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42 Seiten, Note: 2
Background and Method
1. Introduction to the topic
1.1. Societal relevance, research question and the benefit of answering
1.2. Attempt to a hypothesis
2. The Ukrainian Euromaidan protests from 2013 to 2014
3. Problems during the media coverage of protests
4. Critique on Western news coverage about the Euromaidan protests
5. Foucault´s understanding of knowledge and power
6. Foucault´s Discourse Theory
7. Method - The Critical Discourse Analysis
7.1. Choosing a news source - A newspaper as part of the mass media
7.2. Preparing for the Analysis - Collecting data
8. DieZeit: The newspaper´s profile and discursive categories
8.1 Going through their articles - The EU knows, is needed and selfless
8.2 The celebration of the Opposition leader
8.3 Diction, undertone and zebra-thinking
This thesis investigates, how protest events are documented by the press. It is true that media coverage can never be objective - when images or video material have to be selected, the amount of objectivity is quite limited. But also internalised morals, values and beliefs contribute to a lack of objectivity. And there lies the point and the main focus of my paper. I will research media coverage of a social movement, that has been reported by the supraregional German weekly newspaper dieZeit. The aim is to clarify that the reader has to be careful and to remember that Western mass media can have a tendency to report with their normative glasses on and that therefore, media coverage always needs to be reflected critically. In order to show this, Foucauld´s understanding of discourse and an approach of the critical discourse analysis should help. The Ukraine crisis, mainly focussing on the protests in Kiev, will serve as a case study of my work. The crisis in Kiev was an event that has been covered by the mass media thoroughly. The news about the situation there were the first reported about in TV and dominated the front pages of newspapers for weeks. Hence, it is significant to apprehend how the West, thus the USA, UK and Europe, discursively discussed and depicted the Ukraine. In this paper, the newspaper dieZeit has been chosen in order to have a look at such a depiction and serves as one example for Western, more specifically German news coverage. By concentrating on these events, the task will be to investigate and analyse whether and how Western news coverage format reinforced power over the Ukraine by reporting about the events on site. The reason for the choice of news sources and the difficulties and limitations which may occure during the critical discourse analysis will be disclosed in the further course of this thesis.
Western/German Media Coverage, Newspaper, Foucault, Discourse Analysis, Maidan Protests, Selection Bias.
In order to get information about protests and social movements that are going on somewhere in the world, people consider the news for keeping up to date. The coverage of protests and other news which are provided by the mass media in general, need to be looked at from a critical perspective. When political dissent changes into a crisis, threatening to escalate as it was the case in Kiev at the end of 2013, then the state responses with the policing of protest, which can be defined as the "police handling of protest events - a more neutral description for what protesters usually refer to as repression and the state as law and order" (Porta & Reiter, 1998, p. 1). Reputation and people´s opinion about the general situation of a crisis and the executive power which has to carry out the instructions of the state can be shaped by news media to a great extent. Since the citizen is not in attendance of the protests and for the majority of people, the main source of information about the situation are indeed the mass media. It is consequently logic that they have a substantial impact on public opinion. Also Teun A. van Dijk (2000) states that "media discourse is the main source of people’s knowledge, attitudes and ideologies" (Cottle, 2000, p. 35). Thus, the question that arises here is how far this exerted media influence can get. To ask this is relevant because people should be able to form their own opinion, based on objective and neutral information. Therefore the news consumer needs to be aware of the background and context of the source that has been chosen. As a consequence, this research addresses media consumers, who not only passively read the news for example, but are also interested in scrutinising and questioning the source itself critically. Of course any form of media can have a manipulative tendency, no matter if Western or non-Western media. Also news media can be biased, depending on the political background the media coverage follows and supports. Without forgetting that, this thesis, however, concentrates on one specific Western newspaper, namely dieZeit, its coverage and distorting potential. News media are always part of politics as well - it is a mutual interference between knowledge and power, which is also topic of Michel Foucault´s theory. Reporting about an event is not just about information gathering and dissemination - it is also a form of discourse (van Djik, 1988). Hence, in this thesis, the interaction between knowledge and power and the conducted discourse by the news will be investigated more. In short, the protests in Kiev, going on between the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, provide an interesting case study for questions about the more concrete role played by Western mass media coverage in a contemporary social movement.
