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Archive for March, 2009

Kelly Canfield

March 31, 2009

Media Process & Effects

Reading #25 in Media Power in Politics focuses on the roles the media plays in foreign policy and their importance in not only serving the public but also in providing information and sources for policy makers. This becomes especially helpful during times of crisis and chaos when the media may be the sole provider of any information due to inaccessible sources. While the media may hold some power in these situations, it is debated about how much influence the media has on agenda-setting and what place they hold in diplomacy. The article weighed both positive and negative consequences. When used correctly, the media can be a very effective policy tool.

As an effective policy tool, it is important to understand the effect of media frames on public opinion in regards to foreign policy as discussed in Reading #26. The public has no “direct contact with the realities of foreign affairs” (p.307) so draw their opinions from media information, which is selective and framed. Elites must attempt to decode public opinion, can prove to be difficult. They often gain insight from the news frames. However, the same frames they seek public opinion from, they manipulate in their favor. This process becomes cyclical. It makes it difficult to figure out how the public really feels about foreign policy issues and methods used to judge public opinion may prove faulty. This is further discussed in Reading #27, focusing specifically on the Gulf War. It is not only elites who try to set media frames, but also other countries. Propaganda use is an example of this. During times of crisis and exciting events, American’s, glued to their televisions, become extremely malleable. The rise of the Internet has had increasing effects during these situations, allowing information disclosure that could potentially harm public interest. It then becomes a question of who should control this media source and what types of regulations should be placed on it. Reading #32 discusses state vs. national governmental control and outlines the present and historical difference in Internet regulation throughout the world.

In relation to foreign policy, it is hard to say the impact media frames and elites have on public opinion. It is hard to judge how much elites impact these frames and how much the media creates them. However, there is a definite cycle created, with the media as the catalyst. My concern lies in how much importance people place on creating their own opinion from a variety of information sources, and not just opting to follow majority or favored public opinion when this notion could prove to be false.

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  •  25

    In this chapter, O’Heffernan concludes that the mass media do play distinct roles in shaping the reality of American foreign policy. With interviews from several policy makers, the author presents this overall argument with varying examples. For example, interviewees believe that mass media re the fastest source of information on politically important events around the world. Other arguments involve an agreement among interviewees that mass media is remarkably reliable for foreign policy personnel  during crises, plays a key role in agenda setting, and is greatly utilized by foreign policy officials for signaling American preferences to other nations and attempting to influence other governments. 

    • 26

      With a series of case studies, Entman examines the interactive role of public opinion, mass media, and policy making. With the case study defense spending, he argues not only argues the inescapability of framing, but the fact that the impact of the public on government policy is likely to arise from a “circular process”- where government officials respond to polling opinions, which are indeed priorities that many of these government officials originally helped to create. As with the case of the nuclear freeze proposal, Entman argues that in some instances journalists and elites may not favor public input into foreign policy. However, this case has more importantly determined whether elites feel pressure to support the a social movement’s policy goals. With the use of news as surrogates for public opinion, positive coverage can therefore convey to elites that citizens favor the policy and the entire issue deserves a favorable place on the media agenda. Despite the angle of coverage, media frames inevitably play a central role in the process of representation and persuasion of government response. 

      • 27

        This piece looks media coverage of wartime with the example of the Gulf War and its significant impact on the practice of journalism. Hatchen clearly believes that war news should be reported by the press as completely and thoroughly as possible. As with the case of the Gulf War, however, we have seen clear evidence that even the most democratic governments will try to control and manipulate war news to their own strategic advantage. As a result,  constraints and restrictions are often placed on foreign correspondents whose job is ultimately to provide truth behind the war. But as we saw with the Gulf War and even the war today, the Pentagon has attempted to promote a “sanitized view or the war”, therefore distorting the truth and shielding the American public from exposure to the brutal realities of war. 

