Enemy Images and the Journalistic Process

Peer-reviewed Journal Article

Ottosen, Rune (1995) Enemy Images and the Journalistic Process, Journal of Peace Research 32(1): 97–112.

​This article discusses changes in enemy image in the three Norwegian daily newspapers through a comparative analysis of the coverage of four international conflicts: the Iraqi invasion of Iran in 1980, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990, martial law in Poland in 1981 and martial law in Romania in 1989. Content analysis of a sample of 915 articles shows how Norway's traditional `enemy', the Soviet Union, ceases to be an enemy during this ten-year period. The study compares newspaper coverage of the social unrest in Poland, when the threat of Soviet intervention was manifest, with coverage of the rebellion against Ceauşescu in Romania. The author discusses what has happened since the Soviet Union ceased to be the `main threat' to Norwegian security. Has a `new' enemy linked to Islam emerged? This is discussed while comparing news coverage of the Iraqi invasion of Iran with that of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. This sample found several articles revealing prejudice against Muslims in general, but enemy images were mainly linked with the Ayatollah Khomeini in the first invasion and with Saddam Hussein in the second. The dominant use of enemy images of these two leaders is in itself an interesting part of the coverage. The author concludes that enemy images are obstacles to analytical journalism, making it more difficult for journalists to see the obvious parallels between the two invasions. Enemy images are projected mainly in editorials and commentary columns and less so in straight news articles. However, the angling of articles through headlines, illustrations and cartoons may reveal the attitudes of news desks as to who the `enemy' is, even when the text itself is written in `neutral' prose.

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Authors

Rune Ottosen

Rune Ottosen

Information Director / Researcher