Media Impact on Foreign Policy and Diplomacy in the UK
Disclaimer: This dissertation has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by our professional dissertation writers. You can view samples of our professional work here.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of UK Essays.
Modern diplomacy has developed over the last four hundred years, adapting to changes in governments, communication, and most recently, technology. In addition, the changing communication scene in the diplomatic realm has led to the global media occupying a more and more prominent role in international diplomacy and foreign policy negotiation.
Whilst this is typically evident in conflict situations, thisresearch considers its impact on economic situations, most notably thereluctance of the UK to accept the euro, as well. The media is foundto both influence and be influenced by diplomatic and foreign policy practise regarding the adoption of the euro, and Britain’s integration into the European Union.
Diplomacy as we know it today is a constantly evolving practise. Historically conducted by professional representatives of sovereign states, usually in residence at various cities of global significance, changes in communication and technology over the past one hundred years have dramatically affected the way diplomacy is conducted. The global news media has emerged, particularly with the increased popularity of television in the past fifty years and now the internet, as a non-state actor in foreign policy. As the media as a whole neither represents or belongs to one sovereign state, this has caused a loss of control over information by diplomatic bodies, as well as changes in the role of public opinion and real-time information in diplomatic negotiations.
The media is said to exert what is called the CNN Effect, that is, that reporting certain stories in certain manners influences the public and politicians of a given nation, causing them to address an issue that might not otherwise be addressed, act more quickly, or simply “do something” in response to media coverage. Whilst there is some empirical and other data to support this role of the media, other roles of the media as a global actor must also be considered. For example, governments can use and even manipulate the media to present a certain view or gain support in other countries, and foreign policy and diplomacy methods and practises in turn have an impact on the media itself. These influences are most prevalent in situations regarding conflict and economic consequences, with conflict situations typically considered as part of research into the role of the media in diplomacy and foreign policy.
This dissertation seeks to consider the media’s role in current economic issues in the United Kingdom. Specifically, the ongoing drive to move the UK to the euro as its single currency, and the implications of this move or lack of move on the UK’s role and participation in the European Union will be considered. The use of the media by other European players and pro-Europe and pro-euro groups within the UK will be examined, with specific reference to the time period in which Chancellor Browne developed and announced the five tests that Britain would require for acceptance of the currency, from 1997 to 2003. The use of the media by those opposed to the euro and greater UK participation in Europe will also be examined, as will the government’s use of the media regarding the issue and possible referendum. Finally, the media’s impact on public opinion, foreign policy, and diplomacy regarding the euro and EU, with attention to the differences between media organisations that support or oppose, will be examined.
As this dissertation seeks to consider the impact of the media on foreign policy and diplomacy, it is helpful to begin by considering thedefinitions and history of each, and the relationship between the two.They are often confused. Foreign policy is much broader and morestraightforward; it involves the official intentions and practices ofone sovereign nation in relation to the others around the world.Gilboa (2002, 732) further explains, providing a context for diplomacyas a practice within foreign policy. Basically, a nation firstconsiders and decides upon various policy options, positions, methods,and tactics, based primarily on influences, wants and needs from itsdomestic environment. The nation then moves into the second phase offoreign policy, interaction and diplomacy, which “entails implementingpolicies toward other actors, presenting positions and demands decidedin the earlier stage, and seeking solutions through confrontation,negotiation, or a combination of both” (Gilboa 2002, 732). Diplomacyis then a method or means by which foreign policy is implemented, andsometimes revised.
The concept of diplomacy may be further narrowed. Berridge (1995, 1)defines diplomacy as “the conduct of international relations bynegotiation rather than by force, propaganda, or recourse to law, andby other peaceful means such as gather information or engenderinggoodwill which are either directly or indirectly designed to promotenegotiation.” Watson (1984, 33) defines diplomacy as “negotiationbetween political entities which acknowledge each other’sindependence.” Gilboa (2001, 1) describes the term as primarilyapplying to international negotiation, “a communication system throughwhich representatives of states and international or global actors,including elected and appointed officials, express and defend theirinterests, state their grievances, and issue threats and ultimatums.”As such it can serve both as a means of contact, of clarifyingpositions, of gathering and seeking out information, and of bringingother actors on the international stage to support a particularposition (Gilboa 2001, 1).
Diplomacy “seeks to create a favourable image for a country’s policies,actions, and political and economic system, assuming that if publicopinion in the target society is persuaded to accept that image, itwill exert pressure on its government to alter existing, hostile,attitudes and policy” (Gilboa 2001, 5). It purposes to “either searchfor a compromise, or else transcend the dispute and to bring in a newelement that makes a wider agreement palatable to both sides” (Watson1984, 69). “Diplomacy is about what to do before one reaches the pointwhere resort is made to these other mechanisms, about extending theperiod up to that point as fast as possible and, once it is nonethelessreached, of maintaining dialogue with a view to resorting to thedialogical mode at the earliest possibility” (Neumann 2001, 16).
Diplomacy as it is practised today began in the 1400s in Italy, thefirst location of embassies representing various foreign countries(Berridge 1995, 1). Soon after, other European countries began to hostpermanent, resident embassies in their capitals and prominent cities(Berridge 1995, 2). This replaced the earlier practise of dispatchingenvoys only to deal with particular situations or tasks, andrepresented the increasing economic and cultural interaction betweenthe various cities and countries of Europe. Having a residentambassador allowed more influence due to a continuous role and anopportunity for gathering information useful to their principals. Italso opened the door for quiet negotiations, the kind not possible whenspecial envoys were dispatched (Berridge 1995, 2-3).
The practise of diplomacy, at least through the end of the First WorldWar, was based on several governing principles. The first, originallyarticulated by Machiavelli in the early 1500s, was that the objectiveof all foreign negotiations and communication was to advance theinterests of the principals the ambassadors or diplomats represented.Machiavelli saw the objective of a sovereign as to retain his realm andpossessions (Neumann 2001, 19). The diplomat was required, therefore,to have an intimate understanding of the character, wishes and bestinterests of his sovereign. The diplomat was responsible for beingknowledgeable of past, current and potential events, to keep openchannels of communication that would facilitate this flow ofinformation, and offer information in a reciprocal way that bothencouraged this communication and simultaneously advanced the aims ofhis principal (Machiavelli 1522/2002, 176). As he put it in a letterto a friend leaving to take an ambassadorship in Spain, “becomefriendly with all of them in order to worm out of each of them whatthey know” (Machiavelli 1522/2002, 176).
Although diplomacy is a practise of communication and negotiationwithout resorting to the force of law, there were and are protocols andrules governing it. Grotius argued in the fifteenth century that“sovereign states can be fully and truly legitimate only if theyacknowledge the duties they owe to each other and to a common humanityby acting in accordance with the customary rules” of diplomacy andinternational law (Bacchus 2001, 3). When nations interact with eachother in a civilised fashion, they naturally develop such a “law ofnations,” that is, “law that is developed by the collective will of allor many nations, and that draws its obligatory force from the combinedwill of all or many nations” (Bacchus 2001, 3). Functional diplomacy,therefore, requires that actors in the diplomatic community, bothindividuals and nation-states, must have mutual respect for eachothers’ rights. “This is a notion that assumes a single humanity, acommon humanity that transcends the artificial and ever-changing limitsof national borders, and that binds us together above and beyond allthe boundaries of nationality, race, religion, or any other superficialdistinction that might somehow obscure our basic oneness” (Bacchus2001, 3).
Protocols amongst those in diplomatic circles were often ceremonial andcomplex, used to stroke the egos of the sending and host countries’rulers, flatter allies, and promote final decisions (Bettridge 1995,5). Many diplomats were professionals, and the diplomaticrepresentatives from a variety of countries resident in one city oftenfunctioned as a unified “diplomatic corps” with its own rules andprocedures. This further allowed the professional ambassadors todevelop relationships with and understandings of each other, whichoften greatly facilitated communication and negotiation between theirvarious resident missions (Bettridge 1995, 8-9). Most consulrepresentatives additionally functioned as part of the aristocraticclass of that particular city, further reinforcing their relationshipswith each other (Bettridge 1995, 13).
Another primary feature of diplomacy prior to the end of the firstWorld War was secrecy. By keeping both the fact and content ofdiplomacy out of the public eye, diplomats were able to walk away fromtalks when necessary, reveal weaknesses or areas lacking clarity whereappropriate, and package the final results of negotiations in a waythat appeared as a “win” for their side. Concessions were not requiredto be explained, nor positions defended until a final settlement wasachieved, greatly freeing participants to pursue alternate negotiationoptions (Berridge 1995, 4-5). In addition, diplomats had much greatercontrol of the information available to other parties involved in anegotiation, and could use the expression of such information, or lackthereof, to their advantage. According to Machiavelli “if you havesomething to hide, you should possess of great skills to see that itdoes not come to light” (Machiavelli 1522/20 02, 175).
This changed following the First World War, when Woodrow Wilson andothers proposed openly arrived at communications, proceeding “alwaysfrankly and in the public view” (Gilboa 2001, 1). This “newdiplomacy” was adopted across the international arena, and secrecy ismuch more rare and less prized in diplomacy today, even though itseffectiveness is still recognised. For example, Europe’s Organisationfor Security and Cooperation’s High Commissioner on National Minoritiescontends that lack of media coverage is often an advantage because itallows invisible and quiet behind-the-scenes diplomacy to be used,which he considers the key to successful prevention of internationalconflict (Jakobsen 2000, 139). As far as negotiations are concerned,little has changed as far as options for settling a dispute in the pastfour hundred years. Grotius laid out the best possible methods forpeaceful settlement of conflict as a nego tiation leading to aresolution, where there is compromise on the part of some or all of theparties involved (Chen 2005). This typically now happens in a muchmore public forum than was the practise even a hundred years ago.
A final principle governing the practise of diplomacy is credibilityand honesty. Obviously, those involved in a negotiation must assume atleast some honestly and commitment on the part of others participating,of the whole thing is simply a waste of time. In this arena, diplomacymay be helped by an increase in public involvement, as it helps to keepall the players both honest and committed. In situations where thehonesty or intentions of players is suspect, as Wight (1979, 89)describes, ‘politics tend to break down the important distinctionbetween diplomacy and espionage’, and between diplomacy andpropaganda. “Diplomacy is the attempt to adjust conflicting interestsby negotiation and compromise; propaganda is the attempt to sway theopinion that underlies and sustains the interests” (Wight 1979, 89).Therefore, whilst the three basic functions of diplomacy areinformation, negotiation, and communication, in less than honestsituations, the functions of diplomacy are often perverted, emerging asespionage, subversion and propaganda (Wight 1979, 115-117). This ismore difficult in a non-secret diplomatic setting.
A final wrinkle in the changing face of diplomacy, and the focus ofthis dissertation, is the emergence in the past century of the globalmedia as a separate and distinct player in both diplomacy and greaterforeign policy and affairs. It is widely recognised that the globalnews media have affected both the policy-making and the interactivephases of foreign policy (Gilboa 2002, 732). Some politicians andjournalists have even suggested “the convergence of the revolutionarychanges in politics and communication has created a new media-dominatedgoverning system” (Gilboa 2001, 3). “Modern diplomacy, once a largelyone-dimensional, nation-to-nation process, is now a multi-dimensionalenterprise in which so-called ‘non-state’ actors and foreign publicsplay an increasingly prominent role” (Ross 2003, 22).
