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perceptions

A Better Baghdad?

Caroline Jaine's picture

This morning I tapped “Baghdad News” into Google and over half of the first 40 results were about bombing and violence. A further 12% of results were political analysis (mostly about bombing and violence). And there was a smattering of more positive news, mostly on Iraqi news channels: three stories on the reinstatement of flights between Baghdad and Kuwait; one story about art; and another about nice pavements.  Hardly dynamic, dramatic news and negative news appears to dominate.

In 2012, Pakistan's biggest English language news agency Dawn helped me to conduct a survey, which looked at how people build perceptions of nations.  With an academic interest in nation branding, and public diplomacy, I was staggered to see that 83% of respondents drew their perceptions of Iraq from the media.  And not surprisingly, these were largely negative.

As the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq draws near, the political pundits swarm and draw their conclusions about Baghdad and Iraq, and Blair and Bush are challenged with the rhetoric of “was it worth it?”  Having penned a modest account of “A Better Basra” I too am drawn into the discussion, canvassing my Iraqi friends for their opinion.

Framing Climate Change

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

It’s environment week, kind of. Tuesday was World Environment Day and tomorrow is World Oceans Day. Both days were institutionalized through United Nations resolutions to draw attention to the environment and the threats it is exposed to. For communicators in development, climate change is one of the most relevant issues. Communication scholars also have thought a lot about how to effectively communicate climate change. I am not quite sure, however, whether the two sides are working together. Let me therefore discuss how framing can influence our understanding and acceptance of climate change.

Matthew Nisbet from American University has written an interesting article on “Communicating Climate Change: Why Frames Matter for Public Engagement”. He argues that the enormous divide between the factual reality of climate change and citizens’ perception is partly due to the way interest groups have been framing the issue. He identifies a number of frames that are being used in the public discussion (p. 18):

Watching the News on a Deck-Chair

Caroline Jaine's picture

In July I wrote a piece about Simulated Realities, Manipulated Perceptions.  In it I queried our apparent pre-occupation with the gruesomeness of war, as seen through a media lens.  I took Pakistan as a case study for our obsession with disaster and attempted to apply a Baudrillardian theory to new coverage of terrorism in the country.  The irony is, that this article was picked up by an editor for one of the biggest Pakistani news agencies, and ever since I have been writing a weekly column for them.

Having spent years watching and commenting on the media, I have crossed sides, and although I remain a “blogger” not a “writer”, I feel as if I am on the periphery of the very beast I have long deplored.  My short, but intense time at Dawn has been a real challenge, as I have sought to write in a way that I have advocated journalists to and continue to challenge the mainstream media perceptions from within.

Simulated Realities, Manipulated Perceptions

Caroline Jaine's picture

Twenty years ago, the French philosopher, sociologist and political commentator, Jean Baudrillard wrote an essay entitled “The Gulf War Did Not Take Place”.  Published in French and British Newspapers (Libération and The Guardian), it attracted huge criticism from people like Christopher Norris, who castigated Baudrillard and other postmodern intellectuals for arguing the Gulf conflict was unreal and essentially fictive. Some even labelled Baudrillard “a theoretical terrorist”.  He was not, however, in denial that lives were lost nor that “more explosives were dropped in the two months of the Gulf War than the entire allied air attacks in World War II”. His central issue was one of interpretation and the presentation of the facts through a media lens – his concern was whether these events could be called a war.