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The Iraqi expatriates’ experience of the North American media coverage of Iraq Rostam, Hajera

Abstract

There has been extensive media coverage of Iraqi home, culture, and people in the recent past. Concerns have arisen around an unbalanced and biased coverage of the conflict in Iraq, potential censorship or neglect of the humanitarian crisis in the region, and the associated discrimination of people with Middle Eastern ethnicity (Farhoumand- Sims, 2003; Miskin et al., 2003). In this study, I explored the following question: How have Iraqi adult immigrants living in Vancouver, Canada, experienced the recent North American media coverage of their culture, people, and country? Data were gathered through the use of individual interviews and the interpretive description methodology. Data from 10 participants (8 men, 2 women) were analyzed using Miles and Hubermans' (1994) analytic framework. Themes emerged that described the Iraqi expatriates' exposure to the North American media coverage of Iraq, and the overall responses including the initial impact of witnessing the coverage as well as the ongoing impact. The North American media was perceived to be biased in its coverage of the Iraq war, and that it often engaged in a negative portrayal of Iraqi people, culture, and the religion of Islam. Participants' responses to the initial phases of the coverage included: intense following of the news, difficulties in relationships, signs of depression, concern for families and Iraqis, and a sense of powerlessness. The ongoing impact of the coverage of Iraq brought forth various cultural challenges, changes in worldview, coping, and a desire to show alternative stories through the media.

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