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The media in transition: The rise of an "independent" press in Post-Invasion Iraq and the American role in shaping the Iraqi press 2003 - 2005

Hadhum, Haider S. (2012). The media in transition: The rise of an "independent" press in Post-Invasion Iraq and the American role in shaping the Iraqi press 2003 - 2005. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City University London)


This thesis covers the situation of the Iraqi press landscape after the toppling of Saddam’s regime on the 9th of April 2003. In particular, it attempts to disclose American interventions in the work of the Iraqi press in the period 2003-2006. It examines three main aspects of these interventions, as briefly summarized below: press legislation; planning and construction of new press entities; and attempts to influence pro-American press coverage following the invasion.
Within a few weeks of the fall of Saddam’s regime, Iraq witnessed the launch of many newspapers, after many decades of government oppression and censorship. The phenomenal mushrooming of Iraqi local newspapers was used by the U.S government as an indication of success in democratizing a country in which the local press had suffered from the oppression of different military governments, and finally of Saddam Hussein and his notorious son Uday. However, this thesis shows that the flood of newspapers caused anarchy in the press market. As a result there was confusion among many readers about the credibility of the new press, because of the lack of professionalism in its coverage.

- The existing, laws active in Iraq restricted the freedom of the press, and there was a need to establish a new legal framework for the media. The U.S Army’s first reforms abolished several articles of the press laws. This study shows, however, that these reforms had questionable practical effect. The reforms abolished laws relating to the Ba’ath regime and Saddam Hussein, which were in fact already redundant, given the collapse of the regime. Meanwhile other articles in the Iraqi penal code, prescribing measures to punish newspapers, journalists or editors, were left intact when they should have been changed or cancelled. In addition, the Coalition Provisional Authority added an article that gave the head of the CPA the right to close or to punish any media entity if they violated certain conditions.

- The thesis shows that the Americans’ early plans to shape the Iraqi press were mostly motivated by the need to create a press friendly to the American occupation, and to confront anti American messages or campaigns. The Department of Defense handled the early plans to “build” such media entities, but the Pentagon was not successful, as the main contractor was oriented more towards information control, and lacked experience in building media
organizations. As a result of this the U.S plans for the Iraqi media in general stumbled, and did not make the expected progress.

- American intervention in the Iraqi press was not limited to attempts to create an official “friendly” press, but extended into persistent efforts to influence the local “independent” press. This thesis uses evidence based on original interviews with leading figures from the Iraqi press to build up a detailed picture of these attempts. Different American military units or institutions used different procedures to pass messages that were directed to helping polish the image of the American soldiers, and at the same time demonize their “enemies”. One of these procedures was to create friendly “independent” newspapers, covering certain events that would show the U.S Army as helping to establish new public services. The other favoured procedure was to bribe local journalists to cover such events and publish them in existing newspapers, or to pay newspapers to publish articles written by American soldiers and then translated into Arabic.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: J Political Science > JZ International relations
Departments: Doctoral Theses
School of Communication & Creativity > Journalism
School of Communication & Creativity > School of Communication & Creativity Doctoral Theses
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