Barnett's Sept. 11 research is
published, accepted for conference


Elon School of Communications faculty member Brooke Barnett has teamed with Amy Reynolds, a colleague from Indiana University, to write two book chapters and a conference paper about the media coverage of September 11.

"This research examines the visual and verbal frames implicit in the coverage and the free speech issues that arose after the attacks," explained Barnett.

"Free Speech Implications in the Wake of September 11" was published in February in "Studies in Terrorism: Media Scholarship and the Enigma of Terror," a book of peer-reviewed articles by the Journal of International Communication, edited by N. Chitty, R.R. Rush and M. Semati.

The chapter by Barnett and Reynolds is study of the impact of the September 11 terrorist attacks and the subsequent U.S. "war on terrorism" on political dissent, rights of association and access to information by the media and the public.

According to the authors' research, a legal and historical analysis suggests that the recently enacted U.S. Patriot Act fits a historical pattern the U.S. government has established during the past 200 years to limit and sometimes silence voices of dissent during times of war. An analysis of current legal challenges, Congressional debate, media coverage, the text of legislation and transcripts of public statements by various individuals and organizations suggests that the U.S. Patriot Act and efforts by the current U.S. Attorney General to limit public and media access to information pose a threat to the First Amendment.

"We conclude that the U.S. government response to the terrorist acts of September 11, 2001, has the potential to unconstitutionally limit First Amendment speech and association rights of U.S. citizens and legal aliens," write the authors. "We also argue that new government efforts to block the release of important information will place an unnecessarily restrictive burden on the media who seek to shed light on governmental behavior at a time when the public needs to receive this information the most - during times of war."

Another chapter by Barnett and Reynolds, coming out this spring, is "America Under Attack: CNN's Verbal and Visual Framing of September 11th," included in "Media Representations of September 11th" (New York: Praeger), edited by Steven Chermak, Frank Bailey and Michelle Brown. "This chapter qualitatively deconstructs and analyzes CNN's verbal and visual "breaking news" coverage of September 11 and suggests that CNN created a powerful visual and verbal frame with its coverage," said Barnet. "This frame shows viewers that the events of September 11 comprised an act of war so horrific that immediate military retaliation was not only justified but necessary."

Barnett and Reynolds have also been invited to present their paper "CNN's framing of September 11: Suggesting an Appropriate Response to Terrorism" at the annual meeting of the International Communication Association in San Diego in May.



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Last Modified:  4/04/03
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