Media Frame Analysis: Western News Media Frame on Iran Nuclear Deal

Media Frame

As we have noticed increasing media attention devoted to a “possible war against Iran,” “Iranian nuclear threat” and “Iran Nuclear deal.”  In July 14, 2015, Iran and six world powers including U.S (P5+1) reached a nuclear deal to limit Iran’s nuclear ability in return for lifting international oil and financial sanctions. What soon followed was a well-coordinated a mass media framing of the agreement in terms of achievements and impact on world affairs.

Below are some examples I have observed on how the major media networks framed the deal on that day Tuesday July, 14 2015, right after the announcement of the agreement:

  • CNN: “Iran nuclear deal full of complex issues and moving parts
  • FoxNews: “Iran nuclear deal much worse than experts predicted
  • Followed by Thomas Friedman, the New York Times representative of the foreign-policy elite described the deal as “a good bad deal.”

The structure of these headlines reflects strong partisan views against the deal. It assumes that the deal is a bad for America and its allies in Middle East. As a result, the coverage reflected negative sentiments about Iran that are broadly shared by U.S. Republican Party, and Israeli leaders. As I was searching more news outlets on US-Iran deal, I ended up on a poll released by FoxNews cast: “31 percent would approve it, while nearly twice as many, 58 percent, would reject it.” But the accuracy of this poll is in discretion due to FOXNEWS’ conservative views. It is very important to understanding how the media use framing strategies to achieve persuasive goals and the impact on public opinion.

In contrary to the above headlines, the following news sources are more lenient on the deal. Two of these news sources below are based in London.

  • BBC: “Iran Nuclear Talks; historic agreement struck, a good deal for now
  • The Guardian: “historic deal agreement in Vienna.”
  • Islamic Republic News Agency (IRNA) “world powers have recognized Iran’s peaceful nuclear program and are to respect the nuclear rights of (Iran) within international”

These networks implies a signal of supporting the deal, of course they European Union and supports the agreement. For instance, an international new network, REUTERS headquartered in London- published on its headline on the same day the deal entered “Europe backs Iran nuclear deal in signal conventions.

It is not a surprise to see reports on the same story defined differently that make the audience confused. Historically, using media-frame analysis, the treatment of Iran by the U.S. media in different periods, namely before and during the year of Revolution, and observed that Iran was portrayed differently (Dorman 1987). Media framing strategy adopted by networks’ partisans to accept frames that fit their existing political affiliations. However, framing is an unavoidable and natural part of the communication and news-making process especially an issue relates in foreign policy (Robert Entman 1992). A veteran Washington Post reporter Walter Pincus said “It is not the responsibility of the journalist to provide comprehensive coverage every time on every subject,” he insisted, “instead, it is the obligation of the reader to explore these issues in greater depth and draw their own conclusions.”

The story of the deal story is being reported, and wondered to what extent the media can “meaningfully assess” what numerous sources are saying. On my analysis on this specific topic by reviewing different mass media sources, major networks and other media outlets have been commenting on this story differently.

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