        Response:

        As a young high school student I was always aware  of such efforts on the part of our government to “protect” us from gruesome war stories and resulting images. But it was not until I had traveled abroad to Spain for the first time that I came across the other end of the spectrum, and realized just how sheltered Americans are from war news. I traveled with a group of fellow students just after terrorism hit Madrid’s train system in 2004. I don’t recall viewing too much broadcast news, but I do distinctly remember front pages of newspapers and magazines. The images were frightening and disturbing. I saw a view of violence that would never be exposed to the American public. Front page photos revealed damages just after the train bombings; not only were dead bodies clearly visible, but parts of bodies remained scattered throughout the scene. I couldn’t believe the extent of bloody visual coverage this attack had garnered. Despite my reaction as a consumer of the war news, this is evidence of the relative freedom of journalists to report brutal realities, which are so misinterpreted in America. 

        • 32

          Global governance of the internet has created multiple debates regarding just how globalization of the internet alters governance. Drezner presents one side of the debate: that the internet is indeed beyond the control of governmental organizations because individuals and organized groups have unrestricted access to it. However, he provides strong evidence to support his central argument: States, especially world powers, can and do control internet operations. Powerful governments primarily exert control, he argues, in the form of coercion, inducements, delegation, and a forum of shopping across different international institutions to produce their desired outcome. A prominent example provided is the French court’s success in a legal effort with Yahoo!. The French government saw it necessary that the engine drop all Nazi paraphernalia from its auction site. When the French court won this case, they proved that powerful states can successfully censor the national content of the Web without affecting the distribution of information on a global level. This also exemplifies Drezner’s argument that a government can exert some control over the internet without giving power to any one actor (or monopoly), and ensure efficient enough outcomes to maintain a significant presence over the Web. 

           

          Kim Sgarlata

          4.1.09

          Response 15

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                  In #25, Patrick O’Hefernan explains affairs between the mass media and foreign policy are very important and, for the most part, the way information is presented around the world.  Mass media coverage is needed for policy makers and is usually the fastest way information is spread.  Mass media, even though one of the greatest ways foreign policy is spread, is often criticized for and questioned about their influence and possible meddling in the policies.  In #26, Robert M. Entman describes the public’s affect on foreign policy.  He knows framing is inevitable and discusses defense budget spending while public opinion is influential in most cases.  Public opinion is always going to have effect on government policies and its impact is crucial.  In #27, William and Harva Hachten report on war and coverage that comes with it.  Reports before war bring on preconceived notions, having an effect on public before it actually takes place.  Propaganda during war can lead to “psychwar” emphasis for future conflicts but the press can learn from all this propaganda to report better in the future with lessons learned.  Lastly, #32, Daniel W. Drezner discusses globalization on the internet, where the internet is a major technological system used in today’s society, people need to be up to date to follow properly.

                  I wanted to personally discuss the Hachten’s discussion of war coverage and the leading up to the Iraq War coverage.  I found the coverage before the war section most interesting.  I did not realize that there was so much coverage of something before it even took a stance in the actual world.  Some information released to the public preceding declaration of war I will never see in the same light as I see it now.  Before when I looked at information before the war was declared I just saw it as news, but realize now how it affected my opinion of the war as it stands today.  All of the terrorists’ information released gave me a perspective of the need to go in and fight, and being in the military, I felt that way but not as strongly before information like that was presented.  The news reported during wartime is dramatic and keeps the public’s eye in the early stages further pushing the news reported beforehand.  Reporting of the war is continuous and very influential before, during, and after.