Governments can and do purposefully use various media to send messagesto other international actors. In this sense, they are harnessing thepower of the media to promote their own foreign policies (Gilboa 2001,10). Often called media diplomacy, this “refers to officials’ uses ofthe media to communicate with state and nonstate actors, to buildconfidence and advance negotiations, and to mobilize public support foragreements. Media diplomacy is pursued through various routine andspecial media activities including press conferences, interviews andleaks, as well as visits of heads of state and mediators to rivalcountries and spectacular media events organised to user in new policyeras” (Gilboa 2001, 10).
This new form of diplomacy is one of “direct communication with foreignpeoples, with the aim of affecting their thinking and, ultimately, thatof their governments” (Gilboa 2001, 4). Some countries have even begunh iring public relations firms, particularly in the US and Europe, tosway opinion in favour of their governments (Gilboa 2001, 5-6).“Policies can still be forged in private, confidential talks amongprofessional diplomats, much as they were 200 years ago, but no policyinitiative can succeed over the long term without the understanding andsupport of multiple foreign publics and other non-state actors” (Ross2003, 22).
2b.The CNN Effect
Whilst historically diplomacy took place between diplomats and theirrepresentative nation-states, the past decades have seen a new playeremerge on the global stage. As Gilboa (2002, 731) contends, “thecommunication and information revolutions of the 20th century havefundamentally and irreversibly changed the meaning of power ininternational relations, the making of policy in defense and foreignaffairs, and the conduct of diplomacy.” Changes in media availabilityand immediacy, primarily from television and the internet, “havealtered the meaning of power in contemporary world politics,” now it is“a nation or leader’s image and control of information flow, and notjust their military and economic power, that help determine theirstatus in the international community” (Gilboa 2001, 2). Governmentscan now gain information from the media in additional to traditio nalinformation sources. However, the public is also provided with thisinformation simultaneously. In this way, the media influencesdiplomacy through both direct impact on government representatives andby informing and directing information to the general public.
The impact of the media on information availability cannot beunderestimated. Europeans consistently identify the media, primarilytelevision and newspapers with increasing reliance on the internet, astheir most important sources for information, with “more than sixty percent of the citizens across the EU member states naming television newsand forty per cent naming daily newspapers as the most importantsources for acquiring information about European affairs” (de Vreese2004, 47; Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter 2000, 121). The number anddiversity of media outlets is also increasing. The past two decadeshave seen a shift from public broadcasting to commercial broadcastingof news in Great Britain. Significantly, this has led to an increasedpressure for ratings and viewership, which some contend has changed thenature and substance of television news reporting in the country(Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter 2000, 122). The EU ote s “TelevisionWithout Frontiers” Green Paper, published in 1984, and updated in 1997,sought to “open national borders for a flow of television programmescreating a single market for broadcasting, unhindered by nationallegislation” (Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter 2000, 123).
Particularly significant in the global impact of television journalismare two channels, CNN and BBC World, both “key 24-hour news networkswatched in newsrooms, diplomatic enclaves and middle-class homes acrossthe globe” (Thussu 2002, 206). CNN alone is available to over 800million people worldwide; the CNN News Group includes six cable andsatellite television networks, two radio networks, fourteen websitesclaiming almost twenty-five million hits a day, and the world’s mostextensive syndicated news service, which includes 42 bureaus and morethan 200 international affiliates. The CNN International cable andtelevision broadcasts “can be seen in more than 160 million televisionhouseholds in 212 countries and territories across the world through anetwork of 23 satellites” (Thussu 2002, 207). The other global mediagiant, although not nearly with the reach of CNN, is BBC World, theBritish Broadcasting Corporatio n’s 24-hour global news and informationchannel, which is available for viewing in more than 167 million homesin over 200 countries globally (Thussu 2002, 206). The power of thesenews media outlets is such that “even US adversaries, such as Iraq in1991 and Serbia in 1999, continued to allow CNN broadcasts during theconflict” (Thussu 2002, 206).
The “CNN Effect” is a theory that “claims that in international crisissituations global television has become the dominating actor in theconduct of foreign policy, replacing elected and appointed policymakers” (Gilboa 2002, 732). This theory is based on the testimoniesfrom major policy makers in several recent political crises that theirdecisions were impacted by global television (Gilboa 2002, 733). Forexample, media pressure has been directly linked to John Major’sdecision to overrule his advisors and intervene in Iraq; one of hisadvisors is quoted that the Prime Minister was “panicked by newspaperheadlines” in the situation (Jakobsen 2000, 134). The CNN Effectcontends that the media covers some situation of suffering and/oratrocity, and through such coverage and the way it is presentedjournalists and opinion leaders are able to assert that Westerngovernments must respond. The public pressur e for some sort of actionin response to the situation grows, until the government is forced tobecome involved (Jakobsen 2000, 132). The result is that officialshave lost at least some policy control to various global media, andleaders “no longer make decisions on the basis of interests but ratherare driven by emotional public opinion aroused by television coverage”(Gilboa 2002, 734).
Global media involvement has fundamentally changed the focus with whichinternational actors respond to international issues. The immediateresponse required by the CNN Effect unfortunately has been documentedto cause global actors to emphasise short-term crisis management andemergency relief as a response, rather than focus on “long-term effortsdirected at preventing violent conflict and rebuilding war-tornsocieties” (Jakobsen 2000, 133). In most situations, emergencyhumanitarian assistances is used in place of effective (and more costlyto the West) “long-term engagement that is aimed at addressing the rootcauses of the crisis” (Jakobsen 2000, 139). “The selective nature ofthe media’s conflict coverage creates another problem because fundsfollow the cameras” (Jakobsen 2000, 139). When media coverage moves onto the next crisis, funds are typically withdrawn, leaving the area ina situation of oft en as great a need as before the media beganreporting. In addition, there are so many crisis situations andhumanitarian needs worldwide that the media is usually slow to cover aspecific incident until it becomes violent or mass starvation or someother catastrophe has killed large numbers of people (Jakobsen 2000,133). In addition, even extreme conflicts may not be covered at all orin a very limited scope, with the “silent emergencies” far outnumbering“louder” or more violent situations (Jakobsen 2000, 133).
