Date of Graduation

Winter 12-14-2012

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in International Studies

Department/Program

International Studies

First Advisor

Dr. Dorothy Kidd

Abstract

There has been an increase in tension between the United States government and the Islamic Republic of Iran over the past decade. A number of events including the US- led invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan and the expansion of Iran’s nuclear program have strained this fragile relationship. The U.S. and its allies contend that Iran’s nuclear program is intended for arms proliferation while the Islamic Republic of Iran states it is for domestic power and research. Much of this conflict has played out in news media, which have a vital role to provide information, analysis and opportunities for dialogue as part of democratic life. When news media fail to fulfill these obligations the consequences can be immense as we witnessed, for example, during the build-up to the U.S. led invasion of Iraq. In 2002 and early 2003, U.S. corporate media failed to adequately question the Bush administration’s claim that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction.

This study responds to the need to systematically assess the available news content about this conflict. Using content analysis of two legacy U.S. news outlets, and three outlets more focused on Iran including: one regional corporate news service, one European citizens’ media outlet, and one lobby group for the Islamic Republic. The goal was to compare the representation of Iran in U.S. corporate news media with available English-language news content from the Middle East region. The primary methods were communicative and content frame analyses and source analysis. The findings show a significant lack of available English-language content about Iran. The majority of articles mentioning Iran in the two selected U.S. corporate media outlets are not in-depth news reports. In addition, all five news outlets employed the dominant frame, or status quo perspective, and provided few alternative viewpoints.