Winning or losing media support for regime change
: A comparative analysis of UK government media agenda building during the Suez 1956 and Iraq 2003 conflicts

  • James Campbell

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study examines the means by which the UK government sought to win the support of the media in advance of taking military action in two separate conflicts in which regime change was the main government agenda and to which there was substantial internal domestic opposition. This opposition led to the necessity of winning the support of the media in order to influence public support in the lead-up to direct military action and to retain that support during the latter period and up to the cessation of formal military activities. Areas including overt and covert censorship and propaganda are examined in order to determine if they played any part in UK government media agenda building in the military actions being studied. The two conflicts examined are the Invasion of the Suez Canal Zone in Egypt in 1956 and the Iraq War of 2003, both of which are linked in that the military and political aims were regime change in the face of extensive international opposition, were without the fiat of a United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) and took place in the face of extensive domestic opposition. To overcome the third element required and effective media agenda building policy on behalf of the government in power. Previous academic work in this field has been weighted from the media’s point of view, whereas this study examines media agenda building as a part of government and military policy which in itself is an integral part of the act of war. The findings show the conflicts within a media wishing to retain traditional journalistic objectivity and freedom of expression during a time of conflict when there are domestic and patriotic pressures to support the troops in the field and, as a de facto result, support the political agenda The findings also reveal the problems, changes and shifts in government media handling policy carried out in order to retain or win media support for UK armed interventions in both conflicts named here.

    The methodology involved in the preparation of this dissertation involves a scrutiny of academic analysis of the events, investigation of primary source material on UK government decision-making held at the National Archives, an investigation of contemporary diaries, autobiographies, interview recordings and memoirs of government and media personnel involved in both conflicts and, in the case of the Iraq 2003 episode, personal interviews with key government and media people involved.
    Date of Award30 Jan 2013
    Original languageEnglish

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