Comparing News Sources


The coverage of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, the sole surviving suspect of the Boston marathon is analyzed in five different news sources: The White House, FoxNews, the GlobalPost, The Hindu and Al Jazeera. It appears that The White House, FoxNews and The Hindu portray Tsarnaev as Muslim terrorist threatening U.S. values. Moreover, these sources heavily rely on U.S. officials’ declarations. On the other hand, the GlobalPost and Al Jazeera present Tsarnaev as a lost adolescent boy trying to voice his anger at the atrocities committed by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. These news sources present a different perspective than that of U.S. officials. It seems U.S. media conglomerates heavily associate Islam with terrorism. Because of the power of such conglomerates, this bias also reaches the rest of the World.
                                                    Comparing News Sources

On April 15 2013 two bombs detonated at the finish line of the Boston marathon killing three people and injuring more than two hundred. Two brothers originating from Chechnya in Russia were the prime suspects. Following a manhunt that lasted several hours, the older brother, Tamerlan Tsarnaev was killed and the younger brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was severely wounded. He was treated at a hospital in Boston for a couple of days and was just moved to a prison facility for convicts that necessitate long-term treatment (FoxNews, 2013).

I chose to analyze the coverage of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s condition and his transfer from the hospital to a prison facility. This paper will first compare and contrast U.S. and foreign media coverage. The role government officials play in framing the news will then be addressed. Finally, the influence of Western media on constructing a specific image of Islam will be tackled.

Comparing U.S. and Foreign Media Coverage

An official White House Press conference conducted on April 22 2013 by White House press secretary Jay Carney, an article from FoxNews, a leading right-wing U.S. news source, published on April 26 2013, and an article from the GlobalPost, an alternative U.S. news source, also published on April 26 2013 represent U.S. media coverage. On the other hand, an article from Al Jazeera, a Qatari news source, published on April 26 2013, and an article from the Indian The Hindu published on April 25 2013 represent foreign media coverage.

The White House, FoxNews and The Hindu portray Dzokhar Tsarnaev as an angry Muslim terrorist representing a threat on the U.S.A while the GlobalPost and Al-Jazeera represent him as a lost young man acting impulsively.

The White House’s press briefing portrays Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a threatening Muslim terrorist and lauds the actions of the police and the FBI in successfully apprehending him. The words “terrorism”, “terrorist attack”, “terror threat” are mentioned more then ten times. In addition, the Bombing suspect is equated to Al Qaeda, with the latter mentioned more than five times. Chechnya is described as being a “hotbed of extremism.” Press Secretary Carney also praises the Boston Police multiple times in their “successful apprehension”, and the FBI in detecting terror threats with words such as the “right way to go” and “the appropriate way to go.”

FoxNews’ article also projects Tsarnaev as a Muslim terrorist threatening U.S. values. A large picture of a bustling Times Square immediately underneath the title with the following quote by New York’s mayor Michael Bloomberg: “New York was next on their list of targets. The fact is, New York City remains a prime target for those who hate America and want to kill Americans ” adds to the perceived dangerousness and threat of these two suspects. While no actual evidence of any plans to attack New York was found, Fox News nonetheless decided to prominently post this photograph in an article about the Boston bombing suspects. To a U.S. audience, an attack on New York is reminiscent of the 9/11 Al Qaeda attack on this city. The audience is thus lead to associate this suspect with an extremist Islamic terrorist group. In addition, inside the article, there is a mention of Faisal Shahzad, a “Muslim terrorist” that had plans to target Times Square in 2010. This mention serves to further entrench the association between the Boston bombing suspects and Islamic terrorism (Rhoades, 2004).  Again, readers are lead to equate the Tsarnaev brothers with “Muslim terrorists.” In addition, the Boston attacks are described as a “bloody terror spree”, and the Tsarnaev brothers are described as having “hurled bombs at police cars.” The dominant sources used in this article are official government sources, such as New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Police Commissioner Ray Kelly and anonymous FBI agents.

