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Clash of coverage: An analysis of the cultural framing components of U.S. newspaper reporting on the 2011 protests in Bahrain
Unformatted Document Text:  Clash of Coverage 3 Upon reading news stories and seeing images from the Middle East in early 2011, it is hard not to draw comparisons to Eastern Europe circa 1989. As repressive regimes in the Arab World — Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia — faced unprecedented public protests, it seems natural to compare those ongoing events to previously repressed people dancing atop the Berlin Wall as well as the ousting of longtime despots like Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu. Making the comparison more theoretically compelling, the demise of the Cold War paradigm, which stated that the world was separated by wealthy nations and military conflict with poorer nations, brought a new paradigm in the form of Samuel Huntington’s controversial clash of civilizations. Huntington argued that the future would not be characterized by conflict between nations but between civilizations. While his thesis has been widely rejected in academic circles, it retains a great deal of currency among news media analyses — a finding that was confirmed by Bantimaroudis and Kampanellou’s work (2009), which resulted in the cultural framing hypothesis. This hypothesis asserted that the media promote Huntington’s clash of civilizations in their reporting on conflict situations. As citizens in the Middle East began protesting in the face of repression and lack of economic opportunity, the question arises as to whether or not these people are being covered by the news media in a manner congruent with Huntington’s paradigm as seen through the cultural framing hypothesis. That is, the news coverage of the protests in the Arab World may be illustrating Huntington’s clash in civilizations (i.e. Western thought versus non-Western thought). The rising conflict in Bahrain offers a useful case study for the comparison.

Authors: Hoewe, Jennifer. and Bowe, Brian J..
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Clash of Coverage
Upon reading news stories and seeing images from the Middle East in early 
2011, it is hard not to draw comparisons to Eastern Europe circa 1989. As repressive 
regimes in the Arab World — Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Libya, Yemen, Saudi Arabia — 
faced unprecedented public protests, it seems natural to compare those ongoing events 
to previously repressed people dancing atop the Berlin Wall as well as the ousting of 
longtime despots like Romania’s Nicolae Ceausescu.
Making the comparison more theoretically compelling, the demise of the Cold 
War paradigm, which stated that the world was separated by wealthy nations and 
military conflict with poorer nations, brought a new paradigm in the form of Samuel 
Huntington’s controversial clash of civilizations. Huntington argued that the future would 
not be characterized by conflict between nations but between civilizations. While his 
thesis has been widely rejected in academic circles, it retains a great deal of currency 
among news media analyses — a finding that was confirmed by Bantimaroudis and 
Kampanellou’s work (2009), which resulted in the cultural framing hypothesis. This 
hypothesis asserted that the media promote Huntington’s clash of civilizations in their 
reporting on conflict situations.
As citizens in the Middle East began protesting in the face of repression and lack 
of economic opportunity, the question arises as to whether or not these people are 
being covered by the news media in a manner congruent with Huntington’s paradigm as 
seen through the cultural framing hypothesis. That is, the news coverage of the protests 
in the Arab World may be illustrating Huntington’s clash in civilizations (i.e. Western 
thought versus non-Western thought). The rising conflict in Bahrain offers a useful case 
study for the comparison.

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