The Cnn Effect: The Myth Of News, Foreign Policy And Intervention By Piers Robinson

2028 words - 8 pages

The main theory discussed in this paper will be the CNN Effect. This theory, which has been argued fairly interestingly by Piers Robinson in his book The CNN Effect: the Myth of News, Foreign Policy and Intervention (2002), claims that gripping and sometimes even gruesome television images, particularly those dealing with humanitarian crisis, greatly increase U.S. policymakers decision to intervene in a crisis when that particular event would normally not be of any interest to the United States. This theory is meant to portray the immense power mass media has over the government. It was during World War II that mass media first became such an important element to the war time efforts. It became extremely easy for the war to be broadcasted by major television broadcast companies throughout most of the world. The many wars that followed World War II (the Cold War, Vietnam, Gulf War, and other conflicts) were broadcasted with even more ease by major news companies such as NBC, BBC, and CNN. These networks became and are still to this day some of the most powerful broadcasters of the war time activities (Gilboa, 2005). As these major conflicts and wars followed many senior political officials soon began to recognize how their policies were affected by the mass media even if it was in a remedial way. Even though there are many other ways in which policy makers are affected, this particular paper is going to takes a more narrow viewpoint of the CNN Effect and only focus on the news media aspect of the theory. As stated by Robinson in his book The CNN Effect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy and Intervention: “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” (2002, p. 1).
Along with the intensification in broadcasting, researchers were curious as to how it was affecting the decisions of major political figures and their policies. Since the increase of policy maker’s choices being broadcast to the whole world, they had much more responsibility, and often learned about major events that, prior to the boost in broadcasting, may have never troubled these policy makers. When CNN overflows the airwaves with major news of a foreign catastrophe, policymakers have no other choice but to redirect their full focus to the emergency situation at hand. It also proposes that crisis reporting conjures an emotional turmoil from the community to react to the situation, coercing political leaders to alter their current course or risk losing their popularity. This highlights the strong connection made between news broadcasting, the public, and policymakers both foreign and domestic. When citizens are affected emotionally by news of crises happening throughout the world, the people will, generally...

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