Data Analysis, Sungkyunkwan University, Republic of Korea
2Professor, Arizona State University.
3Professor , University of California, Davis
- *Corresponding Author:
- Jang Hyun Kim
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Global Media Journal
Iraq War; Blog; Newspaper; Semantic Network
Journalism for Peace ?
Mass media reporting on international conflict has been criticized for supporting one side, relying mostly on government sources for information, dramatizing, and overlooking the innocent people victimized by war (Ersoy, 2010; Keeble, 2010; Ottosen, 2010; McMahon, 2011; Hallin, 1986; Herman & Chomsky, 1988; Knightley, 2000). These trends have been labelled by Galtung (1986, 1998) as “war journalism,” denoting the tendency of modern mass media to agitate hostile attitude to each other and prioritize “winning” in the game to peaceful reconciliation. As an oppositional concept to war journalism, Galtung suggested peace journalism as a guideline for journalists who are reporting global conflicts. Peace journalism focuses on peace initiatives, multilateral negotiations, how to prevent future conflict, the structural source of conflict, and post-conflict reconstruction, chances of reconciliation (Galtung, 1986, 1998). Jacobsen and Galtung (2002) explicated that commercially and/or politically motivated war journalism is centering on winning in conflict because journalists assume that conflict is a zero-sum game. For this reason, war journalism is compared to “sports journalism,” and peace journalism is to “health journalism” whose characteristics are informing the readers of causes, preventive measures, and cures (Lee & Maslog, 2005, p. 312).According to Lee (2010), Galtung and Ruge (1965) proposed the idea of peace journalism in their critique of war reporting in “The Structure of Foreign News.” Galtung’s suggestion led to lively discussions of the concept by journalists and theorists. Galtung set up “TRANSCEND (www.transcend.org)” as a discussion forum about his vision for global peace. Also, his peace journalism concept was deepened by journalists in a series of articles and booklets, “The Peace Journalism Option” (Lynch, 1998), “What Are Journalists For?” (Lynch, 1999), “Using Conflict Analysis in Reporting” (Lynch, 2000), and “Reporting the World” (CPF, 2002), all of which are published by Conflict and Peace Forums (CPF). A book, “Peace Journalism” (Lynch & McGoldrick, 2005), may be considered a beginning of an attempt to combine peace journalism theory with practice. It defines peace journalism:
• uses the insights of conflict analysis and transformation to update the concepts of
• balance, fairness, and accuracy in reporting
• provides a new route map tracing the connections between journalists, their sources, the stories they cover and the consequences of their journalism – the ethics of journalistic intervention
• builds an awareness of non-violence and creativity into the practical job of everyday editing and reporting (2005, p. 5)
Even if there are numerous theoretical works about why and how war journalism is formulated and conducted (Hallin, 1986; Iyengar & Simon, 1994; Knightley, 2000; Galtung 1996; 1998), works on peace journalism are few and “normative and prescriptive” (Lee & Maslog, 2005, p. 313). Extant literature is rare, and it has used Galtung’s (1986;1988) categorization of the characteristics of peace journalism. On the other hand, military conflict manifests political influence of the Internet evidently. First, the medium is used by the actors in conflict. In the mid 1990s, Zapatista’s armed resistance against the Mexico government relied its communication channel on the Internet (Kahn & Kellner, 2005; Garrido & Halavais, 2003). Also, in ethno-religious conflict between Serbs and Albanians, the two parties ran war information webpage such as www.alb-net.com and www.srpska-mreza.com. Jones (2005) found that both web sites continued to add announcements to mobilize support (e.g. event calendars, online announcements) and interactive technology (online vote, polls, petitions), especially aiming at increasing presence in the western media. Jones called the war as the first Internet War. Second, from a peace journalism perspective, the utility of Internet lies in finding the way to peace. The terrorist attack of 9-11 provoked people’s urgent need for live information, and Weblogs, with realtime interactivity, served the need. Even though CNN covered the details of the terror, blogs covered more personal stories about the victims than conventional mass media (Nord, 2001). Another calamity, the Iraq War, became the first blog war (MacKinnon, 2004). Mass media opened webpages dedicated to war information, and bloggers voluntarily offered war updates and comments on their blogs. Also, blogs became a battlefield, a space for propagandistic messages