The article in The Hindu also draws similarities between the Boston suspects and Al Qaeda. The White House press secretary John Carney is quoted as saying “we continue to face a threat from Al-Qaeda.” Moreover, the term “Al-Qaeda” is mentioned three times. The article is entirely based on the wordings of John Carney, a White House press secretary with almost half the article consisting of direct quotes. The Hindu also portrays the U.S. as helpless victims attempting to understand the origins of such attacks against them. This victim status is emphasized by a large photograph of running shoes tied on metal barrier with a crowd of weeping people behind. The caption states that it is a memorial for the victims of the Boston marathon.

After reading the White House press briefing and FoxNews and The Hindu’s articles, it appears that the U.S. are helpless victims continuously subjected to the threat of Muslim terrorists.

On the other hand, the GlobalPost, an alternative U.S. news source, in an article entitled “Boston bombing suspect moved to prison hospital” do not mention “Al-Qaeda”, “terrorism” or “Islam” once. Instead, a lengthy description of Tsarnaev’s wounds is found: “sustained gunshot wounds to the head, neck, legs and hands”; “ […] unable to talk due to throat injury. He has been responding to questions in writing.” Such descriptions give the suspect a humane perspective and portray him as victim himself. The sources used are the US Marshals Service and CNN.

Finally, Al Jazeera, in an article entitled “Boston suspects planned to bomb NYC” portray the Tsarnaev brothers as “attackers.” Bloomberg is directly quoted as saying “NYC was next on their list of targets.” However, contrary to the FoxNews’ article, the rest of the quote about “people who hate America” is omitted. Moreover, the Al Jazeera article highlights what appears to be the inefficiency of the federal government. The successful hunt and capture of the suspects is described as a “victory” by U.S. officials but according to Al Jazeera, that victory might be seen in a “different light” since the FBI had known about them for several year without acting.  Similarly to the GlobalPost article, The Al Jazeera article also portrays the surviving suspect as a victim. In addition to a description of his wounds, he is portrayed as a helpless follower of his older brother’s plan to attack Boston. He is also described as a “teenager”, angry about the killings of Muslims by the US in Iraq and Afghanistan. A close-up photograph of his face with his bushy hair, fair skin and wide eyes further supports the framing of Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a young boy pressured by his older brother. The sources in this article are comprised of the FBI, the CIA, two unnamed “US Officials” and Michael Bloomberg, the mayor of New York.

Both the GlobalPost and Al Jazeera portray Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as a wounded victim subjected to pressure by his older brother. Al Jazeera further highlights the inefficacy of the US federal system and attempts to offer a rational justification behind these attacks. While FoxNews viewed these attacks as a way to express hatred against American values, Al Jazeera saw them as a reaction to the ongoing slaughters in countries occupied by the U.S.

The Role of Government Officials in Framing News

            Most U.S. mainstream media sources and an increasing number of foreign media sources tend to rely extensively on official declarations, transforming the media into nothing more than press release outlets for the government and military (Greewald, 2012). This heavy reliance on official claims leads to an increasingly homogeneous press coverage. An exception can be found in Al Jazeera and the alternative news source the GlobalPost.

All the media sources mentioned previously rely primarily on a mix of official sources such the FBI, the White House press secretary or the US Marshals Service. The article that appeared in The Hindu is a striking example of this over reliance on “Officials Say journalism” (Greenwald, 2012). The entirety of the article is based on the declarations of press secretary Jay Carney during a press conference given at the White House on April 26 2013, with almost half the article consisting of direct quotes.

As a result, the White House press briefing, the Fox News article and The Hindu article all contain the same perspective and almost the same wordings. All three sources present the Tsarnaev brothers as Muslim terrorists, directly or indirectly drawing similarities between them and Al Qaeda. The GlobalPost and Al Jazeera are the only news sources that truly offer a different perspective. While both the GlobalPost and Al Jazeera attempt to present Dzhokhar Tsarnaev as young wounded teenager pressured by his older brother into committing these attacks, Al Jazeera is the only news source that actually criticizes U.S. officials. It highlights the fact that Tsarnaev is only a suspect at this point, as “there remain more questions than answers.” It also highlights the inefficiency of the US federal government: “ […] unconnected dots buried in the US government […] that could have prevented the bombings.” Finally, what they White House saw as “remarkable work” done by the FBI in capturing the suspects is nothing more than a mitigated victory for Al Jazeera.

