RESEARCH TOPIC: MEDIA COVERAGE OF THE 2020 UNITED STATES PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION THROUGH THE CONFLICT REPORTING PERSPECTIVE
Description: Conflict reporting studies focus mainly on the way wars, armed conflicts, and crisis situations are portrayed in the media, as well as the conditions of journalists in conflict zones (Rodgers, 2012). It seems, however, that this perspective can also be used to analyze other socio-political events, e.g. presidential elections, where the element of conflict is highlighted by the media. It seems interesting to examine media reports through two types of conflict reporting distinguished by Johan Galtung (2006) – peace and war journalism. Peace journalism involves presenting the perspectives and lies of all parties to the dispute, humanizing the parties to the conflict, taking into account opinions of the civilians (not only the elite), emphasizing common elements and not only differences between the parties to the conflict, and proposing solutions. War journalism is the reverse of peace journalism, emphasizing the antagonism between the parties to the conflict by highlighting the division of “us” versus “them”, dehumanizing “the enemy”, exposing lies of only one side of the dispute (“their”) (Galtung describes this element as “propaganda-oriented”) and focusing on the victory of one of the actors (Galtung, 2006; Nohrstedt & Ottosen, 2014: 86-87). The aim of our research is to test the usefulness of the conflict reporting perspective for the analysis of presidential election coverage. Using content analysis with elements of frame analysis and comparative analysis, we plan to analyze the media coverage of the presidential election in the USA in the three TV news programs in Poland – Wiadomości (TVP), Fakty (TVN) and Wydarzenia (Polsat). These media were chosen because of their level of politicization (Dobek-Ostrowska, 2011), and also because this type of media still remains one of the main sources of information for Poles (Reuters Institute Digital News Report, 2020: 77; CBOS, 2019: 1). These are also mainstream media, which according to Galtung (2006: 1), may favor the dominance of the war journalism perspective. On the other hand, the fact that the election takes place in another country might speak in favor of the peace perspective. Our research will therefore present which perspective – peace or war – was dominant in the coverage and why, and what differences in this respect exist between the analyzed media. While focusing on the Polish perspective, it will also be important to investigate whether and through what context-oriented mechanisms (Zerback & Holzleitner, 2017) the election was domesticated by the media (Olausson, 2013). We also want to check whether the polarized nature of the election could have highlighted the polarization of media and politics in Poland.
Keywords: presidential election, USA, Poland, conflict reporting, media coverage
Team: Katarzyna Czornik, Mariusz Kolczyński, Róża Norström