between pro-war and anti-war groups. Bloggers’ proactive participation in war coverage may be interpreted as “participated journalism.” Participatory journalism has common ground with peace journalism in that both are grounded in communitarian philosophy, “the commitment to the idea of civic participation, the understanding of social justices as a moral imperative, and the view that the value and sacredness of the individual are realized only in and through communities” (Lee & Maslog, 2005, p. 312). Participatory journalism can be defined, “the act of citizen or a group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating information” (Bowman & Willis, 2003). The need for alternative journalism also lies in a concept at crisis: “objectivity.” According to Hackett (1991), “objective journalism’s respect for ‘prevailing social standards of decency and good taste is likely to mute reporting of the brutality of war, and the suffering of victims, helping to turn war into watchable spectacle rather than an insufferable obscenity” (1989, p. 13). “Objective” journalism has been more of convention than of positive processes for peace. In this context, two peace journalists, Lynch and McGoldrich (2005) criticized “objectivity conventions” for a bias in support of “official sources, event over process, and ‘dualism [of good and evil]’” (2005, p. 209) in reporting conflicts, which prevents journalists from focusing on diversified sources, cause rather than individual event, and multilateral approach. This study is related to the dispute on whether blogs function as an alternative medium. It compares newspaper reporting with blog posts to evaluate whether the newspaper practice is close to war-journalism and, on the contrary, blogosphere practices show inclination to peace journalism. Extant blog literature has argued blog’s potential for political utilization, but it has ignored blog’s contents (Matheson, 2004). As one of rare exceptions, McKenna and Pole (2007) reported that the political blogs inform bloggers of news articles from mass media and present criticism on mass media coverage of political affairs. McKenna (2007) indicated that political blogs are produced based on bloggers’ voluntarism (p. 209). This study investigates weblogs and newspaper texts with an assumption that their contents show their inclination to peace journalism or war journalism. Such a question has been raised by Galtung (1986; 1988), Jacobsen and Galtung (2002), a series of printed materials by CPF (Lynch, 1998;1999;2000; CPF, 2002) and McGoldrick and Lynch (2005), however, only a few studies (Lee & Maslog, 2005; Maslog, Lee, & Kim, 2006) have tried to answer them by analyzing newspaper texts from a peace journalism perspective. This study seeks to make contribution to the field of peace/war journalism in two aspects. First, it extends the range of the peace/war journalism study by analyzing newspaper texts and blog texts and comparing them. Second, it contributes to expand methodological approach to this field, by combining macro-level semantic network analysis with content analysis. As semantic network analysis is used for finding underlying structure of meaning from texts (Doerfel & Barnett, 1999), the combination of two methodological approaches will enhance understanding of the two different media.
Peace Journalism, Mass Media, and the Blogs
Peace Journalism and Framing Theory
Galtung (1986, 1998) raised the concept of peace journalism and its antonym, war journalism, for indicating the content characteristics of the mass media’s reporting of international conflicts. Journalists who practice peace journalism tend to “accept that a conflict exists and explore conflict formations by identifying the parties, goals, and issues involved” (Lee & Maslog, 2005, p. 314). In addition, they “understand the conflict’s historical and cultural roots, and by giving voice to all [involved] parties, create empathy and understanding” (2005, p. 314). Further, peace journalism shows an advocacy of reconciliation and similarity rather than mechanical “objectivity” and differences (Galtung, 1986:1998). Galtung presented four dimensions of media content characteristics: peace/conflict, truth, people, and solutions (Galtung, 1986;1998).On the contrary, war journalism encompasses orientations to war/violence, propaganda, elites, and victory (Galtung, 1986:1998). It dramatizes the difference between the two sides of conflict, both of which are also assumed to be in a zero-sum game. Also, it centers on visible effects of war, one-sided messages like propaganda, and victory in the conflict. The model of peace journalism, suggested by Galtung (1996;1998), was applied to provide a systemized coding scheme including 17 recommended practices of conflict reporting by McGoldrick and Lynch (2000). The reporting manual consist