For scholars of media and war, the 2003 invasion of Iraq is a compelling case to study. As part of President Bush’s "war on terror," the invasion was the most controversial British foreign policy decision since Suez, and its ramifications and aftermath have rarely been far from the news. In the many political and public debates regarding this conflict, arguments over the role of the media have been omnipresent. For some, media coverage was biased against the war, for others it became a cheerleader for the invasion. Where does the truth lie? Drawing upon a uniquely-detailed and rich content and framing analysis of television and press coverage, and on interviews with some of the journalists involved, Pockets of Resistance provides an authoritative assessment of how British news media reported the 2003 Iraq invasion and also of the theoretical implications of this case for our understanding of wartime media-state relations. Pockets of Resistance examines the successes and failures of British television news as it sought to attain independence under the difficult circumstances of war, and describes and explains the emergence of some surprisingly vociferous anti-war voices within a diverse national press. In debunking political claims of anti-war media bias, as well as portraying media-state relations in a more nuanced fashion than in most existing accounts in the field, this study offers a theoretically-grounded starting point for a more nuanced understanding of how and why media report war in the way that they do. Essential reading for scholars, advanced students, journalists and policy makers.
Like war itself the academic study of media performance in times of war is no less fraught with contending interpretations and opposing claims. Are the media elite driven, independent or oppositional, or possibly all three under changing conditions? Pockets of Resistance, through careful empirical analysis and lucid argument focused on the Iraq invasion of 2003, intervenes into the heart of contemporary debates about media, democracy and legitimised killing and death. An important new landmark and essential vantage point on the contested field of media and war studies. Simon Cottle, Professor of Media and Communications, Cardiff University. Pockets of Resistance reveals that journalists are both more and less autonomous from government sources than is commonly appreciated. This exhaustive analysis of British war coverage during the 2003 invasion of Iraq shows that journalists are just as dependent on official voices and mainstream storylines as they were during the Cold War. But war coverage that supports government positions results more from the patriotism of reporters than from military spin or a heavy reliance on government sources. War coverage that criticizes government positions is often produced by the journalistic imperative to write interesting news stories and from the structure of national media systems, which can create a lucrative audience for contrarian news. Richly detailed and engagingly presented, this important contribution to the literature on press independence places journalists once again at the center of the story. It is a must readA" for anyone who wants to know how the 24-7 news system covers national security crises, and why that coverage takes the shape that it does. Scott L. Althaus, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign