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Through the News Prism: Visions of Papua New Guinea in the British Media

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A study of British news coverage of Papua New Guinea over a 14-month period. The project utilises content analysis and elements of close textual analysis to examine British national newspapers and …

A study of British news coverage of Papua New Guinea over a 14-month period. The project utilises content analysis and elements of close textual analysis to examine British national newspapers and the BBC online in their coverage of the Pacific nation, aiming to determine the image that is portrayed. An interview with ABC's Papua New Guinea correspondent, Liam Fox, is also introduced to explore the reasons why the nation receives the coverage it does, and what this means for the future of international coverage.

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  • 1. THROUGH THE NEWS PRISM VISIONS OF PAPUA NEW GUINEA IN THE BRITISH MEDIA by ALICE CRANSHAW WOODWARD This dissertation is submitted to the Cardiff School of Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies, Cardiff University, in partial fulfilment of the requirements for the Degree of Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, Media and Cultural Studies May 2013
  • 2. ii Declaration I declare that this dissertation is the result of my own efforts. The various sources to which I am indebted are clearly indicated in the references in the text and in the bibliography. I further declare that this work has never been accepted in the substance of any degree, and is not being concurrently submitted in candidature for any other degree. I hereby give consent for my dissertation to be available for photocopying and for inter- library loan, and for the title and summary to be made available to outside organisations. Alice Woodward (Candidate) Stephen Cushion (Supervisor)
  • 3. iii Acknowledgements I would like to take the chance to firstly thank and express my appreciation to my dissertation supervisor, Dr Stephen Cushion. I am extremely grateful for all of your advice throughout this challenging process, your insightful feedback helped shape my work. I would like to acknowledge Liam Fox of ABC news, who gave up his time to speak with me, a valuable contribution for which I am grateful. To a fantastic group of friends, both old and new, who have been there throughout the ups and downs of university, always willing to offer help and guidance. I extend my gratitude to Alleyne, for her literary advice and approval of my work. You assured me I was following the correct path when I doubted myself. Finally, I would like to thank my family. To my brother, Josh, and our parents, Hartley and Stella, for their encouragement and assurance from the outset, providing the pillar of support they always have. If it was not for their love and belief I would not have made it this far.
  • 4. iv Abstract The current study investigates coverage of Papua New Guinea across British national newspapers and the BBC’s online news, focusing on the period between 2012 and 2013. Utilising a combination of content analysis and close textual analysis, the study aims to examine the portrayal of the nation in the British news, and explore how depictions vary across news outlets. The research also aims to identify which, of the many newsworthy events that took place in the nation over the 14-month period, received the most coverage. Findings reveal that the royal visit from Prince Charles and Camilla ranked highest on the news agenda. Beyond this, negative stories that presented the nation and its people as brutish featured highly, while political issues were widely overlooked by the British press. The public service broadcaster stood out as upholding a hard news agenda, while at the other end of the spectrum, tabloids perceptibly amplified the macabre. Mid-markets portrayed a more positive image of the nation than any other media type, and broadsheets, similar to the public service broadcaster, maintained a reasonable degree of objectivity in their reporting. Based on the wealth of literature surrounding news values, and incorporating the results of an interview with Papua New Guinea correspondent, Liam Fox, the study explores why Papua New Guinea receives the coverage it does. Stressing the impact of national identity in constructing nations beyond our borders, the implications for the future of international news are explored, alongside the rationale for maintaining foreign coverage in democratic society. Overall, the dissertation argues the importance of contextualising news from foreign nations to avoid negative typecasting, and prevent the gap between ‘us’ and ‘them’ from widening further.
  • 5. v Contents Declaration ii Acknowledgements iii Abstract iv Contents v List of Tables vii List of Figures vii Introduction 1 Chapter 1: Literature Review 4 1.1 Introduction 4 1.2 News Values: Reporting International Affairs 4 1.3 National Identity and the News: Manufacturing the ‘Other’ 6 1.4 Bad Things Happen in Bad Places: Western News Representation of ‘the Rest’ 8 1.5 Censored Democracy: What Future for International News? 9 1.6 Conclusion 11 Chapter 2: Methodology 12 2.1 Introduction 12 2.2 Research Design 12 2.3 Code Frame and Sample 14 2.4 Limitations 15 2.5 Conclusion 15 Chapter 3: Findings 17 3.1 Introduction 17 3.2 Topics, Traits, and Damaging Depictions 17
  • 6. vi 3.3 Tone of Coverage: Neutralising the Negative 22 3.4 Commonwealth Ties: The Royal Visit 24 3.5 Papuan Politics: Mutiny and Corruption? 26 3.6 Murder, Magic and Mayhem 28 3.7 When Disaster Strikes 30 3.8 Conclusion 31 Conclusion 33 Bibliography 38 Appendix A: Coding sheet 41 Appendix B: Codebook 43 Appendix C: Interview transcript 47
  • 7. vii List of Tables Description Page number 1. Primary themes by media type 18 2. Primary representation of Papua New Guinea 21 3. Tone of coverage by media type 23 4. Primary representation of Papua New Guinea in articles on the royal visit 24 List of Figures Description Page number 1. Attributes associated with Papua New Guinea people in articles 19 2. Tone of coverage of Papua New Guinea 22 3. Percentage of murder stories published across media outlets 28
  • 8. 1 Introduction In 2006, Boris Johnson, the now Mayor of London, wrote of the Labour party’s leadership crisis in The Daily Telegraph as comparable to “Papua New Guinea-style orgies of cannibalism and chief-killing”. The London High Commissioner for Papua New Guinea, Jean Kekedo, responded: I consider the comments, coming from a senior British MP, very damaging to the image of Papua New Guinea and an insult to the integrity and intelligence of all Papua New Guineans […] How far removed and ill-informed can Mr Johnson be from the reality of the situation in modern-day Papua New Guinea? (BBC, 8.09.06) Johnson’s comments are indicative of wider views, since the Western media have consistently been found to portray developing nations in a negative light (Lent 1977; Chang 1998; Franks 2004; Beer 2010), prone to distorting and amplifying events (Masmoudi 1984). Such coverage may influence public perception, upholding the world’s power structures and potentially stunting developing nations’ ability to progress (Delacroix and Ragin 1978). With a population of around 7 million, an estimated 87 per cent of which are living in rural areas1 , and over 800 indigenous languages2 , Papua New Guinea is one of the most diverse countries in the world. However, there has been little academic inquiry into how the nation is depicted in the Western news. This dissertation provides a systematic study of Papua New Guinea during the course of an eventful year, aiming to paint a representative picture of the Pacific nation as portrayed in the British news. The study seeks to examine UK reporting of a developing nation that is both geographically and culturally miles away, establishing differences between the reporting of public service and commercial news outlets, and between broadsheet, mid-market, and tabloid newspapers. Between January 2012 and February 2013, a number of newsworthy events took place in Papua New Guinea: a landslide wiped out at least 25 people in Nogoli; a passenger ferry sank off the coast of Lae killing at least 140 inhabitants; supporters of Sir Michael Somare initiated an unsuccessful coup to overthrow Peter O’Neill and reinstate Somare as Prime Minister; a rocky road to the general election saw an enduring power tussle between Somare 1 World Bank, The. 2011. Urban population (% of total). The World Bank Group [Online]. Available at: http://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SP.URB.TOTL.IN.ZS [Accessed: 20th April 2013] 2 Lewis, M.P., Simons, G.F, and Fennig, C.D. 2013. Ethnologue: Languages of the World. Ethnologue [Online] 17. Available at: http://www.ethnologue.com/country/PG [Accessed: 20th April 2013]
  • 9. 2 and O’Neill; members of a cannibal cult accused of murder were arrested in Madang; and a rising concern over the widespread belief in sorcery culminated in the murder of a young woman accused of practicing black magic in Mount Hagen. These events are evidently negative in nature. However, studies have consistently shown newsroom agendas prioritise bad news. One only has to flick through a newspaper to understand how bad news dominates the pages of dailies. The focus will therefore shift to which stories receive most coverage, and how the nation is portrayed. The next chapter reviews existing literature on newsroom values, discussing how they affect the flow of news from developing nations, and the light such portrayals are cast in. The impact of national identity in framing foreign nations will also be explored, and the democratic rationale for reporting international events will be considered. Overall, the chapter argues the importance of Western news expanding their radar to present a broader and more balanced panorama of the world. The methodology chapter then details how a content analysis was conducted on all UK national newspapers and the BBC online, followed by a close textual analysis of the articles produced. The research aims are outlined in detail, and the means for attaining answers to the proposed enquiries are explained. The chapter also states the limitations of the study, making suggestions for future research into the representation of developing nations, particularly those less explored in the Pacific region. The findings chapter explores dominant themes associated with Papua New Guinea in news articles. Representations of the nation and character traits associated with its inhabitants are also identified. The aim is to establish differences between broadsheet, mid-market, tabloid and public service broadcasters conveying news from the nation, and the overall image of the country that is portrayed. The conclusion reflects on the key findings, entering into a broader discussion of the implications for the future of Papua New Guinea and international news on the whole. Variations across media outlets will be discussed, and the news values identified in the literature review will be reconsidered. Results of an interview with foreign correspondent for
  • 10. 3 the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, Liam Fox, will be introduced to explore the broader issues surrounding the flow of news from developing nations to the West.
  • 11. 4 1. Literature Review 1.1 Introduction This chapter aims to contextualise the current study of British coverage of Papua New Guinea by reviewing and engaging with academic literature surrounding the structural principles that underpin newsroom selection of stories. The factors that influence international news flow and the portrayal of developing nations in Western media will be addressed, with the aim of understanding how Papua New Guinea might feature on the news agenda in the UK. A final section explores the future of international reporting, and the importance of international news maintaining its place on the Western news agenda. 1.2 News Values: Reporting International Affairs In order to understand the significance of the volume and nature of coverage of Papua New Guinea in British news, one needs to be informed of the extensive research into the news values that academics have established as shaping what becomes news. Östgaard’s early study of news values found that it is more difficult for news concerning unfamiliar persons or issues to pass into the public sphere than it is for news with which editors and audiences are familiar (1965: 46). Galtung and Ruge’s (1965) seminal study of values influencing foreign coverage in Norwegian newspapers endorsed this value under the title of ‘meaningfulness’, which suggests the culturally familiar navigates through the newsroom filter with greater ease. Galtung and Ruge ranked the primary factors of news selection as follows: frequency; threshold; unambiguity; meaningfulness; consonance; unexpectedness; continuity; composition; reference to elite nations; reference to elite people; reference to persons and reference to something negative (1965: 70). From these criteria, the authors theorised that once a story was selected, it would be distorted and the factors that led to its selection emphasised (ibid: 71). Chang (1998) echoed the finding that ‘meaningfulness’ dictates selection of news in his study of international coverage of a major world event; a value other academics have sanctioned under the label ‘cultural proximity’ or ‘cultural affinity’ (Wu 2007; Golan 2008).
