A Comparative Analysis of the Framing of Terrorism in Online News

Under the George W. Bush and Barack H. Obama Administrations:

from Clash to Dialogue?


Zachary Devereaux


The significant and reciprocal link between Terrorism and News Media reportage was identified in the 1990s by the convergence of security and media studies (Picard, 1993). Working in the tradition of content analysis early studies examined the way Terrorism was framed in major news accounts with implications for the Huntington-Fukuyama hypothesis (Nacos, 2002). However these early studies mainly pre-dated both the War on Terror and the rise of the Internet as a major (political) news source. This paper reinvigorates this early framing research on Terrorism by examining key frames over time in online news media via software-assisted media mapping. Key frames identified in the 1990s are examined in the online news environment under the George W. Bush administration (2005) and the current Barack H. Obama administration (2009). The resulting news mapping allows for a comparative analysis of the way frames, such as "insurgent" have changed (if at all) over time in the most significant stories freely available online. The comparison should contribute to our understanding of the potential for a shift from the rhetoric of a "clash of civilizations" towards discourse networks of the "dignity of difference" by rendering visible shifts in frames associated with Terrorism that arguably are necessary for the advancement of the new paradigm.


Zach holds a BA in History from the University of Alberta, completed a year of graduate coursework in Communications Studies at the University of Amsterdam, and holds an MA in Political Science from the University of Alberta. Zach's MA thesis was entitled "New Media and the North Korean Nuclear Crisis." Currently Zach is a 4th year PhD candidate in the Joint Programme in Communication and Culture at Ryerson / York. Zach's research pursuits are based on new media research methodologies and online issue network mapping. Zach's PhD dissertation research focuses on interrogating the "object-oriented democratic politics" of the Harper minority government. Aside from studying code politics at the Infoscapelab, Zach has also recently carried out research into issue and policy networks around gun control, nanotechnology, obesity and tobacco.

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