of 17 items including 1) putting focus on solutions, 2) reporting in terms of long-term effects, 3) inclining to people and grassroots, 4) seeking for common ground among the sides in the conflict, 5) covering all sides of the conflict, and 6) using precise and active language. Prior to this manual, Maslog (1990) also suggested a peace-journalism oriented field manual for journalists. The manual puts an emphasis on avoiding writing articles that promote cultural prejudice and non-negotiable identity issues. Instead, the manual suggests that news should present the historical and contextual aspect of conflict, and attempt to find common grounds between the parties in conflict such as Christians and Muslims in Mindanao. Lynch and McGoldrick (2005) contrasted peace journalism with war journalism in greater detail. Peace journalism generally avoids: describing a conflict as a matter of two involved parties only, interpreting the conflict as between us (self) and them (other), focusing only on violent events, assessing the visible merits of a violent action or policy, taking each party leader’s identity as the group identity, focusing on what divides the parties, stressing the differences of each party’s intention, reporting mainly the violence and horror from it, criticizing one party who starts the violence, centering simply on the fear and grievance of one party, using ‘victimizing’ language such as ‘devastated,’ ‘defenseless,’ ‘pathetic,’ or ‘tragedy,’ abusing emotive words to portray suffering, and utilizing demonizing words like ‘axis of evil.’ Framing theory can support peace journalism (Lee & Maslog, 2005; Maslog et al. 2006). Framing refers to “the process of selecting and highlighting some elements of alleged public sentiments while neglecting other elements” (Entman & Herbst, 2001: 210) and this perspective is shared by other literature (Entman, 1993; Scheufele, 2000; Entman & Herbst, 2001). According to Gamson (1989), news frame is a core element of interpretive package (Gamson, 1989:35), which is a set of socially granted meanings to current issues. It is also “a central organizing idea for making sense of relevant events and suggesting what is at issue” (Gamson, 1989: 35). Framing theory is connected to agenda setting. McCombs, Shaw, and Weaver (1997) contended that “agenda setting” and “framing” are closely related because framing is an extended version of agenda setting. Framing has been considered as second-level agenda setting (McCombs, 1994; McCombs & Bell, 1996; McCombs et al., 1997). Framing shows how the media tell us how to think about current issues (McCombs et al., 1997). Framing activates specific ideas and thoughts about current issues for news audience (Iyengar, 1991; Entman, 1993). Reese and Buckalew (1995) investigated news framing about the Gulf War and argued that government, mass media, and profit-seeking corporations interact and deepen the inclination to dramatize military conflict. Specifically, they pointed out that ultimate source of collective illusion of the war is media system’s conventions, rituals, and structural traits of bureaucracy.
Pfau, Haigh, Gettle, Donelly, Scott, Warr and Wittenberg (2004) found that journalists embedded in military unit deployed in battle field write more de-contextualized and event-oriented reporting, which is, in Iyengar’s expression, “episodic framing” (1991, p. 41). Episodic frames describe a social issue as a matter of an individual person or group rather than of a structural reason. In contrast, thematic frames offer information necessary to understand causes and backgrounds of social issues and invite audiences to look at structural aspects. Thus, in contrast to audiences perceiving thematic frames, those exposed to episodic frames tend to perceive social issues to be individually driven problems (Iyengar, 1991). The two contrasting concepts have common ground with Galtung (1986;1988)’s peace- and war- journalism dichotomy.Bennett (1990) and Mermin (1999) further criticized war journalism in that news media’s discourse rarely transcends the Washington elite’s policy debates. Modern journalism is a mere reflection of elite’s professionalism that mass media disclose power struggles and disharmony among power elites. Mermin (1999) stipulates that news stories on the U.S.’s intervention in Somalia indicates that the mass media follow government’s intent to get involved in the conflict and news stories do not draw the government’s policy toward peaceful direction.To summarize, peace journalism argument in opposition to war journalism has been raised and developed in theory and method by relating it to framing theory and agenda-setting. A series of studies about conflict reporting have shown that media framing is significantly influenced by media rituals, corporate profit-seeking, and government sources.