As already stated, the information and knowledge of current events is highly influenced by the news media. It is thus not astonishing, that exactly these news media affect and frame the public discourse. Someone who wants to understand ongoing affairs needs to be aware of this influence and relation and must be able to filter the consumed news. Of course, the process of filtering or rather trying to perceive raw information before they went through the filter of news organisations, is very demanding and not always possible. In order to get information that has been passed through a minimum of potential bias, it is important to know possible factors that might change and bias information and to gather information about the news source as well. Concerning the societal relevance of this objective, it can be said that the public discourse and opinion can have impact on the events themselves. An attentive and critical society is rather taken seriously and is able to change social circumstances because different opinions, which are based on intensively collected knowledge, facilitate open discussions. We may think about the German philosopher Immanuel Kant who argued in favor of a free and proper exercise of reason by the individual. Relevant is therefore his statement that heralded the start of the enlightenment and which can be applied to the topic of this work. „Dare to know! Have the courage to use your own understanding“ (Kant, 1784). It is comfortable to just accept the presented information which are provided by news organisations. It would certainly have been in Kant´s interest to discuss the role that media play while using our own minds. Ongoing from the relevance of this topic, a more specific case will be examined by zooming into the situation of Kiev from 2013. We should ask ourselves for example how the media proceed when they selected certain video material, interviews and pictures in order to give people an impression of how the current situation of the protests in Kiev looks like. What are the pitfalls and drawbacks of todays news coverage? Based on these questions, which have already been discussed by many scholars such as Pamela E. Oliver, Gregory M. Maney, John B. Thompson or Todd Gitlin, a more concrete research question can be formulated: how does a specific Western media source discursively place, construct and portray the Ukraine during one of its most difficult times? Does the media discourse provide an objective representation of facts and is therefore a neutral construct? Or is it culturally constructed and influenced by values because it includes a kind of evaluation through words and pictures? The benefit of answering this question is that through the process of analysing a specific news source, its background and bias potential, one can practice a more critical appreciation and feel for the relation between media and public discourse. In line with this, the overall aim here is to demonstrate this propensity by taking an approach that is based on Foucauld´s understanding of discourse as well as its knowledge and power relation and to show, that through a discursive depiction of the Ukraine, certain power structures develop and even consolidate.
Since newspapers and nowadays electronic news reports are often the most frequently used sources of data about protest events, exactly these media sources are important to rely upon for the following research. As one can imagine, media sources as an index of violent or non-violent social movements are never neutral records and thus associated with creating problems. There exist two reasons for creating potential bias: it is either because of time pressure caused by real-time coverage or the competition between news organisations, but bias can also depend on the political background, the norms and values the news organisation or the author consciously or unconsciously represents. Hence, both factors can contribute to a kind of distortion, but especially the influencing norms and values will be discussed in the further course of this work. I will try to broaden this vantage point with the aid of a discourse analysis of online articles, which have been published by the German newspaper dieZeit. While this phenomenon can refer to many news sources besides dieZeit, this thesis focuses only on this one. It will thus be claimed that when analysing articles written by a Western, or in this case German Newspaper, a certain tendency of their Western beliefs and standpoints can be read out and that the news are not objective but rather represent and maintain already existing values with the help of linguistic capital. It is referred to Western media in order to clarify the relevance of the case study, but this does not automatically imply that all Western mass media organisations can be equated or put on the same level, which comprises that generalisations need to be avoided.
In order to exemplify the research question with a very contemporary event, the riots in Kiev which took place from December 2013 until February 2014 will serve as a case study. Since the Ukrainian protests and political unrest are very complex and are still going on, I will concentrate on three main events which changed the situation or were seen as key proceedings during this critical time in Kiev. To sum it all up: First, the exact progress of events in Kiew will be described. Then, problems which can occur during the media coverage of protests will be expounded, where after specific points of critique on Western news coverage about the Euromaidan protests follow, which will then serve later as a guideline for the analysis of the newspaper´s online articles. Therefore, Foucault´s theory of the connection between knowledge and power will be investigated further, whereby his discourse theory accrues from. Ongoing from his definition of discourse, the method with which the online articles will be analysed later, will be explained.