  • 12. 5 Harcup and O’Neill (2001) exposed flaws in Galtung and Ruge’s study, since it focused on isolated events, largely dismissing day-to-day news stories. They studied three daily UK national newspapers over one month, proposing a revived set of news values: the power elite; celebrity; entertainment; surprise; bad news; good news; magnitude; relevance; follow-up; newspaper agenda (ibid: 279). Many of these are adapted from the original taxonomy, but brought into a contemporary context, and several studies have supported these findings. However, how well these carry across to a public service broadcaster like the BBC is open to question. Cushion reasoned that “public service media tend to have more regulatory obligations to cover more of the world, locally and globally” (2012: 14). Public broadcasting, due to the freedom from commercial pressures, is perceived to reflect a more realistic “window on the world” (ibid: 25) that other news organisations cannot. It has also been indicated that public broadcasters play a role in shaping national identities (ibid: 76-77), so it may be hypothesised that a study of BBC news coverage should reveal a greater volume of neutral reporting on Papua New Guinea. Academics have detected a positive correlation between how relevant a nation is and the amount of coverage it receives (Chang and Lee 1992; Golan 2008). Chang, utilising the world system theory developed by Wallerstein (1974), explored Reuters coverage of a World Trade Organization conference, and found that peripheral and semiperipheral countries were perceived as “insignificant, if not irrelevant” (1998: 544). This corresponds with Berglez’s (2008: 848) theory that global news networks such as CNN and the BBC, and international news agencies like Reuters, deliver a global outlook in their financial reporting, however, this is not necessarily consistent in their reporting of political, cultural and ecological news. It has consistently been found that not all countries are created equal in the international news arena (Chang 1998; Wu 2000; Golan 2008; Beer 2010), with the core countries directing the news flow, and peripheral countries constrained by the North-South paradigm. Chang noted: The hierarchical positions among nations in the world landscape have resulted in disproportional quantity and quality of news flow and coverage for developing and underdeveloped countries (1998: 533).
  • 13. 6 Thus, developing nations like Papua New Guinea struggle to find their place on the news agenda, and it may be predicted that when news from the country does break through the filter to the West, it appears within a negative framework. Some researchers have ascertained the emergence of a new post-Cold War framework for the selection of news, to replace the East versus West bipolar perspective (Wu 2000, 2003; Berglez 2008), within which economic interest takes precedence over ideological antagonism or cultural ties. As Wu (2003: 20) declared: “international news coverage gravitates to the powerful”. Therefore, the only way developing countries make it into the global limelight is through widespread disruptive occurrences (Wu 2000, 2003). Golan’s (2008) review of scholarship found four key variables that affect coverage: deviance; cultural affinity; relevance; and location in the world system. Perhaps Papua New Guinea may be expected to feature more highly on the agenda in the aftermath of deviant events that occurred during the sample period, such as crises and sorcery killings. However, the nation’s low rank in the world system may affect coverage. Cushion identified that scholarly research has demonstrated that: News delivers a highly partial prism through which to view and understand the world, consisting of a select few characters and countries, with a familiar set of conventions and practices and a relatively predictable agenda of concerns and anxieties (2012: 49-50). Such processes affect not only what is selected, but also how news is constructed, the image portrayed, and how audiences perceive the nation in question. In order to further explore this, it is necessary to divert attention to the impact of national identity on news. 1.3 National Identity and the News: Manufacturing the ‘Other’ Many academics have written of the connection between national identity and the media (Anderson 1983; Billig 1995; Berglez 2008). Beer (2010) employed the global journalism theory to study news flow from Africa to television news channels in three world regions. Beer recognised the contradictory impact of news institutions in strengthening the national state, but also deconstructing the notion of it in the context of globalisation (ibid: 597). Holohan précised the outcome of such shared myths: “the idea of the insider always creates an outsider” (2006: 16). Östgaard reached a similar conclusion: “the news media tend to reinforce or at least to uphold the divisions of the world between high status nations and low status nations” (1965: 55).
  • 14. 7 Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities (1983) explored the concept that national identity is socially constructed within the framework of a set of collective myths about the formation of the nation, in order to generate patriotism. Anderson identified the significant role that the media play in creating and preserving these ‘imagined communities’, by addressing newspaper readers as a collective public, and through the sense of kinship that is produced by the knowledge that across the nation, people are ritualistically reading the same newspaper. Loto et al, who studied the New Zealand news representation of Pacific islanders as a minority group, claimed “today, experiences of oneself as citizen, consumer or community member are often mediated and framed in relation to outcast or deviant groups” (2006: 101). Thus, developing nations may be negatively framed to reinforce boundaries between ‘us’ and ‘them’. Billig’s notion of Banal Nationalism (1995) drew on Anderson’s theory, exploring the ideological habits which reproduce nationhood in the West. Billig similarly identified nationhood as structuring newspapers, which regularly echo the nationalistic clichés spoken by politicians, and address readers as members of the nation. Such regular “flagging” breeds the perception that ‘we’ are the normality against which ‘their’ deviations may be measured (see also Hall 1997; Loto et al 2006). The reinforcement of this ideology makes existing social patterns appear natural, so it is not questioned why certain countries don’t appear in the news, as they have been deemed ‘irrelevant’ to ‘us’. Thus “we, the readers, readily accept the deixis of homeland, and the apartheid of news into ‘home’ and foreign” (Billig 1995: 126). This creation of the ‘other’ means that stereotypes are more easily reproduced, leading to a distorted portrayal of foreign nations. Galtung and Ruge’s (1965) theory that foreign news is distorted has been corroborated. Masmoudi’s (1984) summary of debates led by UNESCO revealed that developing countries maintained that news flow across borders is imbalanced and information presented in the Western news about the developing world is insufficient and distorted. National identity is connected to both the volume of international coverage, and the nature and representation of other nations within such coverage, as it creates an ‘other’, who is then subject to a specific process of selectivity to fit archetypal portrayals. Having explored the values identified by academics that lead to an “insufficient” volume of news coverage, it is
  • 15. 8 important to now turn to the “distortion” element, by exploring scholarly study on the nature of coverage regarding developing countries. 1.4 Bad Things Happen in Bad Places: Western News Representation of ‘the Rest’ Several scholars have studied the tone of Western coverage concerning the developing world, predominantly concluding that developing nations tend to appear in the context of conflict and unrest, portraying a widely negative perspective (Lent 1977; Chang 1998; Franks 2004; Golan 2008; Beer 2010). Franks (2004: 427) was concerned by the move away from factual programming on developing countries, citing a project commissioned by The Department for International Development (2000), which found a high proportion of television broadcasting of such nations “related to conflict, famine, terrorism and disaster”: an oft reached conclusion of studies into international news reporting. Cushion (2012: 63) summarised that the primary tool of news selection identified by scholars has been “if it bleeds, it leads”. Africa in particular has provided a focal point for such studies, consistently found to be negatively presented in Western media (Chang 1998; Beaudoin and Thorson 2001; Golan 2008; Beer 2010). Beaudoin and Thorson’s (2001: 481) analysis of foreign news in American newspapers found that Africa was depicted as a region “consumed with power issues”, in contrast to depictions of Western Europe as “beautiful”. Golan (2008) identified Africa as suffering under the ‘bad news syndrome’, consistently portrayed negatively with a focus on deviant issues, while Beer (2010) examined the Afro-pessimism image of the ‘dark continent’ in international news. Golan (2008) found that Africa received little coverage, despite various newsworthy events that occurred during the sample period. Conversely, Beer (2010) discovered Africa was actually not that absent from the Western news agenda, and more visible than a number of other continents. Regardless of contradictory findings on the amount of coverage, there has been broad agreement among scholars that “coups, earthquakes, civil unrest, and other social disturbances are often the staple of news in the West about the rest” (Chang 1998: 535). Loto et al (2006) looked at the representation of Pacific Islanders in New Zealand print media over a three month period. They were critical of the media in their finding that Pacific people are predominantly presented as “unmotivated, unhealthy and criminal others” (ibid: 100). Loto et al held that whose views are privileged and whose are curbed in news reports is a reflection of the wider power relations in society. They identified that news is framed
  • 16. 9 through the prejudices of majority groups, and “talks to the expectations and assumptions of some groups more than others” (ibid: 104). The pivotal point recognised in the study was that the positive achievements of minority groups were overlooked or downplayed, while coverage focused on their ‘problems’ (ibid: 115). Loto et al’s (2006) study examined the representation of Pacific Islanders, so has cultural resonance with the current study of Papua New Guinea. However, it was in the context of Pacific people being segregated as a minority group in New Zealand, so does not reflect the international scope of the present research. The study nonetheless bore similar results to wider scholarly research on Western representation of developing nations, and the assertion that “academic considerations of Pacific people are virtually non-existent” (ibid: 102) seems accurate. One of few studies to consider the Pacific region, Papua New Guinea in particular, was Kariel and Rosenvall’s (1984) study of Canadian daily newspapers. This put into practice four factors of political, economic, physical and psychological determinants, examining their effect on international news flow. They found that the accuracy of the variables fluctuated across different nations. Papua New Guinea, for example, received more coverage than expected in terms of their lack of trade and elite status. However, this coverage was consistent with the predictors of population and GDP. While the study yielded some interesting results, it is dated, and few recent studies seem to have extended their radar to encompass the nation. One may question why nations like Papua New Guinea are relevant, both to academics as an object of study and to the public as a source of news; a question that editors themselves seem to ponder. Hoge (1997: 49) cited Mortimer Zuckerman, editor in chief of U.S. News: “There is a diminution of coverage, simply because the issues are less relevant”. The ensuing section aims to summarise the reasons provided by academics for reporting news beyond national borders, incorporating the emergent notion of ‘globalisation’. 1.5 Censored Democracy: What Future for International News? Cushion purported that “what is selected as “news” and how it is constructed in journalism are, in short, critical to informed citizenship” (2012: 59). In his essay ‘Foreign News: Who gives a damn?’ Hoge (1997) wrote of the decrease in international reporting, citing interviews
  • 17. 10 with editors and surveys which documented the decline. Hoge expressed that in democratic society, the purpose of sustaining such coverage is to keep the public prepared. Thus, the blame is placed on media proprietors for failing “to make news of the wider world interesting and relevant”, and fulfil their role of informing citizens (ibid: 52). This viewpoint was endorsed by Cushion: “access to coverage of the notable issues of our age […] remains relevant to all, irrespective of specialist interests or entertainment value” (2012: 59). Despite the power the media hold in influencing public perception (Wu 2003; Franks 2004; Golan 2008; Cushion 2012) and foreign policy (Beer 2010; Golan 2008), time and space constraints mean that media gatekeepers cannot deliver equal coverage of all nations in the world. Beer (2010) found that over a one-year period, Oceania received the least coverage of all continents, totalling just 220 reports (1.5 per cent of coverage) across UK, US and German television news; thus Papua New Guinea’s prospects look grim. Media gatekeepers seem to overlook the important role they play in the welfare and internal progress of other nations (Chang 1998). Franks (2004) stressed the importance of programming outside of the news to give a more balanced view of a country, lamenting that these negative images of “gloom and disaster” (ibid: 427) were the dominant impression audiences abstracted of the developing world. The arrival of the internet has been heralded as part of the move towards a global identity, bearing the potential to break down barriers. Many academics have written of the effect of ‘globalisation’ on international news flow and the rise of global journalism (Chang 1998; Berglez 2008; Beer 2010). Wu stipulated: New procedures to improve information flow and international understanding should be advanced because the advent of the global village will make complicated international issues more pressing (2000: 128). The aforementioned studies have acknowledged that despite media content becoming more “deterritorialized”, global journalism is still a minority, and the formation of a global identity to replace national identities seems a distant goal. Hoge (1997: 49) seemed pessimistic as to the progress of this notion, citing findings by The International Institute of Communications, which revealed the globalisation of news to be “more myth than reality in most parts of the world”. Hoge did, however, claim that West European television channels and quality
  • 18. 11 newspapers remain “more internationally minded than U.S. media” (ibid), despite limited coverage from certain regions. The current study may go part of the way to deciphering whether this remains true sixteen years on. Having reviewed the importance of international news coverage and explored academic research into the presence of developing nations in the Western media, the current study is situated as a contemporary investigation into the coverage of a relatively unexplored nation. The subsequent section summarises the key points identified in existing literature, stating how these have fed into the framework of this research. 1.6 Conclusion A review of the numerous studies of news values establishes expectations of the volume and tone of coverage that Papua New Guinea may receive in the British news. National identity may be perceived as widening the gap between ‘local’ and ‘foreign’, with newspapers allegedly playing a role in reinforcing the stereotyped ‘other’. The discrepancy between the ‘real world’ and the ‘news world’ has been widely acknowledged (Chang 1998; Wu 2000, 2003, 2007). This focus on deviant issues and tragedies is unlikely to reflect the daily reality in these nations, but perhaps acts to reinforce the power of national identity in allowing these prejudiced stories and stereotypes to enter the public sphere, for the most part unchallenged. The majority of studies mentioned above employed content analyses, the results of which were then taken to be ‘representative’, however, how universally applicable these results are depends on various factors. For example, much of the existing research has studied the US media, since it is the global giant “placed in the brightest spotlight on the stage of the news world” (Wu 2000: 126). Yet, such findings cannot be generalised as representative of Western coverage on the whole. Tunstall (1992) observed that following the US, Europe has become a world news leader. Hence a study of UK news media coverage of a nation may yield some interesting results. The following chapter details the research questions and methods utilised to conduct research into British news coverage of Papua New Guinea.
  • 19. 12 2. Methodology 2.1 Introduction Numerous academics have argued the importance of Western media conveying a more objective “window on the world”. However, whether this has materialised remains to be seen. In order to examine the volume and nature of coverage of Papua New Guinea in the British news, a content analysis was carried out on the national newspapers of the UK, as well as the BBC online, over a sample period of 14 months, from January 2012 to February 2013. The following research questions were investigated: 1. What is the volume of coverage of Papua New Guinea in the British national newspapers and the BBC online between January 2012 and February 2013? 2. What image of Papua New Guinea is portrayed in the British national newspapers and the BBC online? 3. Is there any difference in coverage of Papua New Guinea between broadsheet, mid-market and tabloid newspapers? 4. Is there any difference in coverage of Papua New Guinea between the public service BBC and national newspapers? 2.2 Research Design Content analysis enables researchers “to quantify salient and manifest features of a large number of texts, and the statistics are used to make broader inferences about the processes and politics of representation” (Deacon et al. 2007: 119). In this sense, it also facilitates the identification of patterns: here applicable in discerning the prominent themes of stories about Papua New Guinea, and representation of the nation and its people in the British media. As a directive method, content analysis gives firm answers to questions posed regarding quantity, allowing interpretation of a mass of texts to generate a “big picture” (ibid: 119) of the nation as drawn in the British news. Quantitative approaches have dominated research in the field of news values; however Cushion identified “a quantitative approach can only tell part of the story […] it provides more breadth than depth” (2012: 60). Accordingly, this study utilised a quantitative approach to grasp the volume of news produced on Papua New Guinea and identify patterns of
  • 20. 13 representation, incorporating elements of qualitative analysis to examine the image that is portrayed, and how this differed across newspapers and the BBC’s online news. In order to obtain a representative image of the British media, all national newspapers were included in the research. The BBC online was also studied to establish whether there is a notable difference in the coverage of Papua New Guinea between the two mediums in how they serve national interests, particularly since as a public service broadcaster, the BBC has a commitment to impartiality and serving the public interest3 . The BBC also has an obligation to cover international affairs, adhering to its mission statement aim of ‘bringing the UK to the world and the world to the UK’4 . The BBC is one of the world’s leading public service broadcasters5 , and the UK’s leading online news provider (Cushion 2012: 40), so it was on this rationale that it was chosen. Nexis was used to conduct a search of all national newspapers. Major mentions of ‘Papua New Guinea’ were entered as the search criteria. Only stories which focused primarily on the nation of Papua New Guinea were selected. Thus, articles which mentioned Papua New Guinea but focused on another nation were omitted, as were other UK and regional editions of newspapers. On the BBC website, ‘Papua New Guinea’ was entered into the search bar, and stories were selected on the same criteria, and omitted if they were video reports or ‘in pictures’ articles. All articles were recorded into SPSS. A total of 114 stories composed the data set. For the purposes of this research, Liam Fox, Papua New Guinea correspondent for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), agreed to an interview. The rationale for carrying out the interview was to gain an insight from someone who knows the country well. As an online and television journalist who has been covering the country for four years, Fox’s views were valuable to the current study. Although it is not a representative sample to generalise to journalistic practices on the whole, it offers a local reporter’s perspective. The interview was conducted via Skype, and Fox was asked to comment on findings and give his 3 BBC. 2013. The BBC’s Editorial Values [Online]. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/guidelines/editorialguidelines/page/guidelines-editorial-values-editorial-values/ [Accessed: 20th April 2013] 4 BBC. 2013. Public Purposes [Online]. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/whoweare/publicpurposes/ [Accessed: 28th March 2013] 5 BBC. 2013. Who We Are: At a Glance [Online]. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/whoweare/ataglance/ [Accessed: 28th March 2013]
  • 21. 14 opinion on coverage of the nation (see Appendix C for interview transcript). The outcomes of this interview will be discussed in the concluding chapter of this dissertation. 2.3 Code Frame and Sample The sample period ran from January 2012 to February 2013, and was chosen since it was the most recent time frame to study. The time frame was extended to cover 14 months as it encompassed some noteworthy events (see introduction), deemed newsworthy in accordance with the ‘bad news’ value frequently identified in studies. This also generated a manageable sample, appropriate to an undergraduate dissertation. Content analysis is not without its weaknesses, but these can be reduced by the inclusion of clear cut operational definitions. With the intention of moderating subjective responses and ensuring intercoder reliability, 10 per cent of the overall news sample was coded by a second coder. A 0.810 value of kappa was derived using Cohen’s (1960) kappa method, and conflicting responses were re-evaluated to determine which interpretation was most applicable. Where changes were made, all similar stories were re-coded to ensure the classifying of news articles was consistent and the legitimacy of the analysis remained intact. Articles were coded for the identifiable theme of the story; context of the story; negative and positive attributes of Papua New Guinean people; representation of the nation; and explicit ratings (see Appendix A for full coding sheet). Eighteen options were listed in the ‘themes’ category having been extensively piloted. The ‘attributes’ of inhabitants and ‘representation of the nation’ were each coded into eleven categories. Examples of articles that were consigned to these different categories will be presented in the findings chapter. In order to avoid forced responses, a ‘not possible to say’ option was also incorporated (see Appendix B for codebook of operational definitions). To interpret the overall image of the country portrayed, the tone of coverage was calculated using Beer’s criteria. Beer (2010) aimed to interrogate assumptions about Africa’s status in the global news flow, studying television coverage of the continent in three world regions. Beer identified the context (content embedded in positive or negative context) and explicit ratings (journalists use or citing of words of clearly positive or negative judgement) of individual reports. This method was applied to examine news articles in the current study. Many of the primary themes identified in stories were self-explanatory; for example, stories
  • 22. 15 categorised as concerning corruption, murder or tragedy would be grouped as ‘negative’ in context. Classifying explicit ratings entailed looking at sentences in more detail, identifying the connotations of words used to determine if they were explicitly negative (e.g. “brutal slaying”) or emotive (e.g. “utter devastation”). The use of sources was also studied, to establish who was cited and what quotes were selected. A mean was then calculated as a combination of context and explicit ratings in order to obtain an overall tone of coverage score. 2.4 Limitations The current study has some limitations that ought to be addressed. Due to time constraints, only one Pacific nation was able to be studied, and for a period of 14 months. A larger sample would be more representative, allowing researchers to generate more reliable conclusions. Additionally, conducting interviews with a number of journalists may offer a more representative viewpoint, since in the current study only one reporter’s perspective was obtained. Future studies could look at other Pacific nations to see how developing countries in Oceania are portrayed in the news. Researching news coverage of Pacific countries in other nations (for example the US or other European countries) may aid in better explaining the representation of the region in Western news. A comparative study perhaps looking at local reporting in comparison to international coverage of a nation may provide further insight to how local news interprets events compared to how these are relayed through the international media. Other mediums could also be studied, for example television broadcasts, or a wider range of online news forums. A study of news agencies could yield interesting results, since these are the sources that publications draw on for most of their information about the world. Thus, the explanation for which countries get coverage and what events make the news may lie primarily with these wire agencies. 2.5 Conclusion Combining content analysis and close textual analysis, this study aims to provide an insight into the way that British media portrays a distant developing nation. The outcomes of the interview with Papua New Guinea correspondent, Liam Fox, will be introduced in the
  • 23. 16 conclusion to enter into debates about newsroom values and how these affect the volume and tone of international news. The following chapter recounts the findings of the study, looking at the themes, character traits of inhabitants, and representation of Papua New Guinea that is palpable in news coverage. The distinctions between broadsheet, mid-market, tabloid and public service will also be discussed in relation to their coverage of the nation.