Blog as Peace Journalism
Technologically speaking, blogs are easy to use (templates); users can exchange messages in a short time (trackbacks and comments); easily connect to favorite links (blogroll); link external sources by easy links (permalinks); promote reflections by composing journals and subscribe online discussion group (groupblogs, e.g. www.metafilter.com, www.far.com, www.boingboing.net). Such technological traits are bonded with blog users’ active participation in information production and commentaries on current events. Theoretically, the peace-promoting role of web and blog has been discussed in terms of political activism (Kahn & Kellner, 2005; Franda, 2002; Wong, 2001), alternative information source, and alternative educational use (Oravec, 2004). Kahn and Kellner pointed out that the Internet’s political subculture is a resistive domain against dominant culture that “provides the semantic codes by which groups attempt to transmit and reproduce themselves.” (2005: 1) Kahn and Kellner (2005) stated about blog as an alternative journalism:This [blog] has resulted in a revolution in journalism in which subcultures of bloggers are continually posting and commenting upon news stories of particular interest to them, which are in turn found, read, and re-published by the global media (2005, p. 13). Theoretically, the way bloggers exchange current issue information and comment in cyberspace is supported by participatory journalism, “the act of citizen or a group of citizens, playing an active role in the process of collecting, reporting, analyzing and disseminating information” (Bowman & Willis, 2003:15). Participatory journalism has common ground with peace journalism in that both are “grounded in communitarian philosophy – namely the commitment to the idea of civic participation, the understanding of social justices as a moral imperative, and the view that the value and sacredness of the individual are realized only in and through communities” (Lee & Maslog, 2005:312). In this context, bloggers proactively exchange information and criticize each other’s opinion within and out of individual blogs in complex relations. The relations are dynamically renewed every second. This system is called the “blogosphere,” a cross-posting network of information and comment (Griffiths, 2003; Gill, 2005)Nolan (2003) stipulated that the web offers an exit out of spinning and stereotypes from mass media and information sources. The web provides information unrevealed by “mainstream” media. For instance, “Salam Pax,” a blog, was authored by an anonymous Iraqi and posted war updates on people’s life in Baghdad. Its entries were published as a paperback by the UK’s Guardian newspaper because the vivid and uncovered facts about the war attracted many users to the blog. In another case, a torture at the Abu Ghraib prison was disclosed in one blog “Baghdad Burning,” run by an anonymous person. A short comment about what the blogger heard from her friend caused a huge impact. Oravec (2004) classified war-related blogs like Salam Pax as “news war blogs.” Other blog types are: war memory blogs for lost people in war; general social issue blogs that sporadically deal with war issues; peace activist war blogs; institutional (collective) blogs authored by profit/nonprofit organizations about war; historical blogs talking about individual war or warfare history. Oravec’s classification shows the broad scope of war-related blogs.
This study investigates the Iraq War as reflected on the blog posts and mass media. It adopts Galtung’s peace journalism perspective for content analysis. Although extant literature has relied on content analysis, this study simultaneously adopts semantic network analysis, “a structure of analysis based on shared meaning (Doerfel & Barnett, 1999: 589)” through computational text analysis tools. This is because semantic network analysis representing the relationship of words in terms of co-occurrence, frequency, and distance can increase understanding of the text’s meaning structure (Doerfel & Barnett, 1999). For this investigation, to operationalize the concept of “news frame” is necessary. Here, a news frame refers to “an interpretive structures that sets specific events within a comprehensive context.” (Lee & Maslog, 2005, p. 315). Under the definition, two contrasting frames, peace- and war- journalism are differentiated by Galtung (1986; 1988). Specifically, this study investigates the presence of war/peace journalism frames in the news articles and blog posts of the Iraq War by mass media and bloggers, respectively. Based on Galtung’s classification of peace- and war- journalism, four research questions are formulated: RQ1: What are commonly or rarely used frames in the newspaper coverage of the Iraq War (specifically, New York Times and Washington Post), from a peace- and war- journalism perspective?
RQ2. What are commonly or rarely used frames in the blog posts of the Iraq War (specifically, New York Times and Washington Post), from a peace- and war- journalism perspective?