          Dalicia Xayasouk

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          Julia Castillo

          Reading Reflection

          April 1, 2009

           

          Media Roles: Foreign Policy, Public Opinion, War, and the Internet

           

                      The first section of the reading deals with the mass media and foreign policy. Martin Linksy performed a survey among three different case studies of foreign policy makers. What Linksy found was that the mass media do play distinct roles in the conforming the reality of American foreign policy. There are four distinct roles that the mass media play: policy officials receive immediate useful information, policy makers use the mass media in the early stages of a decision making process, it is often the only source when in a crisis, and finally it is often seen as a source of critical information for policy makers. Policy makers often see the mass media as the fastest source of information to help guide their decision, but it is not always the most complete and accurate. The media is also used by other nations or as “terrorvision” to influence American policy makers. The survey found that although this can be effective in getting their message across, it is hardly used as the deciding factor for policy change. As discussed before the media has an agenda setting role when it comes to policy makers. Although the mass media is helpful to policy makers, it has also been criticized for being to meddlesome. It was also found that the mass media is also very helpful when influencing other governments, in particular print media.

                      The next chapter focuses on how news framing is dominated by the elites. There are very few cases, especially when dealing with foreign policy, where public opinion is constructed from personal experience. Most often public opinion is constructed through the media frames that are determined by the elite. This then means that officials often anticipate what the majority opinion will be and frame a story in that light. The defense spending case and the nuclear freeze proposal were both used in this chapter to illustrate this point.

                      The next section deals exclusively with the media coverage of the Gulf War. During the Gulf War television became America’s front row seat to the happenings overseas. CNN televised broadcasts of the war, keeping the public up to date with live coverage from their correspondent’s hotel room windows overseas. This brought back the notion of the “CNN effect”. Both the governments of the United States and Iraq tried to contain the news coverage. Often news stories for withheld or distorted by the government and the military. Censorship and propaganda are often important components of warfare. But the press feels that they are being stifled and illegally denied access to information about the war by the government.

                      The final section discusses regulation of the Internet. The Internet has inherited many forms of regulation from protocols to censorship and privacy rights. Globalization, however, has made regulation of the Internet a tricky tool for the government. The Internet has permitted non-state actors to come into play, such as different civil groups, who want regulation on the Internet. Now-a-days more and more transactions are being done via the Internet, and consumers are worried about the privacy of their personal information. There is hope though, some governments have figured out different ways of dealing with the emerging technology. I find it interesting that the Internet has produced such an effect on laws and regulations that only ten years ago were not even a worry. It seems that has technology advances there are always going to have to be new regulations for governments to struggle with.

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          In chapter eleven, Graber talks about media coverage on foreign affairs and why it takes the backburner to domestic news in the United States. Many times foreign news gets looked over unless it impacts the U.S. economically, politically, or culturally. If it doesn’t have an impact on the U.S. then most likely it will not get coverage. There are not many news outlets that can afford to have reporters covering stories all over the world, but the New York Times and CNN still have workers in all parts of the world and cater to their audiences in many different languages. Many smaller news bureaus have cut back on their international news coverage and U.S. journalists working as foreign correspondents are becoming less and less and their jobs are being taken by foreigners from their appropriate countries. By doing this, news companies save money- about $250,000.

                      The chapter also talks about parachute journalists, the essentiality of foreign news for large corporations with foreign customers, media image, international websites and blogging, foreign newspapers and radio as ways to get international news. Graber says that many U.S. journalists cannot speak another language and this creates a problem even if they are given a government translator.

                      Also discussed are 4 pressures that news selection has to deal with, including cultural pressures: conforming to U.S. stereotypes when reporting domestic news, political pressures: making sure political stories on foreign countries follows their rules and censorship, which may not be the truth, such as the case with the opening of the People’s Republic of China in 1972. Sometimes reporters can face serious physical danger by reporting news in other countries.  Media diplomacy: how political leaders censor reporters and media in order to keep a good image, and last the economic pressures: concerning profits, keeping advertisers happy, attracting large audiences, and keeping production costs down.

                      I think that foreign news is an essential part of the U.S. and sometimes it is hard to be sure that what the news is reporting is always true. I think that it is good to have foreign reporters reporting U.S. news because they may know more background and history about the country they are reporting on. I do think it is a problem about getting foreign news from bloggers because you cannot be sure they are getting their information from credible sources, but it does get more people to be aware of what is going on in the world. I think that the war, the problems in Darfur and Guatemala should be getting more media coverage because many people do not know the details of what is going on in these countries right now since they are not happening on U.S soil. Sometimes I feel like the public is kept in the dark and only shown the glamorous parts of foreign news so as to keep the people from rising up and getting angry.

