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Leyla Ghavam M.A.

PhD Candidate

Leyla Ghavam is a PhD candidate at the institute of Media and Communication studies, Free University Berlin under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Carola Richter. The preliminary title of her thesis is “Revisiting the Axis of Evil: a Critical Discourse Analysis of Iran’s Representation in the European (online) media”. Leyla has previously completed an MA in Intercultural Conflict Management from the Alice Salomon School of Applied Sciences (Berlin) and an MSc in Science & Technology Policy and Management (with merit) from Manchester Business School, UK.

Thesis: Revisiting the Axis of Evil: a Critical Discourse Analysis of Iran’s Representation in the European (online) media.


The aim of this research, which is an inter-disciplinary project linking media studies, cultural studies, and international relations, is to examine how Iran is currently portrayed by some of Europe’s leading online news sites, against the backdrop of increasing international tension. The research consists of several steps, namely a textual analysis of relevant articles from the Guardian, Le Monde, and Spiegel Online using Critical Discourse Analysis; a qualitative content analysis of the readers’ comments on, and reaction to, the issues covered by relevant articles, and finally semi-structured interviews with journalists and editors. This project therefore strives to draw a holistic picture regarding the hows and whys behind the coverage on Iran’s domestic and foreign affairs, with the hope to provide recommendations for journalistic practice as well as for foreign news reporting. While focusing mainly on the US media, previous studies on Iran’s representation in the West have primarily sought to detect instances of bias and misperception through the prism of Orientalism and the construction of the negative Other. Moreover, most of these studies focus on political issues including Iran’s disputed nuclear dossier and the associated international tension. The present research, however, seeks to examine how such political issues and their coverage overshadow important developments inside Iran including, amongst others, the exacerbating affect of international sanctions on the Iranian citizens (hypothesis). In addition, this research will examine the diversity of stances made across the extensive articles and commentaries on Iran; whether there are ‘breaks’ whereby a less reported issue is covered or a widely reported issue is covered from a different point of view. Combining textual analysis of the articles with a study on readers’ comments will help give an idea about how news pieces differ from/resonate with the public opinion.