RQ3. What is the difference in framing between blog posts and mass media coverage, from a peace journalism perspective?
RQ4. What is the difference in organization of meaning revealed by semantic network analysis between blog posts and mass media coverage?
This study is based on a content analysis and a semantic network analysis of 145 blog posts retrieved from Google blogsearchTM search engine and 416 newspaper stories (208 respectively) from Lexus-NexusTM online database, news retrieval search engine. The unit of analysis for eyeball content and semantic analysis is the individual news story and blog post.
Pilot StudyA pilot study, tentative coding of blog post and news stories based on Galtung’s categorization (1986;1988) was conducted by three graduate student coders. The total number of coded texts was 30, respectively. The pilot study helped content analysis in finding additional characteristics to be coded separately: whether a story is related to congress/election or international relations, or whether a story is focused only on the Iraq war itself.
Peace/War Frames Analysis
The database selected for news story sampling, Lexus-NexusTM, is equipped with comprehensive data coverage and convenient “advanced search” interface. From the database, New York Times and Washington Post news stories were retrieved. On the other hand, BlogsearchTM database was used to retrieve blog posts. The texts collected were all in English. The keyword used for retrieving the Iraq War-related news articles was “Iraq War” and it successfully retrieved related news stories. Considering the beginning date of the Iraq War (precisely, “Operation Iraqi Freedom”), March 19, 2003, the authors set the sampling period from 2003 to 2004. The sampling period includes the initiation of Iraq War, the formal declaration of ending of it (May 1, 2003), and its unexpected extension. The unit of analysis is the individual news story (mass media) and post (blog) which are read and coded by three communication graduate students. The coding scheme is based on Galtung’s (1986, 1998). See Table 7 for the details.
The 13 indices respectively for peace and war journalism from Galtung (1986:1988) were utilized to identify the dominant frame of each text sampled. If a news story or a blog post was evaluated as “here and now” focused by the coder, then 1 point is added on “here and now” item of war journalism. If a story is commenting on the cause for the war, then 1 point is coded in “cause” item on peace journalism. When the sum of peace journalism score is higher than that of war journalism for a story, then it is categorized “peace journalism.” When war journalism score is higher than peace, then it is classified “war journalism.” In case of equal scores between the two, the story is judged “neutral.” This method was also used for Lee and Maslog (2005) and Maslog et al. (2006). See Note 1 for the details.There are 13 indicators of framing. The maximum points for peace- and war- journalism are 13, respectively. The average rate for each item was calculated by the total sum of an item’s value over the number of news stories (or blog posts). Along with two journalistic frames, whether the story is related to congress member or election was coded separately, because the sampled period covers presidential campaign in 2004. Also, as the trend that Iraq War is discussed in a context of foreign policy of the US was found by pilot study, whether the story (post) is related to international relations policy of the US to Europe or Non-Europe area were coded. Three graduate students participated in coding. The intercoder reliability measured by Scott’s pi ranged from .79 to .93, which is acceptable.
Semantic Network Analysis
Semantic network analysis is an automated text analysis of words to determine the most frequently used symbols. It then provides the relationship among these symbols and how they covary with other text’s corresponding symbols. For this process, computational content analysis software ‘CATPAC’ (Doerfel & Barnett, 1996; Terra Research and Computing, 1994) is used. CATPAC is self-organizing artificial neural network computer program for analyzing text (Woelfel, 1993). Any text sample in ASCII format can be analyzed with computer algorithms that search for any patterns whatsoever that happen to occur in the text. This is possible with co-occurrence models and neural network analysis supported by CATPAC. CATPAC reads a body of text. The program then eliminates “stop words,” which include a list of articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and transitive verbs that do not contribute to the meaning of the text (e.g. if, and, that, the, to, is). In addition, any words that distort the description of the text that have been shown to be problematic may be removed. CATPAC then counts the occurrences of the remaining words yielding the most frequently occurring words equal to the value set by the user. CATPAC then creates a words-by-words matrix with each cell containing the likelihood that the occurrence of one word will indicate the occurrence of another. This matrix is then cluster analyzed (Doerfel & Barnett, 1999, p. 592).CATPAC also enables researchers to obtain graphical representation (multi-dimensional scaling) of organization of words (meaning structure) of the sampled text. The coordinates retrieved from MDS for each text were compared. And common words used in the three texts are collected.