  • 24. 17 3. Findings 3.1 Introduction Across the 23 news outlets studied over the 14-month period, a total of 114 articles on Papua New Guinea were found. Stories selected were mainly negative, and aside from the much heralded royal visit, focused on crises and deviant events concerning mutiny, cannibalism and murder. The following chapter conveys the findings of the analysis. Prominent themes will be explored and character traits associated with Papua New Guineans will be determined. The representation of the country will be investigated, and disparities between media types will be identified. Some of the most apparent themes will be studied in more detail, including the royal visit, politics, murder and crises. 3.2 Topics, Traits, and Damaging Depictions In order to understand the image of Papua New Guinea that is portrayed in the British news, articles were coded to identify the primary themes of stories, character traits of inhabitants, and the representation of the nation. Firstly, the themes shall be explored (see table 1 for primary themes established by media type). The topics ranged from the discovery of a new species in the “hotspot of biodiversity” (Financial Times, 21.01.12), to the arrest of members of a cannibal cult. The results indicate that editors, for the most part, selected the royal visit in November 2012 (21 stories). This was followed by natural resources (14 stories), primarily appearing in the business pages describing mining shares. Politics was third most common (12 stories), followed by murder (11 stories), to cover the sorcery killing in February 2013. Beyond these, tragedy featured highly, accounting for the passenger ferry that sank in February 2012, while the failed mutiny of January 2012 received similar coverage (9 stories each). Seven of the categories identified are overtly negative in nature: murder; tragedy; mutiny; cannibalism; natural disaster; corruption; and social unrest. These alone composed 35 per cent of the data set. The findings indicate that the BBC online published the most articles on the nation over the sample period, totalling 28, perhaps due to the abundance of online space, as opposed to the limited pages of newspapers. This was followed by The Daily Telegraph with 20 articles and The Times with 14. Beyond these, none of the other newspapers published in excess of 6 articles on the nation; an average of one every two months. Broadsheets covered the widest range of topics, followed by the BBC, although the public service agenda was notably more
  • 25. 18 political, perhaps reflecting their commitment to hard news. Mid-markets published the least articles, yet they tended to adopt a more balanced approach to news selection. In contrast, the limited framework of tabloids, “notorious for their sensational, often salacious content” (McNair 2009: 5), was confined to the royal visit, murder, sport, cannibalism and tragedy. A distinction between what Sparks (2000: 14-15) termed the “semiserious”, the “serious- popular”, and the “newsstand tabloid” was thus evident from the outset, with broadsheets extending their reach to cover the distant nation more so than other print publications. Beer’s (2010: 3) study of international news flow identified an Afro-pessimism news flow “code book”, in which issues such as ‘famine’ and ‘disputed elections’ are grouped together to fit the ‘basket case’ image of the African continent. It appears in the current study, a 6 Data was rounded up so may not add up to 100 per cent Theme Broadsheet Mid-market Tabloid Public Service Total Royal visit 8 5 6 2 21 (18.4%) Natural resources 10 4 - - 14 (12.3%) Politics 1 - - 11 12 (10.5%) Murder 3 1 5 2 11 (9.6%) Tragedy 3 - 3 3 9 (7.9%) Mutiny 3 - - 6 9 (7.9%) Cannibalism 4 - 3 - 7 (6.1%) Sport 3 - 4 - 7 (6.1%) Travel story 5 1 - - 6 (5.3%) New species discovery 3 2 - 1 6 (5.3%) Marriage 2 - - 1 3 (2.6%) Scientific study 2 - - - 2 (1.8%) Natural disaster 1 - - 1 2 (1.8%) International relations 1 - - - 1 (0.9%) Environment 1 - - - 1 (0.9%) Crime and retribution 1 - - - 1 (0.9%) Corruption - - - 1 1 (0.9%) Social unrest 1 - - - 1 (0.9%) Total 52 13 21 28 114 (100%)6 Table 1. Primary themes by media type
  • 26. 19 0 5 10 15 20 25 Percentageofsample Character trait Mid-market Tabloid Public service Broadsheet Papua New Guinean, or perhaps Pacific island “code book” may feature the latter, also comprising issues such as ‘cannibalism’ and ‘tragedy’. With the intention of understanding the characterisation of Papua New Guinea, eleven coding categories were developed to classify attributes associated with Papuan people (n=101). This enabled an evaluation of the extent to which negative characterisations were emphasised across news items (see figure 1 for percentages of attributes found). Overall, 61.4 per cent of attributes identified fell into negative categories. Violent and brutish was the most common (23.7 per cent), evident in stories describing the cannibal cult, and the “mob” who “tortured and bound” a young woman accused of witchcraft (i, 9.02.13). Tabloids stood out as disseminating these negative portrayals, perhaps due to their news agenda prioritising the bizarre. Broadsheets similarly published the most articles in this category, followed by the traits of welcoming and friendly, apparent in articles on the royal visit. Hence, there appears to be some correlation between broadsheets and tabloids in the features carried. However, broadsheets covered an array of topics, Figure 1. Attributes associated with Papua New Guinean people in news articles
  • 27. 20 presenting a wider range of interpretations of the people, including attributes such as exotic and compassionate, which did not appear in other media outlets. The trait of welcoming and friendly drew equally with the trait of uncooperative (20.8 per cent), which appeared primarily in articles on the BBC online. However, this may be expected given their focus on political issues, which largely revolved around the feud between Somare and O’Neill, portraying the political leaders as oppositional. The primitive and tribal categorisation was evident in an article about the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association plan to visit Papua New Guinea to discuss “women in politics, gender equality and domestic violence, health, education and development” (The Sunday Times, 2.12.12), implying the local parliamentarians require Western intervention to progress on such matters. Positive attributes accounted for 38.6 per cent of characteristics identified. The category that McNair (2009: 5) termed “mid-market tabloids” principally presented the nation positively, as welcoming and friendly, deviating from the alleged ‘tabloidization’ of the British press which shifts focus to entertainment and the sensational. Broadsheets and the public service broadcaster primarily depicted negative character traits, while positive traits outweighed negative in mid-markets and, perhaps surprisingly, tabloids. Despite these positive depictions, the portrayal of inhabitants of the nation seems to tally with the prominent themes identified, in that the highest ranking traits are negative. The overall representation of Papua New Guinea was also coded into eleven categories (see table 2 for relative percentages of each grouping). 59.7 per cent of articles fell into negative categories, the most common of which was violent and dangerous (17.5 per cent), associated with stories about the cannibal cult and sorcery murder. This was followed by politically unstable (15.8 per cent), evident in a number of articles on the power tussle and mutiny. Exotic and unexplored was third most prominent (14 per cent), accounted for mainly by travel stories describing the “spiky mountain ranges and impenetrable green forests” (The Times, 21.02.13). Reliant or in need of aid closely followed (13.2 per cent), emerging in stories on natural disasters and tragedies, which largely presented the nation as dependent on neighbouring Australia to provide aid in times of crises. Most articles on the royal visit presented Papua New Guinea as welcoming, and were coded accordingly. Other stories focused on the primitive and tribal culture, describing the “Mud
  • 28. 21 Men from the Asaro tribe” (The Express, 5.11.12), and a marriage ceremony “in which the bride’s worth is measured in pigs” (The Times, 25.02.12). At the negative end of the spectrum, stories such as ‘Papua New Guinea’s top judge charged with obstruction’ (BBC, 6.03.12) framed the nation as corrupt and lawless. With 40.4 per cent of articles falling into positive categories, the ratio of positive to negative is greater than that of character traits. However, while the nation’s natural beauty does appear fairly high on the list, the overall image portrayed is not a positive one. Mid-markets devoted a considerable amount of their coverage to positive portrayals (84.6 per cent). In all other media types, negative representations outweighed the positive. Surprisingly, the BBC carried the highest percentage of negative news (85.7 per cent). However, it is worth noting that this was mainly due to the volume of political coverage they presented, the context of which was manifestly unfavourable. Having explored the themes of stories, attributes of Papuan people, and representation of the nation, it is apparent that in each of these categories, negative groupings outweigh the positive. The issues explored thus far focus on the context of articles; however this cannot 7 Data was rounded up so may not add up to 100 per cent Representation Broadsheet Midmarket Tabloid Public service Total Exotic, unexplored and beautiful 7 4 3 2 16 (14%) Welcoming 6 3 3 2 14 (12.3%) Resourceful for mining 9 4 - - 13 (11.4%) Sporty - - 2 - 2 (1.8%) Spiritual 1 - - - 1 (0.9%) Total positive 23 (44.2%) 11 (84.6%) 8 (38.1%) 4 (14.3%) 46 (40.4%) Violent and dangerous 9 1 8 2 20 (17.5%) Politically unstable 4 - - 14 18 (15.8%) Reliant or in need of aid 7 - 4 4 15 (13.2%) Primitive and tribal 7 1 - - 8 (7%) Corrupt and Lawless 1 - 1 4 6 (5.3%) Unwelcoming 1 - - - 1 (0.9%) Total negative 29 (55.8%) 2 (15.4%) 13 (61.9%) 24 (85.7%) 68 (59.7%)7 Table 2. Primary representation of Papua New Guinea
  • 29. 22 0% 10% 20% 30% 40% 50% 60% 70% 80% 90% 100% Overall tone of coverage Explicit ratings Context Percentage of data sample Rating Positive Negative Neutral convey a representative image of the British news’ portrayal of the nation. Therefore, the next section explores the tone of coverage, detailing how this varied across news outlets. 3.3 Tone of Coverage: Neutralising the Negative To better facilitate understanding of the balance between positive and negative coverage, the tone of news was calculated. Context and explicit ratings were noted as positive, negative or neutral, and the tone was then derived as the average of these ratings (see figure 2). Beer (2010) found Oceania received more positive coverage (30.5 per cent) than negative (21.4 per cent) over a twelve-month period in UK, US and German television news. The current study found 34.2 per cent of stories on Papua New Guinea were negative, with just 17.1 per cent conveying a positive tone. Interestingly, the remaining 48.7 per cent were deemed neutral, almost mirroring Beer’s finding that 48.2 per cent of television reports carried a neutral tone. Thus, the relative percentages of positive and negative coverage appear inverted in the current study. Beer’s study of Oceania clearly took into account all fourteen countries of the continent, and looked at a wider range of Western news outlets. However, the results of the current research would suggest that the inclusion of developed countries such as Australia and New Zealand may increase the volume of positive coverage, whereas continents like South America and Africa are host to a collection of nations of a similar developmental level. Figure 2. Tone of coverage of Papua New Guinea
  • 30. 23 It is important to note that not all the stories were placed in a negative framework. The 17.1 per cent that were deemed positive covered a variety of topics, ranging from marriage and the exotic culture, to travel in “one of the last true untouched frontiers” (The Times, 21.02.13). Loto et al identified that in their study of the representation of Pacific islanders in the New Zealand press, while representations were not always unequivocally negative, “positive cases can function merely to reinforce the perception that Pacific people have only themselves to blame for not measuring up or taking advantage of their opportunities” (2006: 115). Yet it remains open as to whether readers share this interpretation. Additionally, to decipher variations between media outlets, the tone of coverage as evident across media types was calculated (see table 3). Tabloid newspapers carried the most negative tone (50 per cent) and the smallest percentage of positive stories across all media types (4.8 per cent). Despite publishing the least stories on the nation, mid-market papers were predominantly neutral, with only 7.7 per cent of articles published deemed negative in tone. While focusing less on politics, broadsheet papers did cover a wide array of topics, and for the most part carried a neutral tone (48.1 per cent) consistent with the BBC’s value of impartiality. Although 68 per cent of articles on the BBC were negative in context, the manner in which these were communicated balanced it out, bringing the overall tone of coverage to predominantly neutral (48.2 per cent). Thus, a sharp distinction was manifest between the media types. The findings indicate that the themes, character traits, representation of the nation, and tone of coverage were principally negative. While the BBC, broadsheet and mid-market newspapers presented a largely neutral account, tabloids played up the negativity of news stories. The following section presents more in depth findings on the themes established in Media type Positive Neutral Negative Broadsheet 19.2% 48.1% 32.7% Mid-market 34.6% 57.7% 7.7% Tabloid 4.8% 45.2% 50% Public service 14.3% 48.2% 37.5% Table 3. Tone of coverage by media type Media type Positive Neutral Negative Broadsheet 19.2% 48.1% 32.7% Mid-market 34.6% 57.7% 7.7% Tabloid 4.8% 45.2% 50% Public service 14.3% 48.2% 37.5% Table 3. Tone of coverage by media type
  • 31. 24 the study, including the royal visit, politics, murder and crises. The variations between news providers in their coverage and portrayals of the nation will also be brought into sharper focus. 3.4 Commonwealth Ties: The Royal Visit Charles and Camilla’s jubilee tour featured highly on the news agenda (see table 1), presumably as the monarchy is an integral element of British society. Accounting for almost a fifth of all coverage, the royal visit was the most prominent theme, covered by fourteen of the twenty-three titles examined. Overall, 43 per cent of the articles on the royal visit carried a positive tone, and 50 per cent presented a neutral account, so only a minority were condescending of the culture. Articles on the royal visit were coded into five categories to interpret the representation of the country (see table 4). Welcoming was the most prominent of these categories (52.4 per cent), evident in articles referring to the “well-wishers” (Mail on Sunday, 4.11.12) who attended the “welcoming ceremony” (The Daily Telegraph, 5.11.12) and “warmly cheered” (The Express, 5.11.12) the royals. However, two articles published in The Times took a different approach. One article, which described the royals’ welcome tour of the sports stadium “riding around in a Bedford van sitting on a dining room chair” (The Times, 5.11.12), was coded as depicting the nation as primitive, unable to properly cater for a royal visit. A second article classified as presenting the country as tribal compared the dancers in leaf headdresses to “rather energetic dancing 8 Data was rounded up so may not add up to 100 per cent Primary representation Frequency Welcoming 11 (52.4%) Exotic 5 (23.8%) Primitive 3 (14.3%) Tribal 1 (4.8%) Unwelcoming 1 (4.8%)8 Table 4. Primary representation of Papua New Guinea in articles on the royal visit Table 3. Primary representation of Papua New Guinea in articles on the royal visit
  • 32. 25 bushes”, expressing a dismissal of the culture through derogatory depictions of local customs. The same article stated on royal duty: On occasion it involves warriors waving spears in one’s face and half-naked men smeared in mud prancing with a vaguely menacing air. It also involves topless young women dancing as an accompaniment to just about everything the royal couple did […] Above all, the day was a chance for the local population to look as frightening as possibly [sic] in the presence of their royal guests, all in the name of traditional cultural values (The Times, 5.11.12). Despite appearing in the news section, the article offers a partisan interpretation of events, turning the welcoming reception that the royal couple received into a threatening display of tribal culture. The deprecating way in which these “traditional cultural values” are described repudiates the nation’s history and ethos in a nigh on imperialist manner. The BBC articles adopted a more fair-minded stance than other papers, relaying the itinerary of the visit, which included being shown “crafts, canoe building […] local painting, weaving and pottery”, as well as touring an aid project “concerned with the replanting of coastal mangroves” (4.11.12). These descriptions present a self-sufficient culture, concerned with the environment and unaffected by the Western lifestyle. The exotic nature of inhabitants was depicted in articles describing the 15-year-old local girl who was chosen to place orchid flowers on the royal’s shoulders. The BBC illustrated her outfit of a “pandanas leaf skirt, body paint and a headdress made of bird of paradise feathers” (3.11.12). However, the majority of articles in other papers took her state of undress as the focal point of the story, carrying headlines such as ‘ROYAL TOUR ISLANDERS’ TOPLESS WELCOME’ (The Sunday Telegraph, 4.11.12) and ‘HEIR MEETS A PAIR’ (The Sun, 4.11.12), depicting the “boob-baring local” (Daily Star Sunday, 4.11.12) as an embodiment of ‘otherness’. All articles in the sample were coded for primary, secondary, and tertiary themes where applicable, since many of the categories coincided. The royal visit was identified as a secondary theme in two tabloid articles about cannibalism. One referred to the task the couple were to face in “dodging the cannibals of Papua New Guinea”, advising them to “decline any offer of a finger buffet” (Daily Star Sunday, 2.09.12). Another carried the bold
  • 33. 26 headline ‘Q. What’s cooking tonight? A. You are, your Highness; CANNIBAL ISLE FOR CHARLES’. The article begins: Charles and Camilla are to brave 1,000 cannibals on their Diamond Jubilee tour next month. They will visit the remote South Pacific island of Papua New Guinea where cannibals make soup from genitals and eat human brains raw. Some travellers fear to even step foot on the island because they are so scared (Daily Star Sunday, 2.09.12). The article adopts a sweeping stereotype of the nation, and is a contrast to the majority of news coverage on their visit describing the warm welcome the couple received. The distinction between tabloid and broadsheet newspapers was somewhat blurred, with some broadsheet reports adopting a crude approach to the culture, classically characteristic of tabloids. The BBC stood out as depicting the vibrant culture in a positive manner. While the nation was largely portrayed as welcoming and friendly, this is an event-oriented variable, and had it not occurred during the sample period, the nation would likely have been cast in a far more negative light. 3.5 Papuan Politics: Mutiny and Corruption? Politics was a fairly prominent theme (12 stories). However, all bar one of the articles on politics was published on the BBC, perhaps drawing a distinction between the news values of public service and commercial publications. Over 60 per cent of the articles published by the BBC were on political issues and the mutiny to overthrow Peter O’Neill and have Sir Michael Somare reinstated as Prime Minister. In contrast, none of the mid-market or tabloid titles surveyed included articles on the election or political instability of the nation. The Daily Telegraph included one article on the election. However, it was only 60 words long, compared to the average length of 300 words for BBC articles on politics. This finding indicates a more serious agenda of news on the public service BBC, reflecting one of its six public purposes: ‘sustaining citizenship and civil society’9 . Despite being “the most editorially committed to the coverage of politics” of the press (McNair 2000: 16), it would appear broadsheet coverage of political issues did not extend to the nation, perhaps confined to the politics of the Western superpowers. 9 BBC. 2013. Public Purposes [Online]. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/whoweare/publicpurposes/ [Accessed: 28th March 2013]
  • 34. 27 Golan and Wanta (2003) argued that the presence of conflict in a region is a significant predictor of coverage of elections by US network newscasts. While the arrest of a cannibal cult in the northern town of Madang received mention in a number of papers, few of these stated the role this event played in postponing the election. The BBC, however, did not report the cannibal incident, instead featuring a number of articles on the election. The BBC’s claim to ‘build a global understanding of international issues and broaden UK audiences’ experience of different cultures’10 appears to entail minimising output of bad news that may reproduce stereotypes, revealing a more serious and impartial news agenda. Political articles covered the power struggle between the “rival prime ministers” (BBC, 26.01.12); the top judge “charged with obstructing a police investigation into his management of the court” (BBC, 6.03.12); and the “chaotic start” to the elections (BBC, 24.06.12). None of the political articles were recognised as positive, yet taking into account context and explicit ratings, 62.5 per cent of the stories were neutral, with the remaining 37.5 per cent falling into the negative category. This implies that despite the negative context of many of the political articles, they were fairly objectively written, perhaps due to the BBC’s commitment to impartiality. Similarly, while the context of articles on the coup in January 2012 was negative, all reports were fairly neutral in their relaying of the story, somewhat balancing out the negative background of the event. One BBC article titled ‘Australia ‘concerned’ by PNG election delay’ (6.04.12) presents the nations former coloniser as tied to it, ‘concerned’ it is not abiding by the rules laid out upon its independence. Australia’s Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, is quoted as “disappointed and concerned” at the delay. However, the article balances this by quoting Papua New Guinea’s Deputy Prime Minister as saying “You must respect our wishes. You must not intrude into our election process”. While political instability appeared a recurring theme in these articles (see table 4), the BBC, unlike many other papers, often quoted Papua New Guinea officials as well as Australian political leaders, allowing the nation a voice of its own. The attributes associated with Papua New Guinea people which were derived from political articles were corrupt (27.3 per cent) and uncooperative (72.7 per cent), while the primary representation of the nation was politically unstable (75 per cent). This was followed by 10 BBC. 2013. Public Purposes [Online]. Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/aboutthebbc/insidethebbc/whoweare/publicpurposes/ [Accessed: 28th March 2013]
  • 35. 28 27.3% 9.1% 45.5% 18.2% 0% 5% 10% 15% 20% 25% 30% 35% 40% 45% 50% Broadsheet Midmarket Tabloid Public service corrupt (16.7 per cent) and lawless (8.3 per cent). Hence, despite the relatively neutral reporting of political events in Papua New Guinea, the nation’s political landscape was nonetheless cast in a negative light, and broadly overlooked by all national newspapers. 3.6 Murder, Magic and Mayhem Composing just under 10 per cent of coverage, murder appeared fourth most prominent. Along with the royal visit, murder was the only theme to appear across all four media types (see figure 3). All eleven articles placed in this category relayed the story of a young mother who was accused of sorcery and burnt alive in Mount Hagen before a crowd. The tabloid papers were most preoccupied with this topic as newsworthy; however some presented a more neutral account than others. While the description of the crime is undeniably gruesome, some articles balanced this by including quotes such as “the killing has caused outrage across Papua New Guinea” (Daily Star, 19.02.13). Meanwhile, others carried headlines such as ‘WITCH HORROR’ (The Sun, 19.02.13) and ‘Black magic woman dead; TORTURE’ (Daily Mirror, 8.02.13). A short article in The Daily Telegraph used only one quote from a police spokesperson, to state they believed the girl had been “gang raped and killed by two known suspects” (15.02.13), compared to an article in the i paper which used the more subdued quote to state an estimated 50 people were thought to have “laid a hand on Figure 3. Percentage of murder stories published across media outlets
  • 36. 29 the victim” (9.02.13). Considering political issues were essentially overlooked by the commercial papers, this event was perceptibly amplified in the British press. Many studies have “concluded that newspaper accounts of foreign affairs are colored by philosophic, moral, and political perspectives prevailing in the nations where the newspaper is published” (Lent 1977: 47). This is a possible explanation for why such events are magnified, presented with the graphic headlines as mentioned above. The BBC also covered the story, presenting a much more nuanced version. Prime Minister Peter O’Neill was quoted, calling the case “barbaric”, and a police commander was cited saying “we are not finished” (BBC, 19.02.13). The article presents the issue as being taken seriously, with national leaders condemning the incident and police stated as having interviewed forty people in connection with the crime. Many articles in commercial papers seemed to downplay the action being taken, instead highlighting the brutality of the crime. Thus, the public service news provider was more objective, and concerned with presenting a bigger picture to avoid negative stereotyping and balance the patent horror of the story. Australia’s public service broadcaster, ABC, cited Ken Fairweather, the current MP for Sumkar, near Bogia as saying on the case: You’ll find any area where there is lots of malaria, lots of mosquitoes, you’ll also have this propensity to have puripuri if you like or whatever you want to call it, that’s associated with sickness, hallucination (ABC, 5.07.12). This possible explanation was not mentioned in any of the British articles on the sorcery murder, potentially evidencing the selective process of citing sources. Similarly, murder appeared as a tertiary theme in seven articles, linking it with the cannibal cult story. Of the five articles on the initial arrest of members of a cannibal cult, four quoted police commander Mr Anthony Wagambie saying “they don’t think they’ve done anything wrong” in the opening two paragraphs. This opening sentiment conjures an image of remorseless murderers, neglecting to contextualise the story. Cannibalism is not a condonable act, but the limited sources and selective quotations mean that stories are cast into the spotlight without capturing the full framework in which such events take place. Lent acknowledged that research has shown “foreign news in United States newspapers often deals with crises, the bizarre or outlandish or the East-West struggle” (1977: 47). The BBC
  • 37. 30 extended its reach beyond these criteria, covering a wider range of events but homing in on political issues. However, the commercial papers’ focus on deaths in Papua New Guinea tallied with Lent’s assertion, as stories on murder were chiefly associated with cannibalism and witchcraft – perceived as primitive and bizarre behaviours to 21st century civilised nations – despite being part of British history. 3.7 When Disaster Strikes Reports on tragedies and natural disasters composed 9.7 per cent of coverage. This comprised a ferry that sank off the coast of Lae (9 stories), which was covered by all media types except the mid-market titles, and a landslide in Nogoli (2 stories). Woollacott gauged that crisis reporting stems from the “West’s deep disillusion with nearly all post-colonial societies, as well as the Western assumption that the West is still the ultimate arbiter of the rest of the world” (1975: 10). This seems poignant as seven of the nine articles on the sunken ferry tragedy were classified as representing Papua New Guinea as reliant and in need of aid. This was evident in quotes from the Australian Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who declared: “This is obviously a major tragedy. We have been asked to provide assistance to PNG and we are providing that assistance” (The Mirror, 3.02.12). Many articles specified the aid Australia was providing: An Australian search and rescue plane […] reached the scene by the afternoon and two other Australian planes were on their way. An AMSA spokeswoman, Carly Lusk, said the crew of the first plane threw several life rafts to survivors in the water (The Guardian, 3.02.12). The stories detail the achievements of the Australian rescue mission, but do not mention the Papua New Guinean rescue boats, suggesting the country was unable to help itself. The article in The Mirror which cited Julia Gillard (see above) in fact did not quote any representatives of the nation, only the Australian Prime Minister. Lewis, Cushion and Thomas (2005) found that news channels selection of sources is limited to individuals in politics, business, law and order, and the news media. This study would add to this finding that the voices of developed nations are more resonant in international news, even when the issue at hand concerns a developing nation. Curiously, the landslide that swept two villages, killing an estimated 40 people, received little coverage (2 stories). While the BBC dedicated 290 words to the story, The Daily Telegraph published only a brief article of 70 words. However, both articles emphasised the devastation
  • 38. 31 caused. The Telegraph (26.01.12) quoted an aid worker who said: “People lost their entire families. They are in shock”. The BBC explained “this was one of the worst landslides in Papua New Guinea”, quoting a local MP, Francis Potape: “There are people buried under the ground and a number of them are children” (25.01.12). The destruction wrought is acknowledged, and both articles cite nationals, giving the country an opportunity it rarely receives to define events that occur within its borders. Lent understood “Western reporting traditionally has played up the violent and disastrous – in short, bad news” (1977: 48). While this holds true with the reporting of murder in Papua New Guinea, and also the ferry that sank, which were both fairly well covered, the landslide appears an anomaly. Perhaps the lack of reporting stems from the dominant ideology surrounding the nation, depicting it as a land of sorcery and cannibalism, allowing no space for the construction of victimhood when natural disaster strikes. Thus, the “students and trainee teachers” (The Guardian, 3.02.12) who were on the ferry were an exception to the stereotypical portrayals of Papuan people, as they were educated and did not deserve their fate. In addition to the limited coverage of the landslide, severe flooding in September 2012 which left tens of thousands of people isolated went unreported in the UK. A mother and child died of starvation in Paipa, and a woman in Tumbalere died as she could not reach her local health clinic to get necessary medication. Despite the destruction caused and the relief effort that ensued, the flooding failed to receive coverage in any of the outlets studied. 3.8 Conclusion Overall, the volume of negative news outweighed the positive. The royal visit to some degree countered the bad news, yet had this not occurred, the picture of Papua New Guinea captured in the news would likely be more adverse. There were clear differences across media outlets, with most broadsheet and mid-market papers and the BBC attempting to neutralise the negative news by relaying stories in a balanced manner. The public service broadcaster presented a bigger picture to contextualise events, adhering to its mission statement and pursuing a more serious and impartial news agenda, with a focus on political issues to uphold civil society.
  • 39. 32 The next chapter will enter into a discussion of these findings, considering the variation across media outlets and the implications for Papua New Guinea. The news values identified in the literature review will be reconsidered, and the interview with foreign correspondent, Liam Fox, will be introduced to explore the broader issues surrounding reporting of international affairs.
  • 40. 33 Conclusion Almost forty years ago, a Filipino information official bemoaned: It is as if Western reporters feel their job in any developing society is to identify that society’s weakest points and biggest problems and then make them worse by exaggeration and unremitting publicity (cited in Woollacott 1975: 48). This statement has been echoed in the research of many studies exploring international news of developing countries since, begging the question: has anything changed? Despite being classed as a peripheral country (Chase-Dunn, Kawano and Brewer 2000), Papua New Guinea was not that absent from the news agenda. Therefore, Chang’s (1998: 544) finding that peripheral and semiperipheral countries were perceived as “insignificant, if not irrelevant” in Reuters coverage of a WTO event does not appear to resonate within the context of this study. Beer (2010) found that in 2008, Oceania received the least coverage of all continents in UK, US and German television news. However, it may be inferred from this that print and online media are more likely to cover the distant region than television news. Chang’s (1998) observation that hierarchical positions affect the quality of news flow seems accurate, since negative coverage of Papua New Guinea outweighed the positive. Beer (2010) discovered that despite minimal coverage, Oceania was more positively presented than any other region. The current examination of Papua New Guinea in isolation would suggest that positive reporting may stem from the presence of other Western nations in the region, such as Australia and New Zealand. Loto et al (2006: 111) concluded from their study of the representation of Pacific islanders in the New Zealand press: “Pacific people need to be framed as passive and irresponsible in order to justify the framing of Palagi as active and responsible”. This appears to carry across to the current research, as the majority of stories ascribed undesirable traits to Papua New Guineans. Thus, associating ‘them’ with brutish and primordial behaviours and beliefs reinforces the framing of the UK as humane and civilised. As outlined in the methods chapter, an interview with ABC’s online and television Papua New Guinea correspondent, Liam Fox, was conducted, in which the findings of the study were discussed. Reflecting on Boris Johnson’s reference to “Papua New Guinea-style orgies
  • 41. 34 of cannibalism and chief killing”, it would appear that the media propagate negative typecasts. Fox remarked: Stereotypes exist because […] there’s some nugget or kernel of truth to the way things work, and people grab onto that as an easy way to describe things. And it gets over used and abused, but it’s also a biological way of telling between us and them. Evocative of Billig’s notion of national identity and Anderson’s imagined communities (see chapter 2), this ‘othering’ appears to be deep rooted. The media’s power in fortifying this collective identity, against which foreign nations and peoples are measured, appears to build layers on the dividing wall that separates ‘us’ from ‘them’. Wu’s (2000, 2003) assertion that the main way developing nations make it into the international news is through disruptive occurrences seems pertinent, particularly incidents, as Golan (2008) observed, of a deviant nature. The prominence of stories on cannibalism and sorcery causes political issues to be demoted. Thus, a developing nation’s struggle towards democracy is overlooked in favour of news on the brutish behaviours that plague the isolated communities unaffected by Westernisation. Fox encapsulated this notion: It’s unavoidably, unquestionably, interesting and fascinating to read about stuff like that. There’s no denying that. Whether that’s human voyeurism, whether it’s that we like to see dark things, I don’t know. The simple fact is […] this stuff sells. Fox’s remark seems to reaffirm the existence of newsroom values. Galtung and Ruge’s (1965) ‘threshold’ news value appears to carry to the present day, since the stories on murders were gruesome, and only tragedies with a significant number of fatalities were reported. Commenting on the stark disparity in coverage between the ferry tragedy and natural disasters, Fox theorised: Well that’s a much larger scale loss of life […] it’s an unfortunate reality of the news organisation that the body count matters. The more people that die the bigger the story it is. By and large, reference to something negative clearly prevailed as the main value of selecting news.
  • 42. 35 The value of ‘meaningfulness’ was appropriated, as the story that received the most coverage was the royal visit, which concerned UK citizens, and also coincided with the value of ‘reference to elite people’. Franks (2004: 426-427) asserted: There may be plenty of foreign news, but by definition news from poor countries is nearly always bad news – associated with disasters or wars. The only regular exception to this is visits by the royal family or other celebrity Westerners. Franks’ statement appears to have bearing, since the royal visit was the only high ranking story of a positive inclination. Subsequent themes such as murder, tragedy and cannibalism coincide with the proposed ‘definition’ of news from poor countries equating to bad news. The current study refutes Berglez’s (2008) theory that global news networks like the BBC deliver a global outlook in their financial reporting but not necessarily in their covering of political, cultural and ecological news. The BBC seemed committed to objective reporting of hard news, allocating a substantial amount of its coverage regarding Papua New Guinea to the mutiny, election and power struggle between Somare and O’Neill. Yet, the BBC also included a lengthy article on the discovery of a new amphibian in the jungle, and another on a Papuan marriage, illustrating the diverse, colourful culture. Broadsheets maintained a high degree of neutrality in their reporting with few exceptions. However, the claim that broadsheets contain “more demanding content” (McNair 2009: 5) is questionable, since while these papers covered a range of topics, they published only one article on Papuan politics. McNair’s claim may hold true in domestic news, but does not seem to carry across to international reporting. Despite publishing fewer articles on the nation, mid-market titles for the most part carried a positive or neutral tone, while the lack of coverage was to be expected given the scarcity of publications in this category. Tabloids were by far the most negative in their reporting, highlighting deviant occurrences in compliance with their propensity towards “sensationalization of topics not considered “nice” by common consent among other newspapers” (Bromley and Cushion 2011: 223). Considering three of the top five selling
  • 43. 36 newspapers in the UK are tabloids11 , and the alleged ‘tabloidization’ of the press, the future for international news looks bleak. In light of Hoge’s (1997) assertion that the UK is more internationally minded than the US, a Nexis search was conducted spanning the sample period, firstly of 20 major UK newspapers, then of 20 major US newspapers. The UK search generated 530 articles, compared to the US search which produced 107. Although not all of these focus primarily on the nation and as such were not included in the sample, there is nonetheless a vast difference in the volume of coverage, implying Hoge’s claim still holds. The move to commercial news, most evident in tabloid titles, seems to have caused the initial moral purposes of journalism to be lost. Selectivity takes the place of objectivity; the bizarre takes precedence over the political; and bad news triumphs over good news. Fox explained: While the BBC can afford, because it doesn’t operate towards commercial imperative, to occasionally report about PNG, other papers, other organisations, have got to get people to click on the stories or buy the papers. Consequently, hard news from nations like Papua New Guinea gets pushed down the news agenda. As only fragments of news about the nation, predominantly negative in nature, make it onto the global media stage, public perception becomes skewed. Golan (2008) identified Africa as suffering under the ‘Bad News Syndrome’, yet this phenomenon is widespread, and appears to encompass Papua New Guinea. Fox reasoned: To do positive stories you have to invest time here. You have to get to know it. You have to have a journalist who lives in an area to understand it. Foreign bureaus are shrinking in all media organisations […] and if it’s not good now, it’s only going to get worse. Papua New Guinea is at the bottom of a very long list of places that most news organisations don’t care about. Liam Fox is one of only two foreign correspondents based in Papua New Guinea, both of whom work for Australian news organisations. Given this lack of an international presence, it seems viable that Papua New Guinea may be viewed by editors as a distant source of bizarre and deviant news. However, the manner in which many newspapers select and recount the stories overlooks the gravity of the situation, presenting a sweeping generalisation of the nation and its people. These people live in desolate parts of the jungle, unaffected by 11 Guardian, The. 2012. ABCs: National daily newspaper circulation October 2012. Available at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/media/table/2012/nov/09/abcs-national-newspapers [Accessed: 23rd April 2013]
  • 44. 37 Western values, and in many ways are simply living as British people did centuries ago. The killings are in no way condonable, but the difference in lifestyle needs to be understood to contextualise these stories. Liam Fox claimed that “organisations that have people based here, the ABC and the AAP, […] have a lot more positive stories than news organisations that don’t have anyone based here”. Since a principal purpose of news is to prioritise national interests, one might think that a fellow Commonwealth nation would be more objectively reported in British news. It is the responsibility of journalists to report on wrongdoings, but coverage ought to be balanced so that negative occurrences do not overshadow positive developments. While the BBC maintained a hard news agenda and largely upheld an objective stance, the discriminatory processes of news selection in most national newspapers meant that Papua New Guinea appeared in the Western media more as a spectacle of ‘otherness’ than as an equal. This ethnocentric approach holds Papua New Guinea back from its place in the global village, and drives the goal of globalisation further away. As one of few places on this earth that remains untouched by Westernisation, Papua New Guinea ought to be valued for its unique culture and diversity, rather than branded for its downfalls as a consequence of doctrinaire attitudes adopted by the Western media. WORD COUNT: 11,999