Another documented result of the involvement of the global media indiplomacy has been the change in speed with which decisions must now bemade. When communications are received, decisions must be soonforthcoming, or the world will see the players in the decision-makingprocess as weak or undecided. However, policy makers would often dowell if allowed more time to make important international decisions.They often no longer have that option. “In an age of satellitetelevision and the internet, policy messages must be not only accurate,but fast. Silence is a vacuum that the media will fill with someoneelse’s viewpoint” if policy makers or government actors do notparticipate (Ross 2003, 24). Further, foreign policy and negotiationsmust be constantly communicated in a way that the public can access,not just more knowledgeable diplomatic personnel. In today’s world ofglobal communication, policy makers must recognize that te a policythat cannot be explained clearly and understandably, to many differentaudiences, is not sustainable” (Ross 2003, 22). According to USAmbassador Christopher Ross, foreign policy and public diplomacy havebecome “inextricable and integrated throughout the process of policyformation and implementation” (Ross 2003, 22). “It is equally vital tosystematically address the slower pulse of public attitudes, to connectwith human emotions and perceptions where our values and worldviewsreside most deeply” (Ross 2003, 23).
A number of research studies, however, have concluded that globaltelevision is only truly a controlling actor when there is significantpolicy uncertainty and need of framing of a particular situation orcrisis (Gilboa 2002, 735). That is, whilst the media can influence theissues of highest priority to the general public and the speed andmanner in which they are addressed, the media has not been shown toactively influence the broader policy decisions of governments.Jakobsen (2000, 138) concludes that most of the time, “the impact ofmedia coverage on Western conflict management is less direct than theCNN Effect argument suggests.” General consensus now holds that themedia typically acts as a constraining actor, where the media can forcepolicy makers to address an issue but not control their ultimate policydecision (Gilboa 2002, 736).
Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter (2000, 136) quote Bernard Cohen that “thepress may not be successful much of the time in telling people what tothink, but it is stunningly successful in telling people what to thinkabout.” They further cite a study of more than 200 investigations intothe influence of the news media as an agenda-setter and conclude thereis ample empirical evidence “that the visibility of an issue in thenews influences the perceived importance of that issue by the public”(Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter 2000, 136). “What is available in themedia and most readily accessible in people’s minds is given greaterweight in the formulation of evaluations” (Semetko, de Vreese, andPeter 2000, 137). The media provides context, or framing, for issuesin the minds of the public. That is, media organisations selectparticular aspects of a situation, thereby excluding others, “organizesthose aspects around a central idea, and thus, puts emphasises on howto look at and interpret those aspects” (Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter2000, 137).
As the public is directed in what to think about, they further use thiscriteria in making a number of evaluations, such as the effectivenessof their government and leaders, the appropriate course of action fortheir country, and the most pressing issues of the day. “Primingtheory posits that public evaluations of political leaders are made onthe basis of how leaders perform on issues that are on the top ofcitizens’ mind when they are formulating their evaluation” (de Vreese2004, 45). “The information provided by the media, in particular thenews media, is a key source of information and cues for citizens…citizens rely on information that is most easily brought to mind andthis information is largely dependent on media content” (de Vreese2004, 46). The theory contends that citizens form and express theirevaluations based on the most “newly acquired and readily accessibleinformation,” givin g the media with a late-breaking story substantialopportunity for impact (de Vreese 2004, 47).
This introduces the idea of “framing,” that the media not only controlsthe topics at the forefront of public consideration but provides acontext for the general public to understand and process these issues.Framing consists of two components: first, the media decides howissues will be presented and covered in the news. This is usually basedon economic concerns, which will be addressed shortly. They do so in aplanned way, encouraging viewers to perceive, organize, and interpretissues or events in a particular manner (de Vreese, Peter and Semetko2001, 107). Certain aspects of the issue or event are included andemphasised, others are excluded or deemphasised, to present the viewingpublic with a context for becoming involved or interested in the issueor event (de Vreese, Peter and Semetko 2001, 108). “Previousinvestigations of frames in the news have a strong ethnocentric bias,both in terms of the issues examined an d the geographical focus of thestudies… the contents and effects of the news media is often based onnational studies, suffering somewhat from “naive universalism” byoffering general theoretical propositions based on single-country data(de Vreese, Peter and Semetko 2001, 108).
Frames emphasising conflict and economic consequences have beenconsistently found to be the most common frames used by the media, asthey are the ones most likely to encourage continued or repeatviewership (de Vreese, Peter and Semetko 2001, 109). Conflict frameshighlight “disagreement between individuals, institutions, or countriesand emphasizes the points of divergence between conflicting parties…The presence of conflict is consistently listed as one of the mostimportant criteria for identifying which events will become newsstories” (de Vreese, Peter and Semetko 2001, 110). Frames of economicconsequences concentrate on the “bottom line” of economic advantage,and news producers “often use the consequence frame to make an issuerelevant to their audience” and therefore increase viewership orreadership (de Vreese, Peter and Semetko 2001, 109-110).
The framing and issue choice based on commercial considerations, thatis what stories will sell the most papers or encourage the mostviewers, has been documented to “act as a blocking mechanism againstnews events that cannot be sold,” and often lead to a “distortedpresentation of events to make them more marketable” (Thussu 2002,211). For example, historical evidence shows that wars, particularlyshort, bloody wars, are generally good news stories for papers and inparticular for television networks (Thussu 2002, 210). “Televisinglive conflict can be particularly profitable if it concerns a patrioticwar” (Thussu 2002, 210). However, “media coverage of a conflict isnext to impossible to sustain unless Western troops are killed ormassacres of civilians occur” (Jakobsen 2000, 135). In addition, thoseconflicts closest geographically and culturally to the West, and thosewith some eco nomic influence are also most likely to receivecoverage. On the other hand, “International news channels andnewspapers pay little attention to the successes of preventivediplomacy” (Jakobsen 2000, 134).
