Framing the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in Helsingin Sanomat news

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Title: Framing the abduction of the Chibok schoolgirls in Helsingin Sanomat news
Author: Kokki, Eeva
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Teologinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Theology
Helsingfors universitet, Teologiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingin yliopisto
Date: 2020
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Religion, Conflict and Dialogue
Abstract: The objective of this thesis is to utilise the frame-building perspective to study how the Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat framed the case of the Chibok schoolgirls who were abducted by the terrorist group Boko Haram in April 2014 in Nigeria. The data of this study is based on 105 news articles published by Helsingin Sanomat between April 2014 and December 2018. The structure of the thesis consists of four main sections. The first section focuses on mapping the case in the Nigerian context and providing information to understand the Nigerian situation with regard to its historical background, the rise of Boko Haram, and the case of the abducted Chibok girls. The second section focuses on the theoretical frameworks. News framing theory is an appropriate tool for studying media content that deals with terrorism. While the case consists of foreign news, there are also brief references to the theory of newsworthiness and foreign news transmission processes in the Finnish media. Also, the ambiguous relation between media and terrorism is addressed: terrorists need media for conveying information about their attacks, and correspondingly, their attacks serve as material for the news media. The third section focuses on terrorism and its victims, and its relation to conflict-related gender-based violence. In the Chibok schoolgirls’ case one perspective to violence is the concept of abduction. The fourth section focuses on the implementation of the frame building perspective to examine the selected Helsingin Sanomat news data. The study reveals that in reporting the Chibok schoolgirls’ case, Helsingin Sanomat favoured material from western news agencies and the most referred to news agencies were AFP and Reuters. Local Nigerian media was referred to as a source only in five of the news. The categorization of the quote source types reveals that Nigerian authorities dominated as sources for the citations in the news. From the news data a total of 12 frame theme categories are recognized and these categories are further organized into four main frame theme groups. In the group “Understanding the circumstances” the prevailing background information is the description of Boko Haram and the dichotomy of the country, but discussion of the ethno-religious historical background of the conflict remains limited. The second group “Government inactivity and politics” reveals that the news mainly concentrate on the negotiations and the international interventions to resolve the conflict between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram. The third group “Terrorism and violence” concentrates on the case of the Chibok schoolgirls, and the other attacks are described as chains of events. The Nigerian government’s role in the atrocities is recognized but not widely discussed. In the last frame theme group “Community and compassion” the communities’ active role in conflict resolution is recognized as the voice of the victims of Boko Haram. In general, the Chibok schoolgirls are depicted as a cohesive group which is subject to terrorism and collective violence. Despite the wide media coverage, the schoolgirls’ story is told by others in the news or via the reports of human rights organizations. The conflict in the country is depicted to be that between the Nigerian government and Boko Haram, although the unstable situation in the country has developed from a complex web of socio-cultural, economic, ethno-religious, and regional elements. The Chibok girls themselves, although referred to in the news, are mainly presented as victims whose own voice is hardly heard.
Subject: Terrorism
gender-based violence
Boko Haram

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