The UK media-state nexus in the context of post-9/11 terrorism policy
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AbstractFollowing the terrorist attacks on America on 11 September 2001, the New Labour government enacted an unprecedented amount of terrorism legislation in the form of the Anti-Terrorism, Crime and Security Act 2001, the Prevention of Terrorism Act 2005, the Terrorism Act 2006, and finally the Counter-Terrorism Act 2008. Whilst the government viewed these terrorism laws as vital to national security, many of the measures contained in these acts, such as control orders and increased detentions, provoked intense debates over civil liberties. Much research on media-state relations in the context of responses to 9/11 have found evidence to support the elite-driven paradigm, whereby the media have been shown to fail in their adversarial ‘watchdog’ role by acting as ‘faithful servants’ (Wolfsfeld, 1997) to the political agenda. This research tested these assumptions by examining the media framing of the UK government’s legislative responses to terrorism post-9/11. In so doing, it analyses the relationship between the media and the New Labour government in the context of the policymaking process. To date, longitudinal studies that map the UK media-state nexus within the context of terrorism policymaking are lacking. This thesis therefore, addresses the lacunae in the scholarship. In terms of its theoretical framework, this thesis tests three competing models of media performance (elite-driven, oppositional and independent) on British press reporting of the parliamentary debates (Robinson et al., 2010). Methodologically, it takes an inductive approach to analysing the framing of the debates, and draws on material gleaned from interviews with four former home secretaries. The findings reveal that of the three meta-frames (national security, civil liberties and party politics), the politics frame dominated across all four case studies. Although government sources dominated the debates, the evidence suggests that they had limited influence over the news agenda, which runs contra to the elite-driven (redefined here as government-driven) hypothesis. Instead, at an aggregate level, the evidence lends greater support for the independent model. There is also evidence that some sections of the press did subject the legislation to more robust scrutiny, and thus, to some degree, fulfilled their role as political watchdogs, which supports the oppositional thesis.
CitationThomas, L. (2014) 'The UK Media-State Nexus in the Context of Post-9/11 Terrorism Policy'. PhD thesis. University of Bedfordshire
PublisherUniversity of Bedfordshire
TypeThesis or dissertation
DescriptionA thesis submitted to the University of Bedfordshire in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy
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