Framin Darfur

Rosalina Dias & Norma J. Martinez

Studenteropgave: Speciale


Abstract This Master thesis explores the Danish media framing of the conflict in Darfur and furthermore the elements and narratives that the identified frames are constructed and based upon. Based upon framing theory and coding methods we have performed a quantitative and qualitative content analysis of 213 articles of Denmark’s biggest morning newspapers: Politiken, Berlingske Tidende and Jyllands-Posten. We have chosen three frames, which we argue are characteristic in the newspapers coverage of the conflict in Darfur: 1) The ethnic frame, 2) The War on terror frame and 3) The Genocide frame The ethnic frame is constructed by continual emphasis on the ethnicity of the victims; Africans and aggressors; Arabs, which we argue results in the construction of an Africa-Arab dichotomy, where the main rationale becomes that ethnic differences are the main causes of the conflict. Viewed through a journalistic logic ethnicity can be understood as a practical communicative tool to describe a conflict that otherwise is hard to identify for a Danish audience. Ethnicity has been one of the most common explanations of African conflicts in post-colonial history. By describing the conflict as ethnic, the news coverage feeds on mainstream stereotypes about the African continent as savage and primitive. We analyze, discuss and conclude that The ethnic frame does not present describe the content in depth and does not explain the background of the conflict nor which political an economic factors are at stake. Instead it concentrates on individual human suffrage which the thesis discusses as a depolitization of the conflict. The second frame identified in the empirical material is The war on terror frame, which is constructed by linking the government of Sudan to the al-Qaida and Osama bin Laden. A second element in the construction of The war on terror frame is the continual use of terms such as Islamists, fundamentalists, militants which since 2001 have become synonymous with al-Qaida, Taliban, Afghanistan and Iraq. Furthermore this frame is dependable on The ethnic frame, where Arabs are portrayed as “the bad guys”. This thesis discusses and concludes that the The war on terror frames produces and reproduces stereotypes of Arabs and Muslims in general. Based on Edward S. Herman and Noam Chomsky’s Propaganda model and theory on worthy and unworthy victims we argue that the media focus on Darfur can be understood through the logic of worthy victims, who receive attention because they are victims of an official enemy’s aggression. These victims are newsworthy as they justifiy “our” war against an official enemy. The third and final analyzed frame is The genocide frame. Since 2004 there has been numerous discussions on whether there is or has been committed genocide in Darfur. There is still no international consensus on this matter. Through the analysis of the 213 articles we observe that the journalists make subjective judgments categorizing the conflict as genocide. This frame is constructed by the use of sources that apply the genocide terminology, whereas sources who do not agree with this term do rarely play an important part in the media coverage. Secondly The genocide frame is constructed by references to the genocide in Rwanda in 1994. We argue that this analogy awakes identification and a collective memory that brings the reader not only back to Rwanda, but furthermore to Kosovo and Bosnia and finally the Holocaust. We discuss that the genocide frames are constructed by and reproduce a us and them/subject and object-dichotomy, where the subject: the western aid worker and politician is rational and human, whereas the object: the Arabs are directly and indirectly portrayed as irrational and inhumane.

UddannelserInternationale Udviklingsstudier, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) KandidatJournalistik, (Bachelor/kandidatuddannelse) Kandidat
Udgivelsesdato22 dec. 2009
VejledereHanne Jørndrup & Steffem Jensen


  • medier
  • Darfur