The framing of information warfare: a comparative analysis of Estonian and Irish online news media in 2014-2017
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In recent years, information warfare has become one of the top priorities on the international security agenda. The significant rise of the respective threats originates from 2014, when Russia’s invasion and annexation of Crimea as well as Daesh’s extensive engagement in conventional and unconventional warfare caused the escalation of information war to an unprecedented scale. The severe threats of information warfare were recognised by the EU, NATO, and the Member States who have been developing defence mechanisms while emphasising the importance of social freedoms. Therefore, debates on the threats of information warfare in media, with a particular focus on digital media, have gained momentum. In turn, information warfare has also become a highly topical matter in media. Therefore, the thesis studies the framing of information warfare in Estonian and Irish online news media in 2014-2017 and interprets the differences and similarities in the media frames. The thesis employs articles on information warfare published in the three most visited Estonian and Irish online news media and applies the method of qualitative framing analysis. Three frames are identified in the media coverage of both countries: Russia-West confrontation frame, national security frame, and truth frame for Estonia, and national security frame, Russia-West confrontation frame, and technology and extremism frame for Ireland. The comparative analysis finds that the media frames reflect the different historical backgrounds of the countries, as the Estonian media frames tend to be politically more motivated to reinforce the hostility of Russia and call the Western democracies for unity. The second main difference in the frames is the coverage on extremism, principally on the example of Daesh, which was largely neglected in Estonian media for the perceived distance, but more covered in Irish media for relative closeness through the impact on the UK. Nevertheless, above all, the frames emphasised the common values and principles of the two countries.
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