2c.Using the Media in Diplomacy
In addition to simply responding to the media’s actions or coverage ofevents, governments and state-actors in the international arena havelearned to use the media to further their own diplomatic agendas. Thebest examples of this come from the United States, who has made almosta science of using the media to advance its intended policies and shapeopinion regarding them (Gilboa 2001, 10). They first began thesystematic supplying of the media with diplomatic and foreign policyinformation in the 1960s, instituting a regular use of the pressconference as a way to present the government’s positions and plans tothe public (Gilboa 2001, 5). This is often combined with carefullygranted interviews, in which various officials speak on specific topicwith media personnel, guaranteeing a topic will be covered in thenightly news and papers (Gilboa 2001, 10). For example, in the firstGulf War and the 1994 intervention in Haiti, the United States government used the news media to legitimate its policies, rather thanhaving been driven by the news media to take action (Jakobsen 2000,134).
Governments also use the media to advance their policies and viewsthrough limiting or granting access to various members of the media.For example, when Tony Blair travels to Brussels, certain members ofthe media are typically invited to accompany him and thereby grantedincreased access to his agenda and plans. This allows them to reportstories other media outlets may not have access to, but at the sametime is used by government officials to control or at least influencethe stories being put forth (Jakobsen 2000, 135). Henry Kissinger,former Secretary of State in the US, was one of the first diplomats toregularly allow a group of reporters to accompany him on his officialduties, and Kissinger is recognised as a master of information controlwho used these media representatives to both his own and the UnitedStates’ advantage in foreign negotiations (Gilboa 2002, 739).
In addition to providing increased access to a select group ofreporters, the United States government has also been documented to usestrategic leaks, another way governments can manipulate the media intoreports they desire to be advanced. Again, in a leak situation themedia representative or outlet receiving the leak has a story notavailable to their competition, which is potentially profitable forthem. The officials providing the leak can then refuse responsibilityfor the information being advanced, whilst obtaining their objective atthe same time (Gilboa 2002, 740). Sometimes officials use leaks topromote their own agendas, or at least agendas at odds with the party’sin power. For example, leaks regarding Tony Blair’s concern regardingRupert Murdoch were leaked to the press, and eventually became part ofa Channel 4 documentary entitled “Blair’s Year.” The documentarystates “Blair feels he has to convert Mu rdoch before he calls areferendum… The Prime Minister ruled out attempting to take Britaininto the single currency before the next election after being told itwould turn Murdoch’s newspapers, especially The Sun, against NewLabour” (Mullen and Burkitt 2003, 330). Interestingly, this decisionwas apparently made without consulting the Cabinet, but only based onmedia interests and power (Mullen and Burkitt 2003, 330). Mr. Blairwill supposedly not pursue traditional communication channels ofnegotiation with Europe and within the UK if it means risking mediabacklash.
Many governments also sponsor various media outlets designed to promotetheir views and desired images directly to foreign publics, who, it ishoped, will be swayed in their opinions and exert pressure on theirgovernments to behave or react accordingly (Gilboa 2001, 4).Particularly during the Cold War, both East and West providedgovernment-funded media outlets, such as Radio Free Europe and RadioLiberty (Anon 2005). These media “news” channels were specificallydesigned to promote the views and policies of one of the sides to theothers’ public (Anon 2005). As such, they were vehicles designed toultimately influence foreign policy and diplomatic relations.
Sometimes state-actors in international diplomacy situations will evenuse the media in place of traditional communication channels. One ofthe most famous examples of use of the media to communicate a directmessage to another leader and people occurred during the response toIraq’s invasion of Kuwait in 1990 (Gilboa 2002, 737). The UnitedStates Secretary of State, James Baker, did not use traditionaldiplomatic channels to communicate the allied intensions to SaddamHussein, preferring to address him via CNN (Gilboa 2002, 737). Thismade the address public for the world to see, strengthening the US andcoalition forces’ position through its directness, and also placed areal-time response requirement on the Iraqi government, who could notignore the communication, claim they did not receive it, or delay inaddressing it as may have been possible using traditional methods(Gilboa 2002, 737). In this way the United States government used CNNto direct its foreign policy and diplomacy, implementing the CNNEffect in policy actions against its rival.
In some cases, individual journalists have even become players in theforeign policy arena. One of the most stunning examples of such isagain from the US media, when then-anchor of their CBS nightly newsprogramme, Walter Cronkite, met with Egyptian Prime Minister Sadatregarding Egypt’s relationship with Israel (Gilboa 2002, 739). In anattempt to force the Egyptian leader to clarify his position on Israel,Cronkite began a series of questions regarding whether Sadat wouldagree to make an official visit to Israel, and when. Much toCronkite’s surprise, Sadat stated he only need an official invitation,and eventually agreed that he could leave in response to such aninvitation in as little as a week (Gilboa 2002, 739). Cronkitereferred this information back to then-leader of Israel, Mr. Begin, whopromptly issued a formal invitation, and the historic visit wasarranged (Gilboa 2002, 739).
Ted Koppel, also of the US press, later arranged a televised interviewbetween representatives of Israel and the Palestine LiberationOrganisation, the first meeting of the conflicting parties (Gilboa2002, 740). This represents an early case of a journalistintentionally becoming a non-state actor in foreign policy issues andusing the media for diplomatic purposes. Difficulties arise whenmembers of the media become diplomatic actors, however. On one hand,this may put them in an ethical dilemma, where they must actually notreport a story in order to continue to act as an information conduit,or go ahead and report the story, thereby destroying their credibilitywith the groups using them and possibly negatively effecting a globalsituation (Gilboa 2002, 740). When media representatives attempt topursue such courses on their own, they risk undermining the activitiesof legitimate diplomatic personnel, and can sidetrack or destroy a lineof negotiation through ignoranc e or lack of decorum regarding asituation (Gilboa 2002, 740).