Eventually should still be said that this work leaves space for extension and allows an open-minded debate. It is not about truth or falsehood, but rather one perspective of critical reflection one can regard news coverage from.
Before it is possible to demonstrate how the relation between knowledge and power can be identified in online articles about the Ukranian demonstrations, it is of course necessary to first elucidate what exactly happened during the Euromaidan protests at the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.
The first cause for public dissatisfaction was the sudden stop of long negotiations about an association agreement, which should tend to an approximation of the Ukraine to the EU. One part of Ukrainians really wants to grow towards Europe whereas the other part of the people tends more towards Russian policy, values and laws. As a result, the long persistence of the negotiations and the ultimately break created turmoil in the proEuropean fraction, whereupon in November 2013, protests "gathered pace, as 100 000 people attend a demonstration in Kiev, the largest in Ukraine since the Orange Revolution" (The BBC News, 2013). Ten thousands of people came to the Maidan, the Independence Square in Kiev, for peaceful protests. A month later, the protest became stronger, the police presence increased and for the first time people were injured.
On the 13th of December 2013, formal negotiations for peace between President Yanukovych and members of the opposition party took place but did not bring any results. (Sensible Reason, 2013). The opposition was represented by Vitali Klitschko, Arseny Yatsenyuk, member of the Fatherland Party of former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko and Oleg Tiagnibok, who belongs to the extreme right party Swoboda. Since the Ukraine is highly indebted, they accepted a loan of 15 billion U.S. Dollars which has been ensured by Vladimir Putin, the Russian president. On the 22nd December 2013, "the political movement titled Maidan People’s Union was established" (World News Today, 2013).
After some pacifying, the demonstrations continued on the 10th of January 2014, when Yuri Lutsenko, an opposition politician and former minister for inner affairs, became seriously injured in clashes between demonstrators and the police. The following weekend, once again 50 thousand people gathered together in Kiev to protest against the violent strategy of the police (Deutsche Welle [DW], 2014).
On the 16th of January 2014, the Ukrainian parliament tightened the demonstration right. The Communist party of Ukraine passed "anti-protest laws, which should criminalize all Euromaidan opposition methods. Thereupon, protesters called January the 16th ´Black Thursday´ and claimed that the Ukraine Parliamentarianism is dead" (Sensible Reason, 2014). Opposition members then tried to charge the parliament whilst the confrontations between the police and the demonstrators became worsening, with the result of almost 200 injured people. It was not clear from whom they came, but two days later, first shots have been fired. Three protesters died, whilst opposition and government agreed on an abolition of the controversial repressive laws which have been adopted on January the 16th (Deutsche Welle [DW], 2014). At the end of January, Prime Minister Nikolai Azarov announced his resignation, whereupon Putin withdrew the credit he promised in December.
After weeks of tense calm, the protests changed into serious violence: eighteen people were killed through rioting in the streets; many more were injured. Mutual recrimination on all sites started. The day after, the security forces announced a nationwide "anti-terrorist action". The NATO on the other side called for restraint. At the same time Yanukovych met opposition leaders and advocated truce (Deutsche Welle [DW], 2014).
It was the 20th of February when the situation at the Maidan escalated. The Government troops retreated from Maidan square but when the protesters tried "to re-establish their old position at the barricades, violence escalates and both sides used firearms" (World News Today, 2014). The BBC News reported, that "Kiev sees its worst day of violence for almost 70 years" (The BBC News, 2014). It was said that security forces shot at protesters but it was not clear whether they came under fire as well. Almost 80 security forces as well as protestors have been killed that day. The EU declared individual sanctions against those responsible for the violence and the foreign ministers of Germany, France and Poland began to establish a mediation mission.