U.S. Media and Islam

U.S. media heavily manufactures Muslims as extremists and demonizes Islam as the biggest enemy of the U.S. and its values: liberal democracy and secularism (Thussu, 1997).

The White House, FoxNews and The Hindu use the words “terrorist” “Muslim terrorists” and “extremists” to describe the Tsarnaev brothers. On the other hand, Al Jazeera and the GlobalPost refer to them as “attackers”, “individuals” or “the Tsarnaev brothers.” According to Thussu (1997), the term “terrorist” is used to dehumanize Arabs.

In addition, in the U.S. there is ignorance of Islam and the contribution of this religion to the development of modern society and science. Instead, there is heavy bias against this religion and the association of Muslims with Arab dogmatism and terrorism is ubiquitous. Islam is thus perceived as a threat to liberal, secular society. For instance, the Oklahoma bombings of April 1995 which took 168 lives is the biggest terrorist attack in the US. At first, U.S. media attributed the attack to Islamic groups without any evidence. However, it turned out the attack was carried out by the US far right.

This distorted image of Islam is not restricted to Western media. With the expansion of Western media conglomerates, Western media control the world’s Internet, television, radio and print journalism. In addition, many newspapers from Southern  countries publish articles and editorials from Western newspapers because of syndication arrangements (Thussu, 1997). This could justify why the article in The Hindu features heavy pro-U.S. coverage.

Official U.S. government sources, mainstream U.S. media sources and an Indian newspaper portray the Boston bombing suspect as a Muslim extremist threatening U.S. values. It appears U.S. mainstream news sources and many international newspapers heavily rely on “officials say journalism.” On the other hand, an alternative U.S. news source and an Arab source challenge the declaration of U.S. officials by framing the Boston suspect in terms of a heavily wounded teenager trying to voice his anger against the atrocities committed by the U.S. in Iraq and Afghanistan. These U.S. news sources are part of giant media conglomerates that heavily construct Islam as a bastion of terrorism and a threat to Western society. One way to combat these derogatory stereotypes is to cultivate news exchange between the Arab world and other Southern countries in Latin America, Asia or Africa.


Al Jazeera (2013, April 26). Boston suspects “planned to bomb New York.” Retrieved from (2013, April 26). Boston marathon bombing suspect moved to federal medical center. Retrieved from

GlobalPost (2013, April 26). Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev moved to prison hospital. Retrieved from

Greenwald. G. (2012). “Officials say” journalism. Retrieved from

The Hindu (2013, April 25). No answers yet on Boston bombings: White House. Retrieved from

Rhoades, K. (2004). Propaganda tactics and Fahrenheit 9/11. Retrieved from

Thussu, D. K. (1997). How media manipulates the truth about terrorism. Economic and Political Weekly.

The Beauty and the Beast: An Analysis of Stereotypes


The Walt Disney Corporation is a dominating force in the realm of children movies. Disney films have been notoriously laden with gender stereotypes. However, the Disney classic “Beauty and the Beast” appears to deviate from this trajectory by portraying a nerdy female lead, a handsome “evil guy” and a brute as “Prince Charming.” Nonetheless, further analysis reveals that this movie is in fact no different from its predecessors. In addition, the “Beauty and the Beast” also contains some stereotypes related to race and social hierarchy.

The Walt Disney Company is one of the biggest media corporations in the world. It has been dominating the world of children movies for decades (Lamb & Brown 2007).

Children’s idea of appropriate gender roles and behaviors has been incessantly strengthened by Disney movies. Parents and educators have recently started to challenge the Disney conglomerate regarding their stereotypes-laden products (Guenther, 2009). Many people believe that due to its unwavering influence on children’s imagination, it should be Disney’s duty to ensure that their films are free of gender stereotypes and racial or religious discrimination. The 1991 Disney movie “Beauty and the Beast” appears at first to defy traditional gender stereotypes. Nonetheless, a careful analysis of the movie reveals that it abounds in stereotypes, whether related to gender, race or social hierarchy.

Transcending Gender Stereotypes

The protagonists in “Beauty and the Beast” have several characteristics that transcend Disney’s archetypal characterizations of the “Disney Princess” and “Prince Charming.”