2d.Diplomacy and Foreign Policy’s Affect on the Media
In addition to intentional use of the media as a tool in diplomacy andforeign policy, various decisions and practises in the two areas have areciprocal effect on the media itself. Use of the media, as describedabove, has changed in many ways the reporters do business. Byproviding limited access to only a few select media representatives andshutting out the competition, a government can influence the storiesthat those select media representatives will report, giving them a“scoop” on their rivals and increasing their potential viewer orreadership (Ramsay 2001, 323). Most Foreign Offices now have entiredepartments devoted to affecting the media, to “cultivate the mediaboth metropolitan and provincial,” to put forth the official views andopinions it wants the public to have, and to “detect which way themedia opinion is running” as this affects the other two areas (Ramsay2001, 324).
While diplomacy seeks to defuse and contain situations, avoidingconflict and even sometimes negotiation where possible, the aim of thenews media is to reveal or exploit such situations (Ramsay 2001, 324).As such, diplomats do have the opportunity to promote certain foreignpolicy initiatives for the media to chase, and when done well caneffectively influence the media’s story and coverage choices. Ramsay(2002, 325) notes, however, “it is manifestly not the media’s fault ifpoliticians decide to play the gallery and treat commentators and thepublic as their confidantes.” Politicians are aware of the effect oftheir actions on the media, and are therefore responsible for theresults of their actions on media response. In some situations thegovernment will even officially limit or control the media or mediacoverage of a given situation, such as in the case of militarymanoeuvres or war.
Foreign diplomacy, negotiation and communication amongst the diplomaticcorps, as discussed above, were built on long-term relationships.Often it was whom one knew and the relationship between parties thatpaved the way for successful discussion and decision (Ramsay 2001,323). Diplomats were even likely to marry from within the diplomaticcommunity in the cities where they were permanently dispatched (Ramsay2001, 324). With the introduction of professional journalists, manymembers of the news media began to develop similar relationships withthe officials and representatives they covered. As these friendshipsand relationships developed, they posed both an ethical dilemma forboth sides and a mirroring of the type of communication exchange commonformerly only between members of the diplomatic community (Ramsay 2001,324). For example, a certain diplomat might provide exclusiveinformation to a member of the media, who would then provide reciprocalexclusiv e information back to the diplomat.
In some cases, particularly trusted members of the media were evenpurposefully used as conduits where exclusive or secreted informationcould be exchanged between non-communicative parties, particularly inwar or conflict situations. Gilboa (2001, 19) contends “an experiencedjournalist, who enjoys the trust of high-level politicians orofficials, best knows how to protect secret negotiations from hiscolleagues;” he or she may have just as great an understanding of “theintricacies of negotiations as professional diplomats, and can executea diplomatic mission effectively (Gilboa 2001, 20). One of the mostdramatic incidences of such diplomatic participation by a journalistoccurred in the United States during the Cuban Missile Crisis in the1960s. The Soviets wanted to make a proposal to end the crisis, butwere concerned about losing face should the proposal be rejected. JohnScali, of the US’s ABC News, was well-known as an accura te andprofessional reporter with strong relationships to those within the USgovernment. The Soviets asked Scali to pass their proposal on to USofficials, which he did (Gilboa 2001, 20). He was then asked byPresident Kennedy to continue in his undercover mediating role, whichhe did.
In this type of case, the foreign affairs directly influence the mediarepresentatives, as Scali was constrained by the diplomacy in which hewas taking part and unable to report matters as perhaps he would haveliked. As a media representative, he in turn took on the traditionalrole of diplomatic envoy, carrying information back and forth betweenprincipals in the hope of achieving resolution (Gilboa 2001, 20).
This dissertation seeks to consider the effect of the media ondiplomacy and foreign affairs. Whilst previous research has oftendealt with conflict frames, and the impact of the media on conflictsituations, this study will consider the impact from an economicconsequence frame, with the understanding that if the media does indeedact as a constraining actor and agenda-setter, this should be true inthe coverage of issues framed in economic consequence as well asconflict. Two specific situations, the adoption of the euro by theUnited Kingdom and the UK’s role within the EU, were chosen as topicsof consideration. In preliminary research, there emerged threedistinct involvements of the media in the UK’s stance on the euro andthe EU, and each will be considered.
First, those opposed to the adoption of the euro and greaterparticipation in the EU, primarily groups within the UK, attempted touse the media to solidify public support in their camp, and putpressure on the government both to postpone a referendum on thecurrency and to draw back in its foreign policies aimed at greaterincorporation of the UK into the EU. In turn, members of the EuropeanUnion and Eurosupporters within the British commonwealth sought to usethe media to encourage public support of the single currency in theUK. This public support was intended to then be leveraged by thegovernment to allow greater EU participation on the part of Britain andan eventual referendum on adoption of the euro.
Various representatives of EU countries have also been publiclysupportive of decisions by the Blair administration that support theadoption of the euro and greater incorporation of the UK into the EU.Finally, the UK government itself also used the media to explain thecountry’s slow and/or lack of support for the euro and the EU to otherEuropean nations, and to frame the UK’s decisions in the most positiveand acceptable light to these other countries.
It is not possible in the scope of this research to consider all usesof the media by these various groups, or the holistic impact of themedia on such a complex issue. Rather, this research seeks to firstdocument a relationship between diplomacy and foreign policy on theeuro and EU and the British and European medias, if they exist, and toprovide representative examples supporting these findings, where theyoccur.
