News frames, conflict and myth-making
Using news framing and discourse analysis, this chapter studies a particular event in the media representation of the Maoist insurgency in India to investigate how journalistic practices, especially the news narrative form and framing play a key role in negotiating the final meaning of the news stories. It looks at both the critical and constructionist aspect of news framing to unpack what it calls a split news frame in which the narrative schema, the editorializing, selection and ordering of information, treatment of the subject and politics of news sources all divide the emergent cognitive meaning of the event (as representative of the movement) into two opposed and mutually incompatible black and white parts with violence as its organizing optic. It is this split news frame that plays a decisive role in the social construction of reality and in public opinion formation on the issue.
It is argued that invariably the conflict, which has three actors and stakeholders, namely, the Naxal-State-Tribals, is given a media representation where in the third entity the tribals are rendered insignificant such that it becomes a tussle for power and control between the State and the Naxals. Those who would be the most affected by this violence, namely, the hapless tribals with little or no access to land and forests resources, find themselves excluded in the media texts as well.