War coverage has a strong bias towards promoting conflict escalation,
and though less pronounced this bias often survives in
post-war coverage as well. Even after wars end, only a few journalists
frame conflict in a strongly de-escalation-oriented way. Do they have
a chance to reach the public? Will their audience regard their reports
as more or less balanced and unbiased? Will their reports influence
their audiences mental models of the conflict? Or will the audience
cling to its prejudices and reject news articles that are not consistent
with the enemy images spread by the mainstream media?
The present paper investigates these questions in the context of a series
of experimental studies which measure audience responses to escalation-
and de-escalation-oriented news articles on (1) the Yugoslavian conflict
after the fall of Miloevic and (2) the War on Terror.
The results of the studies show that de-escalation-oriented news articles
were accepted by audiences and resulted in less polarized mental models
of the events.