Covering Conflicts: the coverage of Iraq War II by The New Zealand Herald, The Dominion Post and The Press
Thesis DisciplineMass Communication
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameDoctor of Philosophy
The New Zealand news media have covered Iraq War II extensively, and from different perspectives, shaped by reporting restrictions, public opinion and editorial policies of the media organisations. This thesis studies New Zealand's three largest daily newspapers' coverage during the invasion phase of the war exploring their reliance on global news agencies such as Reuters, AFP and AP and on elite British and US newspapers. The research also aims to explore the newspapers' dependence on global news agencies and other content providers and the extent of US and Coalition domination of the news agenda. Global news media, including mainstream news agencies which mostly rely on government and military officials for information on military conflicts such as Iraq War II, become channels for propaganda and facilitate elite sources to set the agenda for national and global audiences. A content analysis of the three daily newspapers - The New Zealand Herald, The Dominion Post and The Press - reveals that the war coverage in New Zealand was framed by international news agencies, US and UK newspapers. And their reliance on US and Coalition official sources in the news construction meant that they became vehicles for propaganda. The mainstream New Zealand newspapers' coverage of Iraq War II is examined through the contexts of globalisation, news flows, media-source relations, news management and propaganda as these are the issues that have shaped the war journalism discourse in New Zealand. As there have not been many studies in New Zealand of news media coverage of wars, this research is an opportunity for studying mainstream newspapers of a country that is not a direct participant in the war. It gives the opportunity to compare reporting by newspapers in a country not directly involved in Iraq War II with that of countries that are directly involved. What emerges from this study is that the level of involvement in a war is no longer the most important factor in determining the direction of news media coverage. News values, globalisation, economic interdependence, news flows and propaganda are all highly significant factors affecting coverage. This thesis shows that the US military and government sources dominated the news agenda through various media management strategies. The findings of this research also demonstrate the dominance of the global news agencies and US and UK publications as main content providers in the war coverage. The implication of this is that the few Western media outlets are able to set the news agenda for news retailers such as New Zealand newspapers, and their readers.