Framing the U.S. Election and an Obama Presidency: Arab New Media in 2008-09

Research Manager:
Craig Hayden

This study examined content from online newspapers and blogs from across the Arab world to assess the developing media discussion of the United States presidential election and results. The project tracks content from 3 months prior to the election, to 3 months following Barack Obama's election in order to understand how a range of Arab news outlets (both national and pan-Arab) framed key aspects of the election – such as the democratic political process, the institution of the presidency, and expectations of an Obama presidency.

While some have suggested that the election of Barack Obama is a positive development for U.S. public diplomacy and the image of the United States – this project aims to unpack this speculative notion to see how Arab media constructed the events of the election, and how online media users contributed to this construction through reflection, evaluation, and debate over the election stories. In particular, this study will assess the development of public arguments about the election in order to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how media both frame events and are responsive to new media audiences in the Arab world.

The study provided valuable insight into the nature of mediated communication about the United States, and how U.S. public diplomats can be more responsive to the ongoing conversations and presumptions that shape opinion in our transnational community.