Examination of the use of media on both sides of the euro adoption,both as a domestic policy in the UK and as part of Britain’s foreigndiplomacy with Europe, reveals a significant media role. The media hasbeen a strong anti-euro, anti-EU actor in British domestic and foreignpolicy. For example, Christopher Booker, Telegraph columnist, has beena long-term opponent of the European Union, mainly due to what he seesas a negative impact on British business concerns. The EuropeanCommission and the Council of Ministers “churn out the ever-swellingtorrent of directives and regulations” and “manage to conceal what itis really up to” (Bilefsky 1998, 26). Use of the media by thoseagainst the euro and greater UK participation in the EU ledrepresentatives of Europe to begin to use the British and Europeanmedias to try to influence public opinion and government decisions.“It was above all Booker's work, amplified more garishly in thecolumns of the Sun, that drove the European Commission to set up aspecial "response unit" in Brussels to combat Euro-myths in the Britishpress” (Bilefsky 1998, 27). The anti-euro, anti-EU camp has long heldsway in public opinion. Over forty national public opinion polls havebeen held regarding the acceptance of the euro in the past decade, andall have consistently returned public support of the single currency atless than thirty percent, with disapproval at sixty percent or above(Mullen and Burkitt 2003, 324).
There is also evidence of pro-euro and pro-EU supporters using themedia to influence foreign policy and diplomatic relations betweenEurope and the UK. Specifically, various interest groups continue tobring the euro and EU to the forefront of British news, evidencing therole of the media in the situation, particularly in attempting togenerate public support. This public support was intended to then beleveraged by the government to allow greater EU participation on thepart of Britain and an eventual referendum on adoption of the euro. Inone example, Browne (2005, 15) describes how the European Commissionhas spent hundreds of thousands of pounds, which were not to be usedfor EU and euro promotion, on a "pro-constitution propaganda" campaignin the UK. This promotional programme was undertaken despite of theBritish Government’s promise that no European public money would bespent in the campaign for the euro referendum in Britain (Browne 2005,15). rThe Times investigated the scheme, revealing that the EuropeanCommission, over a period of a year, had been busy funding seminars,leafleting campaigns, theatre activities, and television spotsthroughout the country as part of an educational programme. The purposeof the programme was to provide various organisations such as schools,libraries, think-tanks, and local government groups with information onEurope and the euro (Browne 2005, 15). “Michael Ancram, Shadow ForeignSecretary, said "The fact that hundreds of thousands of pounds havealready been spent by the European Commission to promote theconstitution belies the Government's claim that 'not a single pennywill be spent' by them on pro-constitution propaganda... If Labour aresincere about making the referendum debate a fair one, they must getthe Commission to pledge that they will spend no more hard-workingtaxpayers' money on one-sided publicity for a document most Britishpeople oppose" (Browne 200 5, 15).
Various representatives of EU countries have also been publiclysupportive of decisions by the Blair administration that support theadoption of the euro and greater incorporation of the UK into the EU.Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder both gave positive assessments ofMr. Blair’s efforts to move the British towards referendum and eventualadoption of the euro (BBC 2002). Overwhelmingly, European pressreports presented in Britain at the launch of the euro enthusiasticallysupported both the currency and the EU. German press reported "thefeeling of European identity to which the euro contributes may evenpromote a culture of stability in Europe", while in Hamburg it wasanticipated "The euro will build bridges and open doors such as thosesymbolically depicted on its bank notes." (BBC 2002). The French citeda smooth transition while the Spanish press hailed the euro as "ahistoric step in the building of Europe" which shows that "the dream ofgreate r integration is becoming a reality" (BBC 2002). "From Athensto Helsinki, from Lisbon to Berlin," writes the French Le Monde, "theEuropeans have welcomed the euro with child-like exuberance." (BBC2002). It was hoped by some in Brussels and the rest of Europe thatsuch reporting, combined with a successful euro, would encourageholdouts Denmark, Sweden, and Britain to join the currency.
However, the media in the UK did not cooperate, maintaining itsprimarily cautious stance on both the euro and UK participation in theEU. The BBC reports that “in London, the Times does not seemparticularly concerned that Britain has missed the birth of the euro.Prime Minister Tony Blair "can wield influence as Mr. Britain more thanMr. Europe", the paper believes, noting his many travels andinteractions in foreign affairs” (BBC 2002). “This standing hasnothing to do with Britain being "a component part of a European Unionentity", the paper points out, but rather with "the links of history,culture, language, trade and immigration" (BBC 2002). So those who"argue today that the arrival of the euro underlines the urgency ofBritain joining in if it is not to be sidelined... miss the point", thepaper believes.
Researchers examining Sweden in particular and Europe as a wholeconcluded “reports concentrating on the national economic consequencesof the EU for monetary union was an important theme in news coverage ofthe economy,” and that economic concerns dominated news media coveragein general (Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter 2000, 129). Similar researchfound that “press released by economic players, including majorEuropean finance houses, were a central element in economic news inBritain,” and that economic stories also received a significant aboutof coverage (Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter 2000, 129). Foreign policyand stories regarding Europe averaged six per cent of Britishtelevision news coverage during 1998 (Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter2000, 130). Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter (2000, 133), contrasting thedifference in coverage of the euro in Germany and Britain, noted thatBritish coverage was much more negative and reserved, mirroring publicconcerns regarding the currency. However, “it appeared that theeducative role of the British news was especially tailored towardreinforcing (or at least not challenging) the government’s and thecountry’s official position on the euro, and people were advised totake a wait and see approach before opening bank accounts in euros orbuying a home with a euro mortgage” (Semetko, de Vreese, and Peter2000, 134).
de Vreese, Peter and Semetko (2001) reviewed coverage of the launch ofthe euro in Britain, Germany, Denmark and the Netherlands. They found“journalists in all countries were more likely to emphasize conflictrather than economic consequences in framing general political andeconomic news” (de Vreese, Peter and Semetko 2001, 107). That is,conflict over the euro, such as what occurs when the government andpublic opinion disagree, sells more papers and brings in moretelevision viewers than does consensus on the issue. In Britain andDenmark, the debates about the euro’s launch “lacked the quality ofconflict because the existence of the euro had already become areality,” instead “discussions centred on the question of what it wouldmean to not belong to the new “euroland,” a subject of greaterdisagreement (de Vreese, Peter and Semetko 2001, 118). The emphasiswas on “ concern over the potential importance of the euro and the U.S.dollar, while journalists speculated that the once mighty British poundmight be perceived as less of a world player in the same way that theolder generation may have lamented the decline of the British empire”(de Vreese, Peter and Semetko 2001, 118).