Belle is a nerdy introvert who loves to read. Moreover, her dream is to get out of her provincial town and seek adventure. Also, Belle is not fooled by appearances. She constantly rejects Gaston, the most sought-after bachelor in town. Even though he is handsome, manly, muscular, rich and respected by all the townspeople, Belle is not attracted to him at all. She sees Gaston as rude, conceited and ignorant who only wants to marry her to make her his “little wife”. He believes: “ It’s not right for a woman to read. Soon, she’ll start getting ideas, and thinking.” When Belle calls him “primeval” he answers by saying “Why thank you.” Belle is also very courageous. When she notices her father is missing, she goes searching for him at night in the most dangerous part of the woods alone. In addition, she does not hesitate to sacrifice herself and offers to trade places with her sick father as the Beast’s prisoner.

The two male leads also break traditional gender stereotypes. Gaston is described as “tall, dark, strong and handsome.” He is loved by all the residents of the town and has many female admirers. Nonetheless, he turns out to be the “bad guy”. On the other hand, the Beast is repulsively ugly and turns out to be the “Prince Charming.” For the first time in a Disney movie, the message that what’s inside is more important than appearances is reinforced. Gaston is rude, insensitive, and disrespectful towards Belle’s father. He wants to marry Belle because “no one says no to Gaston.” He does not care about her feelings, or what she really wants and is rejected by Belle. The Beast is sensitive, caring and loves Belle so much he lets her go. He ends up marrying her.

Reinforcing Traditional Gender Stereotypes

Despite the previously mentioned characteristics, an in-depth analysis of Belle’s character reveals that she is in fact a stereotypical representation of Disney heroines. First, her name itself literally translates to “Beauty.” In addition, Belle’s appearance conforms to Disney’s ideals of beauty. She is fair skinned with straight long hair and wide eyes. She is skinny, with a tiny waist and delicate hands. Her voice is charming and she sings beautifully. Also, it seems she has an inherent need to look after the men that are important to her. She constantly takes care of her ditzy father and tends to the beast after wolves wound him. Moreover, Belle is described as “strange”, “funny” and “peculiar” by the townspeople because she loves to read. They are baffled by her love of books. They seem to think it is useless for a pretty girl to read. Also, even though Belle loves to read, her favorite chapter is the one where the heroin meets her Prince Charming: “Ohhh, isn’t this amazing. It’s my favorite part because, you’ll see, here’s where she meets Prince Charming.” The film suggests that even though she likes adventure, the most important drive in Belle’s life is to find her “Prince Charming” and marry him. Thus, exactly like previous Disney princesses, Belle can be reduced to a happy housewife searching for a husband (Maio, 1998). All Disney princesses are incomplete without a man, and Belle is no exception (Lamb & Brown, 2007).

Reinforcing Racial Stereotypes

The characters in “Beauty and the Beast” are all white and “Disney-typical.” Nonetheless, specific racial stereotypes (French and British) appear in the characters of Lumiere and Cogsworth.

Lumiere is portrayed as a candleholder with a strong French accent and demeanor. He affirms that once he regains his human appearance, he will resume cooking and dating. He is a scorching and ardent romantic, which is a stereotypical representation of Frenchmen (Wynn, 2010). On the other hand, Cogsworth is a clock who is strictly obedient to the rules. When Belle’s father enters the castle lost and wet, all the other animated objects rush to help him. Cogsworth is the only one who is reminding them not to talk to anyone. In addition, he affirms that once he becomes human again, his dream would be to “sip tea.” Thus, the French are perceived as being obsessed with flirting and food while the British are much more stiff, strict and boring.

Reinforcing Stereotypes Related to Social Hierarchy

In “Beauty and the Beast”, the servants are portrayed as inherently happy to be serving their masters and never complaining.

Gaston’s sidekick, LeFou, constantly suffers from physical mistreatment and emotional abuse from his master. Throughout the movie, Gaston has dropped LeFou in a pile of mud, hit him with a gun, squeezed his head underneath a chair and smashed him against a wall, yet LeFou remains faithful to his boss. LeFou is a clever man. He successfully tricks Belle’s father into describing the Beast in front of the asylum doctors so they think he is insane and leads the townsfolk on their quest to find the Beast. Despite his resourcefulness, he is always portrayed as Gaston’s dumb sidekick. He has a comical physique, He is short and plump, with missing teeth and a big red nose. Thus, the “Beauty and the Beast” seems to vehiculate the message that servants are destined to serve their bosses no matter how badly they are treated. They are poor and ugly, so their feelings are not as important as those of the beautiful and rich protagonists.


