Academic journal article Global Media Journal

The President as a Character: A Narrative Analysis of USA TODAY and the New York Times Coverage of Drone Strikes during the Obama Presidency

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

The President as a Character: A Narrative Analysis of USA TODAY and the New York Times Coverage of Drone Strikes during the Obama Presidency

Article excerpt

Narrative Analysis

The current political landscape continues to move away from the free flow of information from the government to the populace and instead places a priority on security. During the current presidency, the Obama administration has prosecuted more people under the Espionage Act for the leaking of government information than all other administrations combined [1]. While this attack on truth telling continues, corporate profits are the highest in the U.S. since WWII [2]. In this time of criminalizing dissent juxtaposed with unprecedented corporate wealth, scholars attempt to use a number of different theories to provide a new way to look at both economic and political problems. The relationship between media and power provides a specific lens to examine how a populace engages in the political and economic discussion in society. The relationship between the government and the media explores one way to define and examine how media and power functions in the larger field of media studies. Mosco [3] examined political economy and its relationship with both social relations and power. This connection between social relations and power, however, does not happen in a vacuum. The procurement, distribution and consumption of resources guide the directions of the social relations and power. To understand this in a media context, Mosco looked at the continued growth of the media corporation as an entity in modern society. With fewer companies owning all mainstream media outlets, the critical scholar questions how these very few owners produce a diverse amount of content for viewers to consume. While this process may have begun in the western world, the continued growth of the global economy has shown how political economy can be applied to the presence of western media corporations in the developing world. This neocolonial connection also shows the influence from the continued marriage between the media and the government. Mosco's understanding of political economy in terms of social relations and power have provided opportunities to question the continued growth of corporate influence in media but also the growing intimacy between the government and the media.

Hale [4] studied how the media and the dominant government position can also provide context to an emerging international issue. Most of the information people receive about international issues, especially the factual content about those issues, comes from the mass media. The mass media used a particular frame to establish how facts are shown to the public and what facts becomes a part of the media discourse [4]. The political climate also helps frame that discourse and provides the lens for the public to view a particular subject, such as war. For example, the media framed the U.S. intervention in Kosovo as a "humanitarian" mission, while the invasion of Iraq followed the dominant government narrative of preemptive war against a dangerous threat from a rogue state that had weapons of mass destruction. For these political reasons, the media consistently referred to Iraq in terms of contest, while never using that type of frame when referring to Kosovo. This example illustrates the continued dexterity of political elites and how they can influence not only media content, in terms of facts, but also how the public digests that content, in terms of frames. Based on these two example, the media content and media frames during a particular international conflict have been influenced by the political aims of the U.S. government.

In this complex political and media environment, drone strikes represent a particularly complicated example about the relationship between a governmental political action and the information available to the public about that particular action. Drone strikes have become a significant part of the war on AlQaeda utilized by the Obama presidency. In 2010, Obama administration used 117 signature strikes in Pakistan in an effort to curb the Al-Qaeda presence [5]. …

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