Out of 407 newspaper articles, 266 (63.9%) were hard news stories (133 from NYT, 135 from WP). The rest of articles were composed of 66 (13.8%) feature stories (35 from NYT, 31 from WP), 52 (12.8%) editorial comments (20 from NYT, 32 from WP), 5 (1.2%) external opinions (3 from NYT, 2 from WP) and 16 (3.9%) soft news stories (11 from NYT, 5 from WP). Letters from readers and corrections were omitted during sampling process.
127 out of 145 blog texts were found to be more focused on Iraq war itself (87.59% vs. 67.07%). Newspaper stories, in some occasions, interpreted the war as one significant but subordinate item in a broader context of elections, foreign policy, and domestic debate among politicians. Blog texts were shorter and more thematic on the issue. Among the two newspapers, NYT focused more on the conflict (69.23% vs. 64.90%). The election and congress was one of the key issues related to Iraq War. Blogs (17.24%) showed less inclination to the interpretation in election/congress context, compared with WP (26.92%), NYT (15.38%), and newspapers combined (21.15%). Specifically, the war was interpreted in the context of international relations or US foreign policy. Especially for Europe, NYT (4.81%) showed this trend more than WP (2.40%) and blogs (1.38%). For the relations with non-European nations, blogs (3.45%) referred more portion than WP (1.92%) or NYT (2.40%).
Peace/War Framing Analysis
Blogs approached the Iraq War more from peace journalism approach (54.48%) than WP (19.23%) or NYT(22.12%) or the combination of the two newspapers (20.67%). On the other hand, WP (70.19%), NYT (58.17%), and combined (64.18%) showed more inclination to war journalism than blogs (25.52%). Neutral approach of WP was 10.58% and blog was 20.00%. The inter-category difference analysis (chi-square) shows that there is significant difference in journalistic approach between different types of media (Chi-square = 81.357, DF = 4, p < .001, N = 561). That is, the argument that based on the media, the orientation to peace/war journalism is significantly different. Figure 1 shows the itemized analysis of blog, WP, NYT, and the combination of WP and NYT. Overall, newspaper stories show higher tendency of war journalism. Also, elite centrism (WP:.542), partisan (NYT:.681), emotive word (blog:.411), and no-labeling (blog:.441) show the higher intensity than other items. As we can see from Figure 1, elite centrism, now and where, and partisan coverage items have much higher average rates than reactive, two-party, and demonizing language. Although blog posts had the highest rate for the items of reactive, victimizing language in war journalism items, their absolute value is not high. Only for the emotive words item, blog post scored more than .4 and was ranked at the highest among the four (blog, WP, NYT, and NYT+WP), in war journalism items. NYT was ranked at the first for partisan item. As for peace journalism, blogs surpass the other media for a majority of items, but newspapers indicated a higher score than blogs for people tortured, multiparty, neutral, win-win, casue, and aftermath items. WP is at the top for people tortured, cause, and aftermath items. NYT showed salient tendency to promote multiparty involvement in the Iraq War.
Figure 1: detailed analysis of peace/war journalism in blogs and newspapers.
