Persian-Language Media overseas as the Western Tools of Public Diplomacy: Framing COVID-19 Pandemics in Iran by VOA and BBC

Document Type: Original Article

Authors

1 Assistant Professor of American Studies, Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran.

2 PhD Student of American Studies, Faculty of World Studies, University of Tehran, Tehran, Iran

Abstract

The coronavirus pandemic has attracted the international media since the first infection was identified in Wuhan, China in late 2019. Despite the similar frames all around the world, the present study assumes that international media have not portrayed the countries with confirmed outburst of the disease in similar terms. It is believed that diseases in the world are both political and biological. The present study, therefore, employs media framing, as conducted by Entman and Van Gorp, to analyze the first fifty VOA and BBC Persian news that covered the spread of COVID-19 in Iran. These agencies are chosen for their significant position in the western public diplomacy and their probable influence within the country. The results indicate that the outbreak of COVID-19 in Iran is framed in seven major frame packages: Iran at crisis, Iran as the source of regional and international threatening virus, lack of determination and confidence in decision making in Iran, Iran’s incompetence and disqualification as an ill-equipped system, lying and hypocrisy in Iran, violation of human rights, and finally, Islamic political ideology as a source of corruption.

Keywords