Disney movies have notoriously been laden with gender stereotypes. A first look at the 1991 Disney classic the “Beauty and the Beast” may lead us to believe it is an exception, with its portrayal of a nerdy female lead, a handsome “mean guy” and an ugly “Prince Charming.”  Nonetheless, after a closer look, viewers realize that all the traditional gender stereotypes are present along with some stereotypes related to race and social hierarchy. Since gender is a social construct reinforced by society (Guenther, 2009), it is thus critical for parents and educators to monitor what our children are exposed to.





Guenther, S. (2009). A Beauty or a beast? Textual analysis of stereotypes and discrimination in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Retrieved from:

Lamb, S. & Brown, L.M. (2007). See no evil? What girls watch. Packaging Childhood. Rescuing our Daughters from Marketers’ Schemes. St. Martin’s Press. Retrieved from:

Maio, K. (1998). Disney’s dolls. New Internationalist Magazine, 308. Retrieved from:

Wynn, E. S. (2010). An analysis of stereotypes in Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Retrieved from:




Gender Stereotypes in Advertising: A Lebanese Perspective – Introduction

Mass media play a central role in today’s world. Media messages are ubiquitous, reaching millions through TV, magazines, radio and the Internet. Through the construction and propagation of a certain type of message, mass media can heavily influence individuals’ mindsets and attitudes. One example of such messages is gender stereotypes in advertising. Stereotypes, or cognitive schemes, are depictions of reality in its most basic and simple form. People often use them in order to reduce the level of complexity of the world surrounding them (Wolska, 2011). Stereotypes are either acquired by people’s own interpretations or through the influence of someone else. Either way, they are extremely resilient to change. One example of such stereotypes is gender stereotypes. This blog will review the literature regarding gender stereotypes in advertising before providing an in-depth analysis of six print Lebanese advertisings heavily laden in gender stereotypes. A media literacy tool on how to critically look at sexist ads will end the blog.

Literature Review

Mass media in general and advertising in particular reach millions of people. The messages they carry are therefore immensely influential (Kim & Lowry, 2007). Some of these messages may be solely constructed for entertainment or recreational purposes; nonetheless, mass media messages change people’s opinions, attitudes and beliefs (Wolska, 2011).
Gender roles in advertising are an instance of stereotypically laden messages (Beltra & Llaguno, 2012). Women have been stereotypically reduced to four roles: the femme fatale, the sexy kitten, the supermom or the nasty villainess (MediaSmarts, n.d.).
The origin of these gender stereotypes lies in society’s patriarchal values. Since the earliest days of civilizations, men have assumed the roles of head of the household and bread-earner while the roles of women has been confined to that of housewife (Wolska, 2011). Even though these differences are now smaller, advertising continues to disseminate these roles. One reason for this persistence is the universality of this message (Knoll & Eisend, 2011). Because advertising messages reach large number of people, easily retainable messages that speak to everyone are preferred. Advertising laden in gender-stereotypes is one example.
Recently, several messages have tried to break this trend. The most significant example is the Dove campaign promoting women with curves (Howard, 2005). Such attempts have been more rare in the Arab world, mostly due to the dominance of men in decision-making positions in advertising and marketing agencies (NOW., 2011).
I chose to analyze six Lebanese ads depicting women in a stereotypical fashion. These ads are all print ads, posted on billboards in the greater Beirut area and coastal area. They pertain to households products, cars, and food brands.