Semantic Network Analysis
This section discusses each text’s characteristics and comparatively analyzes the four texts. Table 2 shows the word frequency of blog texts. The most frequent words are: US (including United States, States, US), Iraq, war, people, bush, think, don’t, blog, and world. The most salient finding from this table is that it reflects the words of personal emotion or activity (believe, great, good, look, never, need, really, want, work, think) and self (I’m). Blogs are a medium of personal journalism and the top 50 frequent words in Table 2 show this trait. Blogs are open to the public unless bloggers set the security of the post they composed “confidential.” Blogs are a personal medium that openly discusses social or private issues and sometimes criticize politicians, war, and other social events. Figure 2 shows the semantic network of blog posts. There are two semantic clusters. The first larger cluster includes commonly used words for all texts such as administration, American, Iraq, war, US, military, and Iraqi. The cluster also includes words representing personal aspect listed above (e.g. think, look, great, good, I’m, doing and work). It indicates that personal feelings are mixed with major facts about the Iraq war in the one large cluster. The second cluster includes the words including free, support, Iraqis, need, political, and believe. A majority of this cluster’s words pertain to the support and freedom of Iraqis as the bloggers’ belief. Table 3 shows the word frequencies of NYT. NYT’s most frequent words are Iraq, war, American, Bush, US, president, first, percent, military, people, and officials. Democratic presidential candidates, (John) Kerry and (Howard) Dean, and election related word (e.g. campaign), and UN. Figure 3 shows the semantic network of NYT and the network composed of two clusters. The larger cluster includes administration, against, Iraq, war, US, American, and Bush at its peak (the most densely and closely located words). The cluster is also composed of Washington, security, Baghdad, soldiers, Dean, and Kerry. Synthetically, the cluster encompasses elites (Bush, officials, Washington, government, Dean, Kerry, president, and administration) as a majority. The second cluster includes military words (Army, Marines, Defense) and internati onal institutions (UN, council, international). WP texts are analyzed based on word frequency in Table 4. The top frequent words include Iraq, war, Bush, president, US, military, John Kerry, administration, people, weapons, Saddam Hussein, and Iraqi. A majority of words overlap with NYT, with exceptions: tax, terrorism, killed, billion, Cheney, attacks, and force. At least in terms of the frequent word list, there is no salient difference between NYT and WP. Figure 4 shows two semantic clusters of the WP text. The larger cluster includes administration, going, against, American, Iraq, war, security, military, US, and others. Elites (administration, Washington, president, Bush, Kerry, Dean) and military institution and activities (security, military, weapons, force, troops, soldiers, defense, army, killed, marine) constitute the first cluster. The higher number of military words than other texts (NYT and blogs) is salient. The second cluster includes Americans, Bush’s, Democratic, tax, policy, terrorism, political, foreign, and attacks. The status of tax and terrorism show that the cluster reflects the political debate over the tax burden due to the expenses of the Iraq war. Table 5 indicates the word frequencies of newspapers combined (NYT + WP). The most frequent words in the text are Iraq, war, Bush, US, president, American, military, administration, people, officials, weapons, Iraqi, against, government, security, and intelligence. Overall, the list reflects that newspapers focus on militarism, elite sources, and the effect of war on domestic politics. Military words include army, security, attacks, defense, soldiers, weapons, force, intelligence, and killed. Domestic politics and elite-related words in the text are campaign, Democratic, Cheney, John Kerry, officials, Washington, Bush, officials, government, and the White House. Figure 5 presents two semantic clusters. The first one include administration, attacks, Bush, government, international, Iraq, war, Iraqi, security, Washington, military, and weapons. The first cluster mainly consists of elites and military words. The second cluster encompasses Baghdad, British, Democratic, killed, marine, policy, public, country, defense, going, the White House, and news.The word list comparison of the four texts is presented at Table 6. The table shows that the major words in all four texts are: administration, American, against, Americans, Bush, country, going, government, Iraq, Iraqi, military, people, political, president, Saddam Hussein, state, support, troops, US, war, and world. Generally, these words are related to facts on the Iraq war: those who leads the war (Bush, government, president, Saddam Hussein, state, country), those who conduct the war (military, troops), and those who suffer (people). More important is the unique words for each text. First, blog post’s unique words are: I’m, believe, look, never, need, really, want, think, and work (and more). These words represent the typical characteristic of blog, namely, a personal/miscellaneous medium. Second, the words only can be seen from newspapers include military words (army, attacks, defense, force, intelligence, killed, security, soldiers, and weapons), elites and domestic politics (campaign, Cheney, Democratic, John Kerry, officials, Washington, and the White House.
Figure 2: The semantic network of blog posts.
Figure 3: the semantic network of New York times.
Figure 4: The semantic network of Washington post.
Figure 5: The semantic network of NYt and WP.
Table 1: Comparative content analysis of blogs and newspapers.
Table 2: The word frequency of blog texts.
Table 3: The word frequency of New York times.