The government realises that the media sales and viewership of thoseoutlets opposing the euro are far greater than those of media sourcessupporting the currency, and that public evaluation from these outletscould significantly influence elections (Mullen and Burkitt 2003,331). In studying and analysing over 4,000 news reports before, duringand after the failed Euro referendum in Denmark, researchers concludedthat “strongly negative news about an issue that was also highlyvisible in the news bolstered negative evaluations of politicalleaders” (de Vreese 2004, 59). “Previous studies of voting behaviourin national referendums suggest that a popular government can win thevote whereas an unpopular government is more likely to lose” (de Vreese2004, 60). The influence of the news media has strong effect onreferendum results.
Finally, the UK government itself also used the media to explain thecountry’s slow and/or lack of support for the euro and the EU to otherEuropean nations, and to frame the UK’s decisions in the most positiveand acceptable light to these other countries. Diplomatically, thereluctance of the UK to commit to the EU and accept the euro have ledto it being excluded from some discussions and negotiations (Mullen andBurkitt 2003, 330). With the end of the Cold War, Europe is not asresponsive to wider interests as it once was, preferring to focus onEuropean issues (Ramsay 2001, 325). Diplomatically, technology hasopened much more rapid lines of communication between European players,decreasing response time regarding negotiations, whilst concentrationof European governance in Brussels is rapidly shifting the centre ofpower in Europe to that city (BBC 2003a). European players areincreasingly implying that should Britain continue to avoid adoption ofthe euro or a more active role in the EU, Europe is quite ready to goon without the UK (BBC 2003b).
In this regard, some aspects of the British media are working againstdiplomatic negotiations regarding the euro, whilst some aresupportive. The Blair administration, in the meanwhile, continues touse the media to reinforce the eventual intention of the UK to adoptthe euro, and by doing so reassures both other European administrationsand their publics. For example, had Mr. Blair used traditional,less-public means for his 2003 discussion with Mr. Chirac of France,only political insiders would have been aware of the friendly dialoguebetween the two, particularly if the story was not picked up by Britishmedia opposed to the euro. As it was, the two leaders held a pressconference, virtually assuring media coverage of the issue in the waythey intended. Mr. Chirac was appropriately respectful of the UK’sdecision to wait on the currency, stating "We would like England tojoin the euro, but of course we have no intention of pushing it" (BBC2003b). Mr Blair further used the media to let both the Europeanpublics and their respective governments of his intentions, “that, forEngland, this is not a refusal to join the euro but a decision to waitfor changes, notably economic ones, that will let it do so in a morenatural and efficient way" (BBC 2003b). Both men used the media as achannel of diplomatic communication, and in doing so impacted therelationship between the two countries.
“With such huge question marks hanging over perhaps the biggestpolitical decision of this generation, every possible hint about euromembership is minutely dissected by journalists and analysts” (BBC2005). This allowed various camps and opinions to be brought into theeuro debate, and kept the issues in the forefront of the public’sminds. It also caused a number of parties inside and outside the UK touse British and European media sources to attempt to influence thepubic opinion.
Obviously, there is significantly more opportunity for study andconsideration of the media, its impact on modern diplomacy and foreignpolicy, and its role on the world stage. Whilst a number of studieshave considered the role of the media in involving and constrainingforeign policy actions of theirs and others’ governments regardingcrisis and/or conflict situations, if the media is truly a non-stateplayer in international relations and negotiations, its impact shouldbe discernable across a variety of issues, including culture,non-conflict politics, and economics. A wider research considerationof the role of the media in the relationships between countriesregarding these issues is indicated, as well as further study of theimpact of the media on its own constituents, and the power or lackthereof of the CNN Effect on policy generation, adaptation, anddiplomatic relations. Study of the impact of general diplomaticpractise on the media and how i t does business is another area ofconsideration.
A further recommendation regards the education of the public into thepower and role of the media. Whilst it is unlikely the media wouldpromote such information on its own, an informed electorate should beaware of the constraining and framing functions the media currentlyprovides in our world, in addition, to the detrimental long-termimpacts that have begun to be documented regarding the rapid changes infocus and funding caused by media fickleness in regards to coveringglobal issues.
In conclusion, the global media, particularly channels with worldwidereach such as CNN and the BBC, have become a non-state actor in thecreation of foreign policy and the ongoing diplomatic communication andnegotiations between nation-states. Governments and diplomaticpersonnel are aware and use the media as part of their communicationand negotiation strategies, in turn the media uses them to create andsell stories and information for profit. The growing influence of themedia has caused significant changes in the timing and methods withwhich diplomacy is carried out. In some cases this can be seen aspositive, with governments being encouraged to address issues aroundthe world and being held accountable for their actions within thediplomatic community. On the other hand, media involvement has led toa reduction in quiet diplomacy, which is contended to be the mosteffect way to avoid or resolve disagreement in many situations.Overall, the power of the media should not be discounted, and providesample opportunity for further consideration and study.
Cite This Dissertation
To export a reference to this article please select a referencing stye below: