Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


School of Humanities and Social Inquiry


This thesis focuses on mainstream western media distortion and propaganda in relation to reporting of the Syrian conflict, the motives and actions of its protagonists, and the conflict's major events and outcomes. It does this by examining coverage of key events by the widely respected New York Times from March 15th, 2011 to December 31st, 2018. This thesis also compares aspects of this coverage with reporting by The Independent on the 2016 military operations in East Aleppo and the 2017 military operations in Al-Raqqa. By utilizing the Propaganda Model in relation to Framing Theory, this thesis highlights the uneven reporting of the humanitarian crisis in Syria by the mainstream Western media. Two thousand one hundred two newspaper articles were analysed to answer the two research questions: (1) to what extent have Western mainstream media been influenced by war propaganda in their coverage of the Syrian conflict, and why, and what techniques reflect the propagandised coverage? And (2) how has media coverage of the Syrian conflict and the "war on terror" advanced the terrorism industry? The thesis argues that The New York Times and The Independent (to a lesser extent) espoused a pro-US narrative of the Syrian conflict and the "war on terror". The biased coverage of the two newspapers was constructed out of several elements: (1) the dominance of US sources and selective use of UN and NGO sources; (2) the qualitative and quantitative aspects of the use of visual content to advance a pro-US narrative; (3) the use of graphic and emotive terms to advance the same narrative; (4) focus on the humanitarian crisis allegedly caused by the Syrian-Russian forces and overlooking the humanitarian crisis allegedly caused by the US and the allies forces. Finally, this thesis questions the role of Syrian citizen journalists, particularly their relationship to political elites and intelligence agencies. It also contextualises the concept of the "terrorism industry" to help explain the way that propaganda has been used in relation to reporting on terrorism related-events.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.