           

          By, Katrina Christenson

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          Aubrie Carinder

          Graber chapter 11

          March 30, 2009

           

          In this chapter Graber focused on the overall significance that the U.S. media and citizens assign to news about foreign countries.  Graber had information from studies that said only half of the respondents of a study claimed to watch international news on a routine basis.  Even with the rise in Internet, the significance on international news was rarely profound.  Print and electronic media still give international news considerable coverage.  Graber talked about the “gatekeepers” in media and how the combination of advancing technologies and the globalization of news has changed the meaning of gatekeeper for news making.  Even though foreign correspondents reported much of the news available in the US, these journalists are becoming an extinct breed said Graber.  Graber said that easy and cheap international travel costs are helping media send correspondents abroad for shorter jaunts to report about particular events that are happening.  Graber claims the largest group of foreign correspondents are nonprofessionals who use web sites to report their observations from abroad or from their U.S. locations.    Graber also talked about the international beat systems and how they are similar to local beats.  According to Graber international news, much like local or domestic news is selected primarily for audience appeal rather than for political significance. 

           

          Gate keeping has always been a very important concept in the journalism field.  Gatekeepers have the power to withhold or promote an event or situation that can have a vital impact on a society.  For example, during the Vietnam War, the US government was acting as a gatekeeper when they were holding press conferences and only telling the media what they wanted to American people to know.  By not telling the US citizens the entire truth about the war that was going on overseas, they were able to create public approval for the war in their favor.  This is just one example of how gate keeping can play a very important role when it is used while covering foreign affairs.

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          Erin Krohn

          Reading Response

          3/30/09

          Foreign Affair Coverage

          In chapter 11, Graber explains the media coverage of foreign affairs. Americans do not seek out foreign news although it is given considerable coverage. In order for foreign news to be published, it “must have a more profound impact on the political, economic, or cultural concerns of the United States than domestic news” (319). There are four major wire services that collect information on foreign news; the Associated Press, Britain’s Reuters, France’s Agence France-Presse and the ITAR from Russia. These services provide news to a number of countries at the same time and must produce accurate and unbiased news. Increases in cost to send journalists overseas have also led to the use of “parachute” journalist. Parachute journalists travel overseas when issues take place and report back to Americans from the scene. Foreign travel to report on news events also involves a large level of danger and risk because the journalists are sometimes traveling into unsafe locations. Few journalists are willing to travel into harm’s way and thus focus on areas where there is public support. By not reporting in all parts of the world, it does lead to a bias in the news and uneven news coverage from different parts of the world. Web sites are becoming an important tool for journalists as they serve as an information source. There are many types of foreign correspondents. U.S. born foreign correspondents have an inability to communicate in anything other than English. They have to depend on translated newspapers and such in order to communicate.

          Military censorship is a problem for journalists although “embedded” journalism introduced in 2003 was successful.  There are questions of whether or not the journalists can stay objective in “embedded” journalism though. Some flaws in the gatekeeping of foreign affairs include the fact that the media gives good frames to its own country and allies, and bad frames to their enemies. News also only covers events and not the history and meaning of the event. There is an over-emphasis on conflict which “neglects major social problems” (338). Foreign affairs coverage supports stereotypes about the world. Media often emphasizes “the government’s positions until many respected sources voice strong dissent” (341). The CNN effect can also force the U.S government into action that is unplanned and undesired.

          When reading all of the four articles, I personally connected to the third article, “Reporting the Gulf War.” It’s difficult to avoid images of the war. In some ways, I support the government concealing facts and images from the public in order to protect them, for panic may occur and or a loss of hope and support of what the troops are actually doing overseas. However, I do feel that media should provide the honest facts to the public, for it is important to know what is really going on.

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