Press Freedom and Global Politics

Article excerpt

Press Freedom and Global Politics. Douglas A. Van Belle. Westport, CT: Praeger, 2000. 184 pp. $59.95 hbk.

In spite of scholars' firm belief and enthusiasm about press freedom in the United States, and ample finding of the free press's association with democracy worldwide, little research has ever empirically examined the impact press freedom may generate on international politics. So, this book fills a gap. It acutely addresses the connection between press freedom and international relations, a welcome undertaking that should prove to be a pivotal contribution to the area of international communication.

This book follows a traditional reporting format of social scientific research. The research question of press freedom's hypothesized influence on international relations is first introduced. The next two chapters discuss in detail about the rationale and conceptual foundation of the assumptions and hypotheses. Then, four distinct models (each runs a chapter) are presented, which use press freedom, among other variables, to predict the chance of either militarized conflict or transnational cooperation. A short conclusion chapter sums up the findings of the study.

One of the great strengths of this study is that it quantifies abstract variables such as level of press freedom and systematically examines time-series data across all the countries in the world with pertinent statistical methods. In addition, the work presents an exemplar interdisciplinary study that adroitly bridges two distinct yet highly intertwined fields: journalism and political science. The body of relevant political studies presented in the book-characteristics and magnitude of transnational interaction in relation to two countries' bilateral press system-is particularly useful to communication scholars who might not otherwise be familiar with it.

This study indicates that when press freedom is shared, the likelihood of two disagreeing countries resolving their conflict with war is substantially abated. The chance of bloodshed increases when either of the contending countries does not enjoy press freedom. …