Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Conceptual Models of Media Diplomacy: For the Resolution of International Communication Conflict

Academic journal article International Journal of Communication Research

Conceptual Models of Media Diplomacy: For the Resolution of International Communication Conflict

Article excerpt


Diplomacy used to represent the exclusive sphere for the international political elite until the emergence of mass media, which began to prevail in the 1950s, with the end of World War II and the advent of the Cold War. Since then, U.S. media have played a critical role in becoming an instrument of international mediation or resolution for conflict, by serving in the international diplomatic field. The media as a driving force for introducing the birth of a new diplomacy from the traditional diplomacy vigorously covered prominent international issues, such as the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War, and the Iranian Embassy hostage crisis in the Cold War era. The main objectivity of such coverage was to inform global citizens about U.S. and foreign governments' foreign policies.

Traditional diplomacy, which assumed to elicit a mutual agreement among nations through secret, formal, and interpersonal relationships, faded away as the new diplomacy, stimulated by the media and development of communication, required diplomats and policy makers to cooperate with journalists and the public. As a result, media exposure would have an impact on international relations that introduced a new form of communicative interactions between traditional diplomacy and media. In relation with such a trend, former U.S. diplomat Edmund Gullion in 1965 coined the term public diplomacy and defined it as "the influence of public attitudes on the formation and execution of foreign policies ... with the transnational flow of information and idea" (HUKIL, 2015).

The transformation from traditional diplomacy to public diplomacy led to new reasons for building up a relationship between journalists and government personnel, such as politicians, diplomats, government officials, and military officers. Government officials discerned the usefulness of using the media and reporters for creating foreign policy and disseminating it to other nations, as they knew the media would tend to select international pseudo events, succinctly staged, to gain publicity and form public opinion. Meanwhile, journalists paid gradual attention to government's foreign policy and international conflicts in response to the development of communication technologies, which resulted in media intervention in international conflict-resolution processes with open discourses of foreign issues to the public. Such processes were fully exposed in the media from the inception of conflict to the end of resolution as a means of adaptation of public diplomacy.

Whereas traditional diplomacy mainly depended on the formal and clandestine profession of diplomats, to either antagonize or coddle international relations between sovereign nations, public diplomacy consists of diverse elements including the media, domestic and international institutions, interest groups and public opinion, to maintain mutual international interests. However, the diversity of elements that form public diplomacy is likely to undervalue the power of the media which is placed under a subcategory of the elements that constitute public diplomacy. In other words, it is commonly acknowledged that the media are considered as merely "a part of the process in the communication between governments and publics" about public diplomacy (KUNCZIK, 2003).

Public diplomacy in the last half of the century became a salient international field of practice and study, when it was recognized by massive public opinion, formed by the media and the political elite during the Cold War era, which stirred ideological conflict in international relations (GILBOA, 1998). Despite the end of WWII and of the Cold War, and of the advent of the 21st century with the 9/11 era of war on terror, the concept and functions of public diplomacy have not been clearly classified yet, as numerous public diplomacy-related publications show that many confused scholars referred to public diplomacy as synonyms with public affairs, international affairs, TV diplomacy, international public relations, media diplomacy, global relations, psychological operation, or even still propaganda (GILBOA, 2008). …

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