  • 45. 38 Bibliography ABC. 2012. PNG police arrest ‘witch-hunting cannibals’. ABC News [Online] 5 July 2012. Available at: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-07-05/png-police-arrest-alleged- cannibals/4113208 [Accessed: 20th March 2013] Anderson, B. 1983. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. London: Verso BBC. 2006. Boris Apology to Papua New Guinea. BBC News [Online] 8 September 2006. Available at: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5327984.stm [Accessed: 28th March 2013] Beaudoin, C.E. and Thorson, E. 2001. Value Representations in Foreign News. International Communication Gazette 63(6), pp.481-503 Beer, A.S. 2010. News From and in the ‘Dark Continent’: Afro-pessimism, News Flows, Global Journalism and Media Regimes. Journalism Studies 11(4), pp.596-609 Berglez, P. 2008. What Is Global Journalism? Journalism Studies 9(6), pp.845-858 Billig, M. 1995. Banal Nationalism. London: Sage Bromley, M. and Cushion, S. 2011. Media Fundamentalism: The Immediate Response of the UK National Press to Terrorism – From 9/11 to 7/7. In: Zelizer, B. and Allen, S. eds. Journalism after September 11. 2nd ed. Oxon: Routledge, pp.212-231 Chang, T. 1998. All Countries Not Created Equal to Be News: World System and International Communication. Communication Research 25(5), pp.528-563 Chang, T. and Lee, J. 1992. Factors Affecting Gatekeepers’ Selection of Foreign News: A National Survey of Newspaper Editors. Journalism Quarterly 69(3), pp.554-561 Chase-Dunn, C., Kawano, Y. and Brewer, B.D. 2000. Trade Globalization since 1795: Waves of Integration in the World-System. American Sociological Review 65(1), pp.77-95 Cohen, J. 1960. A Coefficient of Agreement for Nominal Scales. Educational and Psychological Measurement 20(1), pp.37-46
  • 46. 39 Cushion, S. 2012. The Democratic Value of News: Why Public Service Media Matter. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan Deacon, D. et al. 2007. Researching Communication: A Practical Guide to Methods in Media and Cultural Analysis. 2nd ed. London: Hodder Arnold Delacroix, J. and Ragin, C. 1978. Modernizing Institutions, Mobilization, and Third World Development: A Cross-national Study. American Journal of Sociology 84(1), pp.123- 150 Franks, S. 2004. The World on the Box: International Issues in News and Factual Programmes. The Political Quarterly 75(4), pp.425-428 Galtung, J. and Ruge, M.H. 1965. The Structure of Foreign News. Journal of Peace Research 2(1), pp.64-91 Golan, G.J. 2008. Where in the World Is Africa? Predicting Coverage of Africa by US Television Networks. International Communication Gazette 70(1), pp.41-57 Golan, G.J. and Wanta, W. 2003. International Elections on the US Network News: An Examination of Factors Affecting Newsworthiness. Gazette 65(1), pp.25-40 Hall, S. 1997. Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: Sage Harcup, T. and O’Neill, D. 2001. What Is News? Galtung and Ruge revisited. Journalism Studies 2(2), pp.261-280 Hoge, J.F., Jr. 1997. Foreign News: Who Gives a Damn? Columbia Journalism Review 36(4), pp.48-52 Holohan, S. 2006. New Labour, Multiculturalism and the Media in Britain. In: Poole, E. and Richardson, J.E. eds. Muslims and the News Media. London: I.B. Tauris, pp.13-23 Kariel, H.G. and Rosenvall, L.A. 1984. Factors Influencing International News Flow. Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly 61(3), pp.509-516 Lent, J.A. 1977. Foreign News in American Media. Journal of Communication 27(1), pp.46- 51
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  • 48. 41 Appendix A: Coding Sheet 1. ID Number: 2. Publication: 1 The Daily Telegraph 2 The Sunday Telegraph 3 The Times 4 The Sunday Times 5 Financial Times 6 The Guardian 7 The Observer 8 The Independent 9 Independent on Sunday 10 i 11 Daily Mail 12 Mail on Sunday 13 Daily Express 14 Sunday Express 15 The Sun 16 The Sun on Sunday 17 Daily Mirror 18 Sunday Mirror 19 Daily Star 20 Daily Star Sunday 21 The Morning Star 22 The People 23 BBC Online 3. Type of media: 1 Broadsheet/ former broadsheet 2 Mid-market 3 Tabloid 4 Public service 4. Date: 5. Word length: 0 0 to 99 100 100 to 199 200 200 to 299 300 300 to 399 400 400 to 499 500 500 to 599 600 600 to 699 700 700 to 799 800 800 to 899 900 900 to 999 1000 1000+ 6. Type of story: 1 News article 2 Opinion article 3 Sport 4 Feature article 5 Business 0 Not possible to say 7. Theme of story (primary, secondary and tertiary if applicable): 1 Cannibalism 2 Natural resources 3 International relations 4 Marriage 5 Environment/ landscape 6 Travel story 7 Crime and retribution 8 Royal visit 9 Scientific study 10 Tragedy 11 New species discovery 12 Politics
  • 49. 42 13 Sport 14 Corruption 15 Mutiny 16 Natural disaster 17 Social unrest 18 Murder 8. Context: 1 Positive 2 Neutral 3 Negative 0 Not possible to say 9. Negative attributes of PNG people: 1 Violent and brutish 2 Corrupt 3 Primitive and tribal 4 Distinct group (‘other’) 5 Uncooperative 0 Not possible to say 10. Positive attributes of PNG people: 1 Welcoming and friendly 2 Physically active 3 Community/ family oriented 4 Educated 5 Compassionate 6 Exotic 0 Not possible to say 11. Representation of PNG: 1 Exotic, unexplored and beautiful 2 Violent and dangerous 3 Resourceful for mining 4 Primitive and tribal 5 Spiritual 6 Corrupt and lawless 7 Welcoming 8 Reliant/ in need of aid 9 Politically unstable 10 Unwelcoming 11 Sporty 0 Not possible to say 12. Explicit ratings: 1 Positive 2 Neutral 3 Negative 0 Not possible to say
  • 50. 43 Appendix B: Codebook The study shall utilise content analysis, a quantitative method, and the purpose of this coding book is to provide the instructions of how to code the news articles in a way that makes direct comparisons possible and reliable. This codebook contains the names and descriptions of the variables and the range of values for coding correct and incorrect missing values. Therefore, this coding book will be applicable to both print and online media. The sample is to cover all national newspapers of the UK, and the BBC’s online news. The media types studied as applicable to their relative categories is listed in the below table. Print Broadsheet Print Mid-market Print Tabloid Online Public Service The Daily Telegraph Daily Mail The Sun BBC The Sunday Telegraph Mail on Sunday Sun on Sunday Financial Times Daily Express Daily Mirror The Sunday Times Sunday Express Sunday Mirror The Times Daily Star The Guardian Daily Star Sunday The Observer The Morning Star The Independent The People Independent on Sunday i The unit of analysis is individual news articles. All articles in the main sections of newspapers are to be included in the sample. Editorials, opinions pieces, and business news should also be included. Book reviews, ‘in pictures’ articles and video reports should be excluded, as should regional editions of newspapers. The time frame for the analysis will span 14 months, from the start of January 2012 to the end of February 2013. 1. Item identification number: Each news item is to be uniquely identified with an identification number. These will begin at 1, increasing in value to cover the total sample size. 2. Publication: The publication is to be identified from those listed in the above table. 3. Media type: The type of media is to be identified between the print newspapers of broadsheet (value 1), mid-market (value 2) and tabloid (value 3), and the online public service broadcaster (value 4). 4. Date: The date is to be recorded as five or six digits, separated by full stops. For example, February the fourteenth 2012 is to be written 14.02.12, May the first 2013 is to be written 1.05.13.
  • 51. 44 5. Word length: The word length of articles is to be noted, in increments of 100 words, up to a maximum value of 1000 words upwards. Between 0 and 99 words should be coded value 0, between 100 and 200 words should be coded value 100, and so on, up to a maximum value of 1000 words and above, to be coded as value 1000. 6. Type of story: The type of story is to be noted according to which news section the article falls into. These comprise news (value 1); opinion (value 2); sport (value 3); feature (value 4); and business (value 5). If this is not clear, ‘not possible to say’ should be selected (value 0). 7. Theme of story (primary, secondary and tertiary): The primary theme of an article should be identified, and if applicable, secondary and tertiary themes may also be noted from the following: V1: Cannibalism – acts of eating human flesh. V2: Natural resources – natural materials or substances which can be exploited for economic gain. V3: International relations – relations with other countries, particularly regarding progressive development and politics. V4: Marriage – the formal union of marriage between two parties, either as a newspaper announcement or feature story. V5: Environment/ landscape – the geographic surroundings or conditions, often considered in terms of their aesthetic appeal, in which people, animals, or plants live. V6: Travel story – recounting experiences in a particular place, primarily appearing in feature sections of newspapers. V7: Crime and retribution – an act which constitutes an offence and is punishable by law, concerning arrest of suspected criminals and deliberating punishment, which is enforced by the justice system. V8: Royal visit – concerning the visit of members of the British royal family, namely Prince Charles and Camilla on their jubilee tour. V9: Scientific study – a method of investigation concerning the nation and its people, involving observations or experiments to construct or test hypotheses. V10: Tragedy – a very sad event or situation, especially one involving death or suffering, particularly concerning a large number of people. V11: New species discovery – the discovery of a new species of plant or animal. V12: Politics – the activities of the government or people who try to influence the way a country is governed, including elections and rivalry between ministers. V13: Sport – concerning national sport teams or the exchange of sport players to the nation. V14: Corruption – illegal, bad, or dishonest behaviour, especially committed by people in positions of power.
  • 52. 45 V15: Mutiny – refusal to obey the orders of a person in authority, for example, culminating in a coup to overthrow political leaders. V16: Natural disaster – disasters caused by natural occurrences such as adverse weather conditions, for example landslides and flooding. V17: Social unrest – an uneasy or troubled condition among inhabitants. V18: Murder – the unlawful premeditated killing of one human being by another, including cases of sorcery killings. 8. Context: Article embedded in positive (value 1), negative (value 3) or neutral (value 2) context. To be determined by the content of the story: for example, murder categorised as negative context; marriage categorised as positive context. If not possible to say, value 0 is to be selected. 9. Negative attributes of Papua New Guinea people: Articles containing evidence of particular negative attributes of Papua New Guinea people to be categorised from those listed below. If it is not possible to categorise from these options, a ‘not possible to say’ (value 0) option is to be selected. V1: Violent and brutish – acting with or characterised by uncontrolled, strong, rough force. Engaging in acts of brutality and violence, such as murder. V2: Corrupt – guilty of dishonest practices, such as bribery, lacking integrity; crooked. Often concerning ministers in government or, for example, judges. V3: Primitive and tribal – relating to human society at a very early stage of development, with people living in a simple way without machines, often relating to tribes. V4: Distinct group (‘other’) – different in nature or quality; dissimilar (usually ‘from’ the West): a measure of contrast. V5: Uncooperative – not willing to work with or be helpful to other people, for example concerning disputes between political leaders and between national government and international actors 10. Positive attributes of Papua New Guinea people: Articles containing evidence of particular positive attributes of Papua New Guinea people to be categorised from those listed below. If it is not possible to categorise from these options, a ‘not possible to say’ (value 0) option is to be selected. V1: Welcoming and friendly – to receive or accept with pleasure: amicable. V2: Physically active – involving physical effort or action, such as active sport. V3: Community/ family oriented – friendliness and understanding between local people. V4: Educated – learned or knowledgeable, for example students and teachers. V5: Compassionate – sympathetic, for example showing compassion, not avenging acts in an ‘eye for an eye’ manner. V6: Exotic – of foreign origin or character; strikingly unusual or strange in effect or appearance.