Ad Analysis

washing machine ad

This ad by Az Electronic appeared on billboards in 2011(Kherrberr, 2011). At the left of the ad a close-up of a woman’s legs wearing long white boots and white panties is presented. The panties are halfway down suggesting a sexually provocative stance. A caption in bright pink and bright purple specifies that the washing machine has a program to wash delicate items, such as female panties. At the right a small washing machine is presented with some of its qualifications stated underneath, such as antibacterial program. The washing machine is white and the captions are light grey. The emphasis is thus drawn to the women’s legs and lingerie. This ad promotes the stereotype of women as sexy kitten.

abed tahan ad

This ad appeared on billboards on March 2011 at the occasion of Mother’s Day (IvySays, 2011).  It represents a washing machine and a vacuum cleaner from Abed Tahhan, a leading seller of household products. These two items are wrapped in a red ribbon. Compared to the first ad, this ad appears at first glance to make no reference to gender stereotypes. No women or female body parts represented in the ad whatsoever. However, the caption states: “Cross your mother’s mind twice a day!” This ad suggests that a washing machine a vacuum cleaner would constitute the perfect gifts for Lebanese moms. It seems nothing would please mothers more than cleaning after their family members. The stereotype of the women as the supermom is thus reinforced.

loto ad

This ad appeared on Lebanese billboards in 2011 (Kherberr, 2011). It advertises the Lebanese Loto. It is a close up of a woman’s bust, with two huge blue and red Loto balls tucked in her revealing top. The location and size of the Loto balls suggest two huge breasts. In addition, the woman is wearing what appears to be expensive jewelry (a pearl necklace, three diamond bracelets and a pair of diamond earrings.) Moreover, only the bottom half of the woman’s face is shown. Her hint of a smile and one can sense that the woman is confident and bold. This ad thus suggests that by participating in the Loto, women will be one step closer to affording a breast augmentation and jewelry. This breast augmentation will lead women to acquire higher levels of confidence and self-esteem. This ad portrays all women as obsessed by their appearance and as gold diggers. The first thing they will do if they win the Lebanese lottery is to surgically enhance their breasts and indulge in jewelry. The stereotype of women as femme fatale is thus reinforced.


This ad was placated on Lebanese billboards in 2012 (IvySays, 2012). It represents the front of a blue car on the far right. The majority of the space is occupied by a naked woman, strategically holding a sign that hides her private parts and presents information about the car. The woman is completely naked apart from wearing heels. She is tall and extremely skinny. Her skin is white, her hair is long and dark and she has dark eyes. White skin, long hair and dark eyes represent the epitome of beauty according to Lebanese standards. The woman has absolutely no relevance to the car whatsoever. The stereotype of women as sexy kittens is thus reinforced.  Its purpose is solely to attract people’s attention. I believe this ad and the previous Loto ad abide by the oldest and cheapest trick in the book: sex sells.

al rifai ad

This Al Rifai ad appeared on billboards and on social media in 2013 (IvySays, 2013). The left image represents a nut in the shape of a brain, with the bright white caption “Because he’s got the brains.” The right image represents a nut in the shape of a curvy body with the bright white caption “Because she’s got the curves.” A caption in dark grey appears behind stating “Happy Valentine.” This ad indirectly reinforces the stereotype of women as sexy kitten. Like the nut, women have sexy curvy bodies but they are brainless.

kellogs ad

This ad appeared in 2011 on the side of a Kellogs Special K cereal box (Kherrberr, 2011). It presents a woman wearing a tiny red bikini and high heels, carrying a large white bag around her shoulders. She is confidently walking down a street, smiling. The woman is tall, extremely skinny, has fair skin, long dark hair and brown eyes. The ad suggests that by eating Kellogs Special K cereals, women will look like this and will be so confident they will actually walk down busy streets wearing nothing but bikinis. This ad reinforces Western ideals of beauty (tall and skinny) but with a local undertone (dark hair and eyes). The stereotype of women as sexy kitten is reinforced.

Media Literacy Tool: How to Critically Look at Sexist Ads

–       What is the relation between the item being advertised and the woman shown?

–       What body parts of the women are shown/emphasized? Is it a full body wide shot or a shot of a specific body part?

–       What “role” is the woman made to assume?

–       Does the product or service being advertised justify the presence of the woman?

–       How would this ad be different if a man replaces the woman?


The advertising scene in general and the Arab advertising scene have been inundated with stereotypical representations of women. Even though some attempts to fight this trend have been made, most notably the 2004 Dove campaign promoting real beauty, the roles of the femme fatale, the sex kitten, the nasty villainess and the super mom continue to strive. It is important for the audience to look at sexist ads critically in order to avoid the negative consequences of such sexist commercials (Nelson, 2006).