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Media and the War in Iraq Report

Session A: Cultural studies

The cultural studies approach to the effects of media and media related aspects suggests that there can be three main hypothesis and explanations. The first of such hypothesis uses capitalism as the basis of segregation of the society into subgroups and alienated groupings.

These groupings are based on social economic ethical and physical characteristics such as race, nationality sexual orientation education as well as political opinion. In every such division there exists a further subdivision between the majority and subordinate groups of individuals (Deakin University (DU). 2009).

The subordinates are therefore assimilated by the majority opinion that is advertised and marketed by the media. The assimilation occurs through constant aggressive and determined media coverage of a series of events. For instance as suggested by the key note address, the media due to the motivation and funding of the majority who were for pro war ideology was able to bring the war to the living room.

Those against the war were left with little option but to sympathize with the sites of suffering pain and agony of the victims (Hall 1996). In effect, they became slowly naturalized to the idea that there had to be a war. The naturalization is achieved through a hegemony process.

This is a process that involves the calculated and planned winning of the consent of the subordinate groups to an ideology of the dominant groups. The ideology of the dominant need not be the actual feasible and beneficial ideology but rather that which appeals to those who matter.

The majority therefore need not be in numbers but in influence. The subordinates are easily swayed by a clever advertisement that sways their loyalty. This therefore means that there is a certain category of persons who are really influenced due to either lack of knowledge or insufficient knowledge. The media was manipulated strategically positioned and stage-managed into a smooth selling narrative with a pro war agenda (Sparks 2006, p89).

Session B: The Toronto school

Technology and by extension the media as a whole has a great bearing on the rate and direction of social change (Fitzgerald 2001). Technologies are readily available to for the use and manipulation of society depending on the nature and use of such technology. The direction and bearing of technology as a driver of social change however relies and depends on several factors such as economic social and political values.

The undeniably significant role of the media in directing and guiding opinion and ideas in the Iraq war is evident in the key note address where the war is marketed and sold in the form of a smooth selling acceptable and fluid narrative. The individual approach to the war depends on the various perspectives and opinions that were put to the individual about the war. In essence, the soldiers fought an entirely different war from the war that they are congratulated and remembered for.

The media packaged the war into a justified and inevitable consequence of provocation and a series of unjustified injustices. As White ( 2011 ) puts it “the war you saw depended on where you lived and the different angles, stories and perspectives you were subjected to” the societal determinism approach therefore embraces this aspect of media influence.

The world has transitioned from the media to the mass media eras to get to the multi-media age where the world is no longer divided in geographical regions in as far as media information and connectivity. McLuhan (1969, 53-158) explains of the global village concept as the unification of the world into a “massive, modern day tribal community” held together by the power of instantaneous communication (Sparks 2009, p241).

This has increased the stake that the media has on the general world opinion. It has raised the amount of interest as well as the role that the media plays maintaining order and or disorder. Even further, the presentation of a message greatly influences the actual message. Therefore the message may be common but the manner in which it is presented determines heavily how it will be received and interpreted.

A picture and a cartoon of the same will give different perceptions of the same picture (Cunningham and Flew 1997, p23), the quality and manner of the presentation of the information determines the message that will be conveyed. The severity or otherwise of the actual war and the broadcasted war differed a lot. The media war was more severe and painful to the viewers than the actual war was to the soldiers despite the fact that they were supposed to be of the same idea.

The war as it was broadcasted though various media mechanisms differed greatly in severity and magnitude and therefore there were varying ideas conceptions and opinions of the same war. It was convenient for the 71 % media sources to report a severe and more punitive war in furtherance of their opinion even if it involved infiltration of the actual events and happenings of the war. As Sparks (2009) puts it, the media motivated and cultivated one big group emotion (80).

Session C: Critical Theory

The media plays a great and fundamental role in influencing and directing public interest. It is the states responsibility to secure and safeguard public interest. This therefore creates an interdependent relationship between the government and the media.

This interdependence creates room for the government to pollute and manipulate the media to suit its convictions whether they are for or against public interest. As it were, matters of public interest are highly scrutinized by the public since they affect a great number of people and therefore stir up great emotion.

The media therefore possesses a great power in the public domain that is often polluted and abused by governments to further self interest. The media therefore develops a mysterious or fictional perspective that is convincing and appealing to the public. In the key note address it was clear that there existed other alternative viable options as against the attack of Iraq.

There was a considerable and available option of international interventions thought the international community (Gordon 1997). Bodies such as the United Nations had the capacity to interpretively and comprehensively investigate the claims of possession weapons of mass destruction. The united nations had commenced a weapons investigation in to the claims but due to the polluted media coverage and reporting the united states by passed these alternatives and went on to launch a defensive war (Fiske 1992, pp. 284–326).

The government however abused their power by giving little regard to this option and proceeding to weaponize and subsequently attack Iraq.


The keynote address does not solidly subscribe to one theory or school of thought. It is however best explained in great respects by the Toronto school.

The critical responsibility that is borne by critical journalists and key note presenters maintains a continuous and viable force that drives the mass media movement in a consistent and stable direction. The media has however been corrupted and literally employed to serve specific interests.

The media left the anti war activists to be marginalized and choked by the dominant thought. This therefore means that the pentagon made a strategic and planned media strategies that moved beyond the mere public relations developing the attack of Iraq as a sweet narrative that presented Iraq as the problem and an attack as the only solution.

The plans were highly funded and motivated with media being given hints and leads that compromised actual proper reporting (Schechter 2004). Individual reporter’s rights such as the BBC news reporters were violated and not reported in Bagdad to secure their offices (12). This therefore means that the fancy for a war was up and motivated and there was no turning back. This led to the subsequent attach and death of thousands of citizens and innocent persons.


Cunningham, S & Flew, T.1997. ‘Media futures’, in S Cunningham & G Turner(eds), The media in Australia: industries, texts, audiences, 2nd edn,Allen & Unwin, St Leonards.

Deakin University (DU). 2009. Approaches to media: Audiences and Effects. Deakin University: Geelong Custom Publication –Cengage Learning.

Fiske, J. 1992. British cultural studies and television, in RC Allen (ed.),Channels of discourse, reassembled, 2nd edn pp. 284–326. London: Routledge,

Fitzgerald, J. 2001. Marshall McLuhan: wiseguy Montréal, Canada: XYZ Publishing,

Gordon, W.T. 1997. Marshall McLuhan: escape into understanding—a biography.. New York: Basic Books

Hall, S. 1996. ‘Encoding/decoding’, in S Hall, D Hobson, A Lowe &P Willis (eds), Culture, media, language, Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, University of Birmingham.UK, pp. 128–38.

McLuhan, M. 1969. Extract from the ‘Interview with Eric Norden’, Playboy,March, pp. 53–62, 64–6, 68, 70, 72, 74, 158.

Schechter, D (director).2004. Weapons of mass deception . US: Global Vision.

Sparks, G, G. 2009. Media effects research: A basic overview, 3ed, Wadsworth Belmont, CA. Cengage Learning

White, S. 2011. Toronto school discussion, Group 13 Toronto School Discussion, Online. Available at www.deakin.edu.au/DSO

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1. IvyPanda. "Media and the War in Iraq." March 24, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-and-the-war-in-iraq/.


IvyPanda. "Media and the War in Iraq." March 24, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-and-the-war-in-iraq/.


IvyPanda. 2019. "Media and the War in Iraq." March 24, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/media-and-the-war-in-iraq/.


IvyPanda. (2019) 'Media and the War in Iraq'. 24 March.

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