Skip to main content
Article thumbnail
Location of Repository

Narrative Manipulation of Images from the Iraq War

By David Hiles


My personal feeling is that citizens of the democratic societies should undertake a\ud course in intellectual self-defence to protect themselves from manipulation and\ud control. (Noam Chomsky, 1989a)\ud This paper is offered in the spirit of Noam Chomsky’s plea that everyone\ud should undertake a course in Intellectual Self-Defence. Welcome then to\ud ISD101. We will begin with the observation that anyone in the UK who\ud watched the ‘breaking news’ coverage of the second Gulf war with Iraq, in\ud March 2003, could not have helped noticing that they were often watching live\ud coverage from a battle zone in Iraq, ie. unfiltered, unedited and uncensored\ud images direct from Iraq. On first reflection, this would seem to contradict a key\ud feature of Herman and Chomsky’s (1988) well known Propaganda Model -\ud that such coverage needed to be heavily filtered and controlled. I will argue\ud that in this new era of 24 hour breaking news it is no longer possible to control\ud broadcast images, but it would seem that with appropriate media briefings the\ud meanings can be ‘fixed’. I therefore propose an expansion of the propaganda\ud model, which incorporates Stuart Hall’s notion of fixing the meaning. This is\ud supported by an analysis of the narrative manipulation of images from the Iraq\ud war over a seven-day period, early in the conflict. This analysis supports my\ud claim that it is not the images that we see that matters, but it is what we are told\ud that they mean, that really does matter. This has obvious implications for\ud understanding the inter-relationship between narrative, memory and\ud knowledge

Topics: BF
Publisher: University of Huddersfield
Year: 2006
OAI identifier:

Suggested articles


  1. (1986). Actual Minds, Possible Worlds, doi
  2. (2003). Blair’s Wars, doi
  3. (2005). Contingent Narratives: Fears and tremblings,
  4. (1999). Doing Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis, doi
  5. (2003). Embedded: The media at war in Iraq - an oral history, doi
  6. (2003). Images and transcriptions available from Centcom. [n.b. these are linked from:
  7. (1988). Manufacturing Consent: The political economy of the mass media, doi
  8. (1991). Media Control: The spectacular achievements of propaganda,
  9. (1989). Narrative Manipulation of Images from the Iraq War ______________________________________________________________________ Chomsky,
  10. (1997). Noam Chomsky: A life of dissent, doi
  11. (2001). Propaganda and the Human Mind, London,
  12. (1997). Representation and the Media, doi
  13. (2004). Tell Me Lies: Propaganda and media distortion in the attack on Iraq, doi
  14. (2004). The War Against Truth: An intimate account of the invasion of Iraq,
  15. (2003). Weapons of Mass Deception: The uses of propaganda in Bush’s war on Iraq, doi

To submit an update or takedown request for this paper, please submit an Update/Correction/Removal Request.