Table 4: The Word Frequency of Washington Post.
Table 5: The word frequency of NYt and WP.
Table 6: Comparative analysis of words used in the texts.
Table 7: War/Peace Journalism: An Itemized Coding Categories.
First, as expected, newspapers show more war-journalistic characteristics than blog posts. Simultaneously, blogs are closer to peace journalism than newspapers. The extant literature has seen the difference between newspapers only, thus this finding contributes to the status of literature. The finding can be interpreted as a confirmation of the argument that blogs can play a role of alternative or participatory journalism. However, simultaneously, this interpretation may be impetuous. WP showed some peace journalistic characteristics such as focusing on the aftermath of the war and covering those who are suffered from war. On the other hand, NYT showed some war-journalism trait: It was found to be more partisan than WP or blog texts. This is confirmed by the frequent word list. NYT has two Democratic rivals Howard Dean and John Kerry on their list, but WP does not have Dean on its list. Another finding is that NYT has less characteristics of war journalism than WP. Further, NYT has more peace journalism characteristics than WP, but the difference in the degree of peace journalism is smaller than that of war journalism. It means that although NYT is a little more peace-oriented than WP, the difference is not as large as expected (2.89%). Also, NYT tend to cover the Iraq war less peace-journalistic than blogs by 32.36% and more war-journalistic by 32.65%. In the continuum of war-peace journalism, NYT is located in the middle of WP and blog posts, but closer to WP. Namely, the inter-newspaper difference is smaller than the inter-media (newspaper vs. blog posts). It stresses the potential of blogs as alternative and participatory media. Second, the semantic network analysis indicates that blog and newspaper texts have different/unique characteristics. Blog texts use more personal words and meaning structure than conventional journalism. Thus, the ego (I’m) is not separated for a superficial objective journalism. Blogs use such a premise that “this is my point of view.” As one of A-list news blogger Glenn Ryenolds says, “A blog is a disclosure of the blogger’s biases” (as cited in Johnson & Kaye, 2006), blog news may not be based on the objectivity. Rather, it is based on an explicit display of personal thoughts and stories. However, this subjective approach to news information is monitored by peer bloggers and keeps critical relationship with traditional news stories to some extent thus is not deviant from the truth-telling. Blogs not only create raw news source but also, in fact in most cases, monitor news information produced by mainstream media. Blog journalism provides critical reflections towards the issues, citizen-based perspectives, and alternative voices extended beyond the mainstream representation. Given that blogs news stories are a far more discursive and multi-perspectival form of news reporting than traditional news outlets, blog contributes for the development of the participatory and deliberative journalism regime (Brun, 2006). As peace journalism has the common ground with participatory journalism, blogs’ peace journalistic aspects revealed in this study also reinforce that blogging is a participatory journalism.In contrast, newspapers are more prone to elite sources, the war in a political context, and militarism. Both the unique words and semantic clustering reveal such trait. Those who suffered from war are belittled in the mass media coverage. Major meaning structure of newspaper is under significant influence of traditional news values: official news sources, conflict-oriented, and violence-oriented. Soldiers and citizens are represented in number, not in their own dignity. The voice for humanitarian aid for Iraq people are hardly discussed in newspaper texts, especially WP. As Hallin (1986), Herman and Chomsky (1985), and Kellner (2005) criticized war journalism, the findings of the study show pervasive tendency of professional journalism toward de-humanized news coverage on military attack. This paper compared blog text and newspaper stories about the Iraq war. It shows both the Internet and print media are a battlefield of different perspectives. Peace/war journalism dichotomy confirmed its validity as a content analysis framework as past literature did, with some limitations. Future research can conduct a deeper investigation of blog as an alternative and participatory media. Also, the duality of blog (open to public and personal) characteristics should be studied further.
1. The detailed explanation about peace journalism coding process can be seen from Lee and Maslog (2005, p. 316-317): “A score of 1 was recorded each time an indicator was found. When the total score for peace journalism indicators exceeded the total score for war journalism, the story was classified as a peace journalism story. When war journalism indicators exceed peace journalism indicators, the story was classified as war journalism. When the scores were equal, the story was neutral.”
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