Introduction

Mediaís Role in Shaping Public Opinion on the War in Iraq:

A Content Analysis on Priming, Framing, and the Spiral of Silence

Americans are news consumers.  In an age of automobile accidents, gang drive-by-shootings, and school yard shootings, 24-hour news coverage seems to fill our nationís seemingly insatiable desire for conflict.  Whether it is out of a morbid curiosity, a quest to be informed, or merely a way to pass the time, the media stands ready to proffer conflict to its viewers and readers.  We look to our newspapers, televisions, and radios to inform us about the world around us; to tell us what influential people are saying and thinking; and to provide us with an anonymous litmus test of our opinions as viewed by the world.  When a controversial issue hits the front pages or leads off a newscast, we need to know where our views fit in the world of public opinion.  There is, perhaps, no subject more controversial than war.  This paper seeks to explain the climate of public opinion with regard to Operation Iraqi Freedom using framing, priming, and the spiral of silence theory.