On the 21st of February, the Ukrainian government and opposition leaders signed a preliminary agreement. The deal set out plans "to hold early presidential elections, form a national unity government and revert to the 2004 constitution, removing some of the president's powers" (The Guardian, 2014). But things did not go as planned: The Ukrainian parliament deposed Yanukovych from office and new elections were assigned for the 25th of May. Yanukovych opted for flight to the East of the Ukraine and disappeared since he has been accused for wholesale murder. The Parliament "named speaker Olexander Turchynov as interim president" and "an arrest warrant was issued for Yanukovych", whilst “the acting president warned of the dangers of separatism" (The BBC News 2014).
A fact that limits the exact representation of the happenings at the Euromaidan is that the event was geographically distant from the location this paper has been written from. It was not feasible to observe and study the events on site. However, the focus of this thesis has been put on these events and ends with the date of the 23rd of February 2014.
A question that is worth to be discussed though is how the Ukrainian protests have been portrayed and depicted by the press. There are lots of problematic points that can distort meticulous and balanced reporting which play a role in the coverage of protest events. We should not forget that there exists a strong interaction among news media, politics and protests. They are part of each other and the media are never neutral unselective recorders of events (Oliver & Maney, 2000, p. 464). It will also pay to remember that often only a small fraction, or at least not the full-scale of the protests is shown. This again raises the potential for selection bias. At the broadest level, some protest events have higher rates of coverage than other ones, in the least because "the type of organisation sponsoring the event coverage had a major effect on the prospects for coverage" (Oliver & Maney, 2000, p. 471). Furthermore, the real-time capacity creates some challenges which news systems have to deal with. "When stressing speed, news organisations may be tempted to cut corners in what should be a deliberative process of judging newsworthiness and determining accuracy" (Seib, 2004, p. 11). The first aim is to provide fast information and to be the first news organisation that is up to date. "Even if their version of the story is not quite ready, they may rush it onto the air or onto their website to keep pace with the competition" (p. 11).
There are, of course, many local and individual media existing, which provide their information from rather unusual perspectives and have a smaller audience, such as arte, 3sat or Vice, to name some. Mass media on the other hand, have other intentions. The clue is in the name: mass media is trying to reach a mass audience. As many people as possible and as fast as they can is the name of the game. In order to attain their goal, they have to deal with a "struggle for visibility", as John B. Thompson (1995) puts it. Reaping attention has to do do with competition between different publishers and newspapers. Thereby, the showcase of violent confrontations is a very efficient means to an end, since violence and dramatic situations raise attention (Gitlin, 1980). This might have also happened in the case of Ukrainian protests and its news coverage. The subsequent analysis of online news articles will work out, in what ways mistakes in the process of coverage have been made.
To illustrate the issue as being presented, a more detailed view should be submitted to the Maidan protests. Here, the example of Ukrainian unrest and their news coverage can show, how erroneousness of news coverage have arisen in specific cases as well. This section discusses explicitly the mistakes that have been made during the news coverage by German Newspapers about the Maidan protests. Gabriele Krone-Schmalz, former Russia- correspondent for a renowned TV Association of public broadcasters in Germany, was able to enumerate and summarise all points of critique which were already uttered by many internet users, who read online articles about the situation at the Maidan. The following charges the media has to deal with can be seen as a harsh critique on current journalism. A remarkable percentage of readerships of various newspapers complain more and more about the imbalance and bias of news coverage, especially considering the Ukrainian and Russian image that is portrayed by Western mass media. Schmalz´ overall argumentation and the list of mistakes she mentions will be reflected in the following paragraphs.
First of all, "correct background information is of great importance in order to report in an objective and reliable manner" (Berbner, 2014). However, it seems to be the case that not all journalists and authors of newspapers are correctly informed about the EU association agreement, which automatically biased their misleading information. In addition, there was "a lack of precision of used concepts and terms" (Berbner, 2014). One example could be the incorrect use of the term Europe and the European Union. When the EU was meant, some mass media organisations spoke of Europe, which is of course not the same. The vocabulary many mass media formats made use of also represents "an imprecise explanation for the real incidents" (Berbner, 2014). Words such as "obviously", "likely", or "probably" have been used interchangeably. They are not very concrete and express the skepticism towards the ongoing occurrences.
Bachelorarbeit, 36 Seiten
Bachelorarbeit, 36 Seiten
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