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Media Framing and Public Opinion: The Coverage of the 2008 Russia-Georgia War

Open Panel

Abstract

This paper attempts to examine the framing and agenda setting functions of media in international conflicts by focusing on the 2008 Russia-Georgia war. In our content analysis of the coverage in two major US newspapers, we find that the framing of the conflict was overwhelmingly anti-Russia and that the type of sources used affected the way the conflict was framed. In addition, our survey results show that the US public opinion on Russia has been negatively affected by the conflict and that an increase in the media exposure of respondents increased the likelihood of them blaming Russia exclusively in the conflict. This case study helps us understand how media can be powerful in constructing the narrative of an international conflict and in defining the attributes that the public uses in assessing whom to blame.