Publication Date


Type of Culminating Activity


Degree Title

Master of Arts in Communication



Major Advisor

Renu Dube, Ph.D.


This thesis aims to understand the phenomenon called Orientalism and reviews how Edward Said elucidates this subject. Its key argument is that certain forms of representation, including those through mass media, can and often do consist of efforts to represent reality in a subtle manner, which may distort the picture to the disadvantage of one group, or set of persons, or even states. The efforts at such representation succeed on account of an existing power differential as well as a body of texts having already established what "knowledge" is, what truth is about a subject, without any countervailing capacity or argument towards rebuttal available to the "other." At various times in history, this has been carried on by the strong against the weak and continues until this day.

The thesis proceeds to establish the fact that the ongoing political engagement between the United States and Iran is influenced by Orientalism. The wider mainstream US press affects and gets affected by the contours of American foreign policy. Evidence exists that the neoconservatives in the American press and policy community, particularly during the George W. Bush administration, enthusiastically carried forward the practices and agenda of Orientalism. An exploration of the mainstream US press, comprising of influential publications such as the New York Times (NYT), the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), Newsweek, and Time, suggests that they have contributed towards the construction of negative images of Iran and produced “knowledge” on it. There exists a paucity of media channels able to project the alternative side of events. However, Alternative Press Centre, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR), Democracy Now, and The Real News have attempted to present a balance in reporting within the US.

Technology-based tools to socially connect, such as citizen journalism, blogs, and social media networks as Youtube, Facebook, and Twitter reporting in real time, complement the alternative media and provide hope that (mis)representation through the dominant media discourse won't always go uncontested and will need to be moderated.