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Narrative Manipulation of Images from the Iraq War

By David Hiles

Abstract

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: oai:eprints.hud.ac.uk:4898

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