THE DISCOURSE OF CONFLICT AND MEDIA PROPAGANDA: AN ANALYSIS OF THE SELECTED US NEWSPAPER EDITORIALS
Keywords:Media, Conflict, Propaganda, Discourse Analysis, Agenda-setting, Cognitive Hacking
The phenomenon of agenda-setting and cognitive hacking is at the heart of the entertainment medium in general and news medium in particular. Mass media has the discretion to choose certain news stories over others. Consequently, it is the media that decide to pick and choose numerous issues and aspects of news. Keeping this in mind, the paper explores propaganda, persuasion, and the operation of power through language in the discourse of conflict. The paper examines the selected editorials of the two mainstream American newspapers i.e. the “New York Times” and the “Washington Post”. The time frame for the collection of data is from turn of the century October 9, 2001 to August, 22 2017. Data has been collected from the archives of the e-papers of the two selected newspapers. Non-probability purposive sampling has been taken into consideration to select the editorials in the light of selected themes such as war on terror, nuclear proliferation, Pakistan’s military, Pakistan and South Asia and the US-Pakistan relations etc. The research is based on the theoretical framework comprising of the works of van Dijk, Laclau and Mouffee and McCombs. The research findings indicate that in the discourse of conflict, there are various linguistic choices, sentence structures and peculiar expressions of language, which are utilized to propagate an agenda, and therefore one-sided account of certain instances become a norm. The study is a testimony to this fact, and that is why in the selected sample language has been exploited to depict a bleak, gloomy and negative side of Pakistan. Pakistan has been portrayed as a country which implicitly and explicitly not just supports but endorses terrorism. Moreover, the use of syntactic style, sentence construction, and the notion of central and floating signifier throw light on the expression of power through language.