Public Diplomacy and Global Communication 2014b

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The CNN Effect, how much influence does it have on foreign policy?

The Cable News Network, is a television network that instantly transmits images and information informing the public of contemporary events on a global scale. The CNN effect regards the use of the network by providing instant images that will cause public to react which forces government official to shape and reshape foreign policies regarding to these issues that the public has become aware of. The CNN effect has cause a loss of policy control by policy makes because the media has become extensively more powerful. Information has been available everywhere before the 24/7 CNN news cycle, however, through the media system, it has encouraged the public to become more aware of this information by it begin broadcasted every hour of every day. Therefore, the public has increasingly intelligence of issues, such as military operations, or humanitarian activities, occurring and causing government officials to act fast in order to please and comfort the public. The images broadcasting on the CNN regard usually a display of famine or horror, as well as, broadcasting events, such as the Somalian Civil War or the 1990-1992 Gulf War, which causes organisations joined by the United States government to act speedily in order to generate the media attention and government action. Otherwise, a backlash of the general public will cause riots. If the government does not involve itself in these events the public might question the government why it will not aid these suffering people

.cnn-international      breaking-news

The CNN makes it more difficult for policy makers as it encourages officials to make more, quick decisive decision and challenges the administration. The CNN covers news all over the world and extremely quickly, this causes the news to quickly arrive at policy makers which then do not