Needs help with analysing the way articles are reported, for example:
Consider the overall representation of the issue. What is the invited reading?
Consider the purpose of this text: To persuade? Entertain? Argue? Inform? Explain? Describe? Sell?
What does the choice of words in the headline imply?
How has the message been communicated?
1. Language choices:
How has language been used to position the reader/viewer/listener?
- tone and register
- foregrounding of words
- use of binaries
- aesthetic features*
connotations of words – deliberately
- chosen for effect
- sequencing of information
- gaps & silences
2. Image choices:
What values or cultural assumptions are communicated by colour, nonverbal cues, camera angle, dress and environment/setting?
How does the deliberate inclusion of this image (or images) support the overall representation of the issue?
Describe the cultural assumptions, values, attitudes and beliefs that underpin this text.
Consider notions of gender, race, class etc
Description: Recruitment training- human bomb class
Cartoon depicts three recruitments happily learning about how to be a suicide bomber
Documentary - ISIS recruiting Western youth with English-language video
the above links are to the documents and videos that I am analysing. the questions beforehand is what I have to consider and answer relating to each one.
1 Answer | Add Yours
If the professor’s purpose is to illuminate the manner in which journalists and editors can manipulate audience emotions, or influence the way the audience thinks, then far more effective examples could have been provided. That said, the obvious common link among the four news stories presented, three written and one video, is the threat posed to Western nations by their citizens who have heeded the call to wage war in a far-off land, gaining combat experience and knowledge of weaponry in the process that can subsequently be used to attack targets in their own countries, especially the English-speaking countries. Actually, to be fair, one of the articles is not actually an article. The very first link is to the website openly operated by an Australian police agency. Even the URL includes the “.gov” notation that indicates it is an official Australian government website (http://mypolice.qld.gov.au/blog/2014/09/10/two-brisbane-men-arrested-terrorism-related-offences/). This particular “article” is presented entirely factually, with little or no indication that the text is intended to persuade public opinion. The author presents the facts of an arrest, and is careful to qualify its assertions through the use of word “alleged” or “allegedly,” as in the following excerpts:
“The Brisbane Joint Counter Terrorism Team (JCTT) has today conducted an operation to disrupt a network allegedly involved in the recruitment and financing of foreign fighters to Syria, resulting in the arrest of two men.”
“It will be alleged that the men were actively involved in recruiting, facilitating and funding people to travel to Syria to engage in hostile activities with proscribed terrorist group Jabhat al-Nusra.”
Most government agencies, especially in advanced societies, have their own public affairs departments the responsibilities of which include the issuance of press releases informing the public as to recent developments or trends. That is clearly the purpose of this article.
The second link is to a Time magazine article (from Time’s international edition) about the issue referenced in the police department press release. The distinction between the official government article and the more sensationalist informational article from the weekly magazine is stark, although mainly in the use of headlines, much beyond which many readers rarely saunter:
“You’ll Never Guess Which Country Is the Biggest Per Capita Contributor of Foreign Jihadists to ISIS”
That headline is intended to grab the reader’s attention, and to hold up to scrutiny the Australian Government’s actions with regard to the problem of that nation’s citizens joining the Islamic State and fighting abroad. Note the use of language in dramatizing the issue in the following passages, and the further use of language suggesting, fairly or not, that the government is less than competent in confronting this challenge:
“A startling number of Australian citizens and residents have left the country to join jihadist factions in the ongoing crises in the Middle East, prompting the Australian government to launch a statewide effort to crack down on “home-grown terrorism” fostered within its borders.”
“As for the suspected or confirmed terrorists still at large within the Australian borders, the government has mulled over the idea of providing national intelligence agencies greater access to the country’s internet traffic — a potentially controversial move, considering the outcry over the government’s mobile data surveillance plan in 2012.”
The use of the word “startling” is clearly intended to elevate the sense of drama and foreboding already inherent in this particular issue. Similarly, the first of these passages employs the phrase “fostered within its borders” as if to suggest that internal activities within Australia are the problem and not the recruitment efforts highlighted in the CNN video the link to which is provided in the question. Writing that the Australian Government “has mulled over” an activity that the text and tone of the article clearly indicates should be taken can also be seen as manipulative. While dictionary definitions suggest “mulled over” is a reasonable description, it’s tone is suggestive of a condescending attitude on the part of the journalist.
The ABC News article, the written part, is actually pretty straight forward. The images accompanying that article, however, serve to illuminate the gravity of the situation. Video depictions of the shopping mall attack in Nairobi in September 2013 clearly evoke images of suffering on the part of victims and threatening actions on the part of the terrorists from al-Shabab. Interestingly, the video includes comments to the effect that the terrorists know exactly what they’re doing with regard to the public relations element of their attack on civilians, drawing attention to their demand that Kenya terminate its participation in the multinational effort at keeping al-Shabab from reclaiming power in Somalia’s capital of Mogadishu. The success of this public relations effort on the part of the terrorists is evident, ironically, in the ABC News feature.
Finally, the CNN video on Islamic State efforts at recruiting foreign nationals, especially from English-speaking countries, to join it in its fight against the governments of Syria and Iraq, during which these recruits will be further radicalized, trained in explosives, and sent home to attack Western targets, is highly sensationalist in its use of images and editing. While the underlying issue is very serious and potentially extremely dangerous, visual journalism like this, as television reporting during the war in Vietnam did decades earlier, brings the conflict, politics and suffering directly into the homes of Western audiences and exposes them to images intended to alarm and precipitate reactions. The emphasis on a U.S. citizen who became the first American suicide bomber in Syria, the images of “brave” young Muslims firing their automatic weapons while Islamic chants are heard and the black flag of the Islamic State flutters in the breeze – components of an Islamic State-produced video rebroadcast by CNN – all serve to advance the cause of the jihadists while illuminating the scale of the threat to the Western audiences viewing these images.
As Hamas, Hezbollah, al Qaeda, and now ISIS propaganda operations have all illustrated, terrorist organizations recognize the importance or value of imagery, and utilize it to further their objectives. News organizations exist to inform their readers and viewers (and listeners), but the considerable convergence of interests that often exists – and this includes between the media and governments that similarly try to manipulate information or broadcast it for informative purposes – between terrorist or militant organizations and the news organizations that follow them is an age-old problem with no resolution in sight, at least as long as the fundamental freedoms expressed in the U.S. Constitution’s Bill of Rights remain viable.
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