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Darfur: Mass Media Framing of International Intervention, 2003-2007
Unformatted Document Text:  providing” function of mass media. We believe that the use of different sampling procedures for television and newspapers gives the study both breadth and depth and allows us to track the relative attractiveness of the international intervention option as presented by major American news media over the duration of the conflict prior to the agreement by the Sudanese government in the spring of 2007 to accept a UN peacekeeping force. 12 FINDINGS Television Coverage 1There were no broadcast network primetime television news stories dealing with Darfur during 2003, the first year of the conflict. Evening news coverage began on May 26, 2004, and over the next four years a total of 72 stories dealt with the conflict at least to the extent that the word “Darfur” appeared in the Vanderbilt Television News Archive’s Story Abstracts:19 such stories aired in 2004, 15 in 2005, 30 in 2006, and 8 during the first four months of 2007. ABC occupied pride of place among the networks featuring 36 stories (50% of the total), NBC aired 21 stories (29%), while CBS ran 15 stories (21%). Our sample of 50 stories running for at least one minute in length represents 69% of all that were aired by the four networks during the study period. Television news coverage was slow to develop and with only 72 stories aired by the three networks over four years, clearly the Darfur crisis never came even close to becoming a “mega- story,” confirming Allan Thompson’s assessment. In addition to the small number of stories, another indicator of relatively low interest is that no Darfur story led off a newscast. However, given the impediments to coverage of Sudan identified in the literature, it appears that at least some effort was made, especially by ABC News, to alert the American public to what was happening in Darfur fairly early on in the crisis. 15

Authors: Sidahmed, Abdel., Briggs, E.. and Soderlund, Walter.
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providing” function of mass media. We believe that the use of different sampling procedures for
television and newspapers gives the study both breadth and depth and allows us to track the
relative attractiveness of the international intervention option as presented by major American
news media over the duration of the conflict prior to the agreement by the Sudanese government
in the spring of 2007 to accept a UN peacekeeping force.
12
FINDINGS
Television Coverage
1There were no broadcast network primetime television news stories dealing with Darfur
during 2003, the first year of the conflict. Evening news coverage began on May 26, 2004, and
over the next four years a total of 72 stories dealt with the conflict at least to the extent that the
word “Darfur” appeared in the Vanderbilt Television News Archive’s Story Abstracts:19 such
stories aired in 2004, 15 in 2005, 30 in 2006, and 8 during the first four months of 2007. ABC
occupied pride of place among the networks featuring 36 stories (50% of the total), NBC aired
21 stories (29%), while CBS ran 15 stories (21%). Our sample of 50 stories running for at least
one minute in length represents 69% of all that were aired by the four networks during the study
period.
Television news coverage was slow to develop and with only 72 stories aired by the three
networks over four years, clearly the Darfur crisis never came even close to becoming a “mega-
story,” confirming Allan Thompson’s assessment. In addition to the small number of stories,
another indicator of relatively low interest is that no Darfur story led off a newscast. However,
given the impediments to coverage of Sudan identified in the literature, it appears that at least
some effort was made, especially by ABC News, to alert the American public to what was
happening in Darfur fairly early on in the crisis.
15


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