Covering ISIS in the British media: Exploring agenda-setting in The Guardian newspaper
Dogan, Sare Selvi Ozturk
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Dogan, T. and Dogan, S.S.O. (2020) 'Covering ISIS in the British media: Exploring agenda-setting in The Guardian newspaper', Journal of Arab & Muslim Media Research, 13(2), pp. 195-213.
Self-proclaimed ‘Islamic State’ (ISIS) hit the news headlines across the globe in the post-Arab Uprisings period. Its main aim was to replace the ‘colonialist borders’ of the Middle East created with the Sykes–Picot agreement in 1916. One of the atrocities of this terror network was against a minority in Iraq, the Yazidis. Whereas other victims of ISIS, such as Alawites, Druze, Ismailis and Turkmen, have not been covered thoroughly in the British and US media, Yazidis – in particular Yazidi women – dominated the titles. Notwithstanding, the framing of the Yazidis has been influential in the engagement of the Obama administration against ISIS’ move in the Levant; the Kurdish minority is still under threat today because of their ethnic and religious identity. This article discusses how agenda-setting effects the news media’s power to shape individual attitudes and public opinion. The Guardian’s agenda-setting is discussed in this article as a credible, ‘most liberal’ and ‘most trusted’ news brand in the United Kingdom. A content analysis of news articles regarding the plight of Yazidi population in Iraq and its continuous coverage mostly focusing on Yazidi women was conducted, with the articles published at the time when the crisis broke out. The authors of this article apply the notions of an ‘East–West’ divide and ‘Othering’ to frame ISIS’ move in Mount Sinjar, Iraq. The study emphasizes that The Guardian not only set the agenda by prioritizing the circumstances of the Yazidi population, but also deployed frameworks of ‘orientalist’ depictions of Yazidi women as slaves of ISIS.