  • 53. 46 11. Representation of Papua New Guinea: Articles portrayal of Papua New Guinea to be categorised to one of the values listed below. If it is not possible to categorise from these options, a ‘not possible to say’ (value 0) option is to be selected. V1: Exotic, unexplored and beautiful – a landscape of aesthetic appeal, home to a diversity of wildlife that is relatively untouched and not well mapped, for example, as portrayed in travel stories. V2: Violent and dangerous – use of physical force intended to hurt, damage or kill someone, for example, in cases of murder such as sorcery killings and cannibalism, and also cases of social unrest leading to violence, resulting in an unsafe environment. V3: Resourceful for mining – home to a wealth of natural materials or substances which can be exploited for economic gain, for example evident in business pages of newspapers describing mining shares. V4: Primitive and tribal – relating to basic human society at an early stage of development, in which people live in a simple manner sometimes considered uncivilized, also relating to tribal communities. V5: Spiritual – relating to, or affecting the human spirit or soul as opposed to material or physical things; sacred, unworldly. V6: Corrupt and lawless – not governed by or obedient to laws; characterised by a lack of civic order, and relating to dishonest practices, often concerning ministers in government and people in powerful positions. V7: Welcoming – greeting in a glad, polite, or friendly way, for example concerning the reception of overseas guests. V8: Reliant or in need of aid – relying on another for support, particular in times of crises in which aid is required, for example concerning reliance on international actors or neighbouring countries for help when tragedy occurs. V9: Politically unstable – prone to change or fail, an unsteady foundation on which a democracy rests, for example evident in articles about mutiny or disputed elections. V10: Unwelcoming – inhospitable or uninviting, not friendly towards someone or objecting to their arrival. V11: Sporty – engaged in physical activities, particularly sports, such as rugby or cricket. 12. Explicit ratings: Language of article can be coded as positive (value 1), negative (value 3) or neutral (value 2). This entails looking at sentences in more detail to determine if the connotations of words used are explicitly negative (e.g. “brutal slaying”) or emotive (e.g. “utter devastation”). The use of sources should also be studied, to establish who is cited and what quotes are selected. To calculate the tone of coverage, a mean should be calculated as a combination of context and explicit ratings in order to obtain an overall score.
  • 54. 47 Appendix C: Interview Transcript AW: What do you think coverage is like, generally, of Papua New Guinea? I mean, a lot of studies have shown that developing countries receive largely negative coverage and it’s not actually that frequently that they get covered in the news. LF: Yeah, Papua New Guinea would definitely fall into that situation. But it depends on where you live, I mean, I’m guessing there’s very little coverage of PNG at all in the UK. There’s a lot more in Australia, simply by proximity and shared history. Um, there are only two foreign correspondents in PNG and they’re both Australian, from Australian media organisations. Um, and yes, it’s a difficult question about negative coverage. I’d have to agree that probably most of the stories written about PNG are negative. Um, at the same time, there is a lot of crazy, weird shit that goes on here, like it is an incredibly violent country. Life is cheap here. You know, violence is a common way to solve problems because police don’t have the capabilities to enforce law and order themselves so people take the law into their own hands. There was just another horrible gang rape involving an expatriate lady in the last day or two. We’ve seen a number of gruesome sorcery killings recently, you know, bad stuff does happen here, really bad stuff. And while the media coverage, like foreign media coverage, largely involves expatriates who get into that sort of trouble here, you know, the locals suffer even worse, from crime and violence and stuff like that. Poor government resources, so, you know, there is a reason, as much as it can be stereotyped, there is a reason that there is a lot of negative coverage, because as I said, a lot of bad stuff happens here. Not just violence and crime but, poor social programs, government corruption, government inability to provide services, all that stuff, just a lot of bad stuff in general happens here. But, if you looked at the organisations that have people based here, the ABC and the AAP, they would have a lot more positive stories than news organisations that don’t have anyone based here. So, I do try to do positive stories as well and balance out the negative coverage. AW: Yeah, it’s interesting actually, because I didn’t really find any stories to do with UK people who were visiting or Australians, it was largely to do with kind of, local issues. Obviously like the woman who was killed for sorcery recently, in February, and the cannibal story, were quite high on the agenda. LF: Yeah, yep, and stuff like that, I mean, we’re in the news business, stuff like that, as bad as it is, is interesting, and makes people click on stories like that. It’s unavoidably, unquestionably, interesting and fascinating to read about stuff like that. There’s no denying that. Whether that’s human voyeurism, whether it’s that we like to see dark things, I don’t know. The simple fact is, and I don’t work for a commercial news organisation, but I can imagine that commercial news organisations that get money from per click or from newspaper sales, or whatever, this stuff sells. That’s why there’s interest in it.
  • 55. 48 AW: Do you think that there’s any way to avoid negative stereotyping of nations, when the news that we receive is so, kind of, predominantly bad? LF: Um, look it’s hard because the media industry is shrinking. Um, to do positive stories you have to invest time here. You have to get to know it. You have to have a journalist who lives in an area to understand it. Foreign bureaus are shrinking in all media organisations. Um, so, the ability to get positive stories and in depth stories is just shrinking and if it’s not good now, it’s only going to get worse. Papua New Guinea is at the bottom of a very long list of places that most news organisations don’t care about. AW: Um, a lot of academics and political leaders have actually said that negative stereotyping, and this negative coverage that developing countries receive is damaging to their development. Do you agree with that? LF: Um, there’s certainly, I think you could say that the negative, I mean, Papua New Guinea has a negative stereotype. You just talk to an Australian and ask ‘would you go on a holiday to Papua New Guinea’ and most people would go ‘hell no, people get murdered and raped and stuff over there, you know, there’s no way I’m gonna go over there’. Um, but at the same time that’s true, stuff like that does go on. Do you want the media to shut up about the bad stuff to avoid creating negative stereotypes? I mean, stereotypes, we can go back to anthropology. Stereotypes exist because there, you know, there’s some nugget or kernel of truth to the way things work, and people grab onto that as an easy way to describe things. And it gets over used and abused, but it’s also a biological way of telling between us and them, you know. That’s what makes people different to Australians or Papua New Guineans, it’s a big thing, and it’s easy to blame the press for stereotyping but the press is a symptom of the wider society and goes on in wider society. AW: Ok, with the cannibal cult story, one of the interesting things I found was that the coverage over here really only cited the police officials who were saying about what had actually happened, and some fairly gory details of the crimes. Whereas, there was an article on ABC which quoted Mr Fairweather, connecting it to malaria, saying that this belief in sorcery is more widespread in areas where there’s lots of malaria because it can lead to hallucinations and that kind of thing. Is that an explanation that you’ve heard often? Is there any truth in it? LF: What, so your question is about why did a lot of the coverage not just focus on the police, is that the question? AW: Um, no I just wondered, we didn’t have any explanation it was kind of just more pointing out the brutality of these crimes, whereas the ABC… LF: There was no context? AW: No.
  • 56. 49 LF: Well that’s again the symptom of having, not someone based in a country that can give the full story. Um, if you’re a foreign news organisation who doesn’t have someone here, the only people you can really contact are police, because you can find their number somewhere. If you don’t know the country or the locals or anything, you’re not gonna have contacts to be able to call other people, be it the local member, be it, you know, a local women’s group or something like that. Um, so these foreign organisations that can only get the police, that’s because they can only get to the police, they don’t know who else to get. The police are often easy to get, more than anyone else. Um, yeah, so it’s more of a logistical issue I think, that people can’t give the full context because A, they’re not based here, and B, it’s a hard place to report on from outside the country. AW: Yeah, do you think that there’s actually some truth in the malaria explanation? Is that like an often mentioned explanation? LF: Nah, no I mean that’s his explanation, that can contribute to it, but belief in sorcery is widespread and deep rooted here, you know. Um, whether people have got malaria or not, and also, one thing that people have said about the recent sorcery killings is that it’s not really about sorcery at all. Sorcery is just the cover for other local jealousies or politics or something or other like that. So people get taken out and then the people who do it go ‘ooh nah she was a witch’, when really it was about some sort of local politics or local jealousies under the surface. Um, so there’s that element but also as I said, belief in sorcery and black magic is widespread here. Even well-educated Papua New Guineans, even Christians, people who say they’re Christians, they believe in sorcery. Several of my staff have told me that they believe in sorcery. Um, so, it’s an undeniable fact that lots of people believe in it here. AW: I read a story on amnesty that a woman was beheaded for sorcery recently, but that hasn’t appeared in any of our papers that I’m aware of. Um, and there’s a mother and her two daughters are still being held by the community? LF: Yeah, yeah, you can find that story on the ABC, but once again, I’d say the situation there is that there’s just been so much international news of late. You know, we’ve had the Boston bombings, we’ve had, er, I can’t think right now, but other really big stories. Maybe it was just squeezed out because so much other stuff was going on, I don’t know, I can’t explain why other news organisations don’t cover things. AW: Do you think there’s any solution to the problem of sorcery? Because, the news doesn’t really offer any viable way of overcoming this issue, it seems to just kind of amplify it. I think some people would argue that if you continue to say this is a nation that’s just full of cannibals and sorcery, they will start to live up to that expectation. LF: The first question, do I know what to do about it, no I don’t. I’m just a journalist who’s been here for four years, people who’ve spent a lot more time than me here have done a lot more research into this issue, but they don’t know how to solve it really, except for
  • 57. 50 maybe more education, awareness, generational cultural change. Um, but as for the second part of the question, will people just fulfil, will it become a self-perpetuating cycle, that negative media coverage encourages bad behaviour, I don’t think so, because not many people here would read foreign newspapers or have exposure to foreign news. Most people here still live in the bush, with no internet communication whatsoever. There’s, only a tiny fraction of Papua New Guineans have access to the internet, so, no, this problem pre-existed. Media coverage or negative stereotypes, um, so, no I can’t agree with that proposition. AW: Ok. Um, we had a number of stories on tragedies that had occurred. There was a ferry that sank off the coast of Lae, and a landslide in February that swept over two villages, which actually received only two articles covering that, whereas the ferry received a lot of coverage over here. LF: Yep, well that’s a much larger scale loss of life. I mean, we’re talking about 160 to 180 people compared to 20 people I think, from memory, who were killed in the landslide. And you know, it’s an unfortunate reality of the news organisation that the body count matters. The more people that die the bigger the story it is. AW: And there was flooding in September, um, I only found out about this from looking at ABC and online. Um, I’m guessing again that’s to do with the body count? LF: Well, that and that places get flooded here all the time, you know, it’s nothing unusual to have a community with several thousand people, because, like I said, most people still live in the bush, still live in huts. So when there’s a big storm, they’re not in modern houses or on stilts or anything like that, lots of people get affected. So it’s a pretty regular occurring thing that er, you know, foreign news organisations wouldn’t be interested. I mean, there’s only a finite amount of space and resources that can be devoted to overseas coverage. Um, and PNG struggles to make it into that list of stories every day. Whether it’s me, who’s dedicated here, who lives here, or whether it’s you know, someone working for an organisation that doesn’t operate here. AW: One of the main findings of the study I did, was that the BBC presented a much more impartial account of the nation, even when covering nastier stories like the sorcery. They would focus more on the action being taken by the police, interviewing and trying to get to the bottom of it, and they didn’t actually cover the cannibal story. Whether to avoid negative stereotyping or what, but the focus on the BBC was primarily on political issues, which received practically no coverage in any of the national papers over here, despite the ongoing power struggle between O’Neill and Somare. Do you think the political issues in Papua New Guinea are something that ought to be reported in the UK? LF: Yes, in an ideal world, of course. An average British person could pick up a paper and if he had an interest in Papua New Guinea he would go to the Papua New Guinea section in the paper and read some news, but it’s not an ideal world. Most news
  • 58. 51 organisations have a commercial imperative. The BBC doesn’t, like the ABC which I work for, and to be brutally honest, you’re average UK resident probably isn’t interested or doesn’t have the time of day to, you know, we all lead busy lives. There is, I’m imagining, not that much demand. I’m imagining apart from you, and maybe ten other people in the UK, who would be interested in Papua New Guinea political issues? And while the BBC can afford, because it doesn’t operate towards commercial imperative, to occasionally report about PNG, other papers, other organisations, have got to get people to click on the stories or buy the papers, and you know, PNG wouldn’t be a factor in most newspaper buying people, I imagine.