Media framing of military incidents and the struggle for narrative control: The attacks on Benghazi and Al Asad
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The purpose of this study is to determine how breaking news stories involving the U.S. military are framed in news, leading to a struggle for narrative control over events that vary in their degree of politicization—and in their reception by different stakeholder groups. Framing analysis will be used to assess the ways in which news organizations report the deadly 2012 attack on the American embassy in Benghazi, and the 2019 attack on the Al Asad Air Base in Iraq, which led to the strike on Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani in the country of Iraq and was killed in action. The evolution of these story narratives, including the official rationales given for decisions on the ground, are compared to journalistic accounts—both in the immediate aftermath of the events and in the months that followed. Key frames to be analyzed include security, defense, external regulation, reputation, and public opinion. Different versions of this coverage will then be presented to three distinct stakeholder groups—Iranian and other Middle Eastern students in the U.S., active duty special forces military, and civilian observers—for their response to differential event framing. Results showed that media framing and the background of these different news audiences interact to shape story interpretations; however, political party had a stronger impact. Gaining an understanding of the dynamic interplay between frames in news and vantage points that audiences hold yields insight into the complexity of arriving at single interpretations of contested events.Embargo status: Restricted to TTU community only. To view, login with your eRaider (top right). Others may request access exception by clicking on the PDF link to the left.