Date of Award

12-1-2012

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Department

Mass Communication and Media Arts

First Advisor

Brooten, Lisa

Second Advisor

Downing, John

Abstract

My critical discourse analysis (CDA) of the New York Times' front-page and editorial articles, within the framework of Herman and Chomsky's (1988) propaganda model, shows that the newspaper constructed the intervention in Rwanda as suicidal for the United States and beyond the capacity of the international community. On the other hand, U.S. and NATO intervention and military airstrikes against Serbia were represented as surgical and the only options available to save ethnic Albanian lives in Kosovo. My analysis finds that the New York Times' constructions of the two conflicts, conflict actors and victims of the conflicts heavily favored the official U.S. policy of nonintervention in Rwanda and intervention in Kosovo. In particular, the analysis of the Kosovo conflict discourse in the New York Times found strong support for the dichotomization hypothesis of the propaganda model. I further analyzed U.S. policy papers or the official propaganda discourses alongside news media discourses, and also reviewed my CDA findings alongside key historical episodes related to the two conflicts. My analysis shows, while the New York Times showcased and regurgitated arguments that were in favor of U.S. policy of intervention in Kosovo and nonintervention in Rwanda, the newspaper--deliberately or otherwise--omitted and distorted key details that could potentially and fundamentally reshape perceptions of the need or lack of need for U.S. interventions in each of the two conflicts. Lastly, my analysis finds that there was high degree of similarity between the official propaganda discourses and the discourses in the New York Times.

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