(De)Legitimizing Surveillance Revelations through the Media Lenses

Critical Discourse Analysis of the British Newspapers on the 2013 NSA Disclosures


  • Maria Czabanowska




NSA revelations, Snowden, whistleblower, media framing, (de)legitimisation, surveillance, critical discourse analysis


This research interprets and explains how and why the British newspapers such as The Guardian, the Daily Mail, and The Independent, have (de)legitimized the NSA Snowden revelations of 2013. The study uses critical discourse analysis to understand what media framing techniques are used by the media sources and how can they be explained by looking at the core ideologies and news values of the newspapers. The corpus used for the analysis includes ninety articles in total, consisting of thirty per newspaper. The frames are identified using Entman’s (1993; 2005) definitions of media framing. They are then explained using the (de)legitimisation techniques by Van Leuuwen and Wodak (1999) in a comparative manner. The analysis reveals that The Guardian focuses on deligitimising surveillance and justifying their decision to cooperate with Edward Snowden on the basis of legality, public interest, morality, and power abuse. The Daily Mail legitimises surveillance using arguments concerning security, counterterrorism, and citizen protection while concentrating on Snowden’s personal life, love, lifestyle and character. The Independent follows an informative narrative to raise awareness about the scandal through a politically autonomous stance. It allows the readership to shape their opinion on the subject by presenting them with contra and pro surveillance arguments.  


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