Media frames and foreign policy: the New York Times' editorial framing of India and Pakistan before and after the September 11 terrorist attacks

Ashish Kumar, Iowa State University

Abstract

To explore and understand the relationship between the US press and US foreign policy, this study investigated how the New York Times' editorial coverage framed India and Pakistan over a five and a half-year period, and analyzed the editorials' attitudes toward US relations with and policy toward the two South Asian countries. The study found that after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, US policy and relations with Pakistan changed drastically and this change was mirrored in the distinct and profound change in the Times' editorial coverage of the country. Before 9/11, US relations with Pakistan were highly strained and the Times reflected this in its editorials that were mostly negative toward Pakistan. After 9/11, Pakistan pledged support for the US war on terrorism and was embraced by the US administration as a major ally. The Times showed a parallel change by publishing editorials that were significantly more positive toward Pakistan. US policy toward India did not change as bilateral relations continued to improve slowly but steadily. The Times editorial coverage reflected the improving bilateral relations and remained positive toward India before and after 9/11. These findings provide evidence suggesting a relationship between the coverage of international news in the US press and US foreign policy. The study provides a baseline for further research on the determinants of international news coverage in the US press and on the relationship between press performance and government foreign policy initiatives.