ERIC Number: ED345268
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1992-Mar
Reference Count: N/A
Constraints on Critical Thinking: An Analysis of News Narratives.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that college students are unaware of the socially constructed nature of news reports. Students may accept uncritically what they view and read. A narrative analysis of front-page coverage from the "New York Times" and the "Washington Post" of the 1990 Persian Gulf situation reveals how the papers constructed and defined the crisis in a meaningful way. Initial coverage was a fairly stereotypical representation of Middle East crises. Reports portrayed Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein as a dictatorial aggressor planning to take over the region, threatening the United States' oil supplies, but unrestrained by other Arab nations. Analysis of the situation was superficial and homogenous. Early on, attention focused on Iraq's supposed intention to invade Saudi Arabia and Jordan's close affiliation with Iraq. The conflict was reported not as a dispute between Iraq and occupied Kuwait, but rather, a crisis for the United States and Saudi Arabia. This theme was introduced and reified by the predominant use of U.S. officials representing the perspective supporting the scenario, and discredited non-U.S. speakers representing the perspective challenging that scenario. Comparisons of the conflict to World War II were underscored by reports in the newspapers equating Saddam Hussein with Adolph Hitler. Such public discourse is useful data for helping students appreciate the power of language to shape and reinforce world views. (Fourteen references and an appendix of headlines are attached.) (SG)
Publication Type: Reports - Research; Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers: Gulf War; Hussein (Saddam); New York Times; Washington Post
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the Conference on College Composition and Communication (43rd, Cincinnati, OH, March 19-21, 1992).