Framing the war on terror: The internalization of policy in the US press

Stephen D. Reese, Seth C. Lewis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

97 Scopus citations


The War on Terror was the label assigned by the Bush administration to its national security policy, launched in response to the attacks of 9/11. The cultural construction and political rationale supporting this slogan represent a powerful organizing principle that has become a widely accepted framing, laying the groundwork for the invasion of Iraq. We examine this framing where its sponsors intersect with US journalism, as illustrated by news texts. Broadly, we examine trends in how news reports refer to the War on Terror and provide an interpretive analysis of stories in USA Today. From the period of September 2001 to early 2006, these news texts suggest that the frame was internalized by the US press. News and editorial reports went beyond 'transmitting' the label as shorthand for administration policy, to 'reify' the policy as uncontested, and 'naturalize' it as a taken-for-granted common-sense notion.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)777-797
Number of pages21
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2009


  • Framing
  • Ideology
  • News routines
  • News texts
  • War on terror


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