The CNN Effect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy, and Intervention

The CNN Effect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy, and Intervention

The CNN Effect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy, and Intervention

The CNN Effect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy, and Intervention

Synopsis

The CNN Effect examines the relationship between the state and media. It considers the role played by the news reporting in a series of 'humanitarian' interventions in Iraq, Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo and Rwanda. Piers Robinson challenges traditional views of media subservience and argues that sympathetic news coverage at key moments in foreign crises can influence the response of Western governments.

Excerpt

Since the end of the Cold War the increasing willingness of Western governments to intervene militarily during humanitarian crises, coupled with significant levels of Western media attention to the human consequences of 'distant' civil wars, raises substantive questions regarding the media-state relationship. Specifically, it is commonly argued that intervention during the humanitarian crises in northern Iraq (1991) and Somalia (1992) were partially driven by news media coverage of suffering people, the 'CNN effect'. the principal aim of this study is to examine the assumptions lying behind the cnn effect by conducting a search for evidence of news media influence on intervention during humanitarian crises. the study does not offer a multi-factor assessment of what causes intervention, although due consideration is given throughout to the multitude of reasons why intervention might occur. Rather the focus is on one variable, the media, which are widely understood to play an important role in influencing US-led intervention. Understanding what motivates the us to act is central to understanding the cnn effect because the majority of forcible interventions have occurred under the command and leadership of the us. the study offers substantive conclusions regarding the significance of news media influence on intervention and explains why news media can come to affect government policy-making. As such the research findings are of value to those in humanitarian and foreign policy circles, those who seek to harness the potential of news media to facilitate humanitarian action or to 'control' the unwanted intrusion of the news media. in addition to assessing news media influence upon intervention decisions, this study also has the important aim of developing a theoretical two-way understanding of the direction of influence between the news media and the state (the 'policy-media interaction model'). This model forms the core of my analysis of the cnn effect and contributes to our understanding of media-state relations. As such this study is also of value to those interested in broader debates over media-state relations and news media power in the post-Cold War 'real-time tv' environment.

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