Framing the Syrian Refugee Crisis: A Comparative Analysis of Arabic and English News Sources

Srividya Ramasubramanian, Caitlin Miles


The mass exodus of millions of Syrians from their country due to worsening war conditions has become a serious global humanitarian crisis. As the number of displaced refugees rises, so does the number of those living in inhuman conditions. This content analysis examines how popular news discourses shape the geopolitics of the Syrian refugee crisis. We use framing theory to explore the main frames that emerged in a comparison of 10 Arabic news sources with seven English news sources in their coverage of the crisis. Based on a systematic random sample, 278 Arabic news stories and 210 English news stories were selected for further analysis. Qualitative data analysis software was used to code and analyze the content of news stories at the article and sentence levels. Four main frames emerged from the analysis: border, institutional, victim, and war frames. Although the border frame was popular across all news sources, English sources were more likely than Arabic sources to use the victim frame and less likely to use the war frame. Implications as well as directions for future research are discussed.


Arabic, journalism, news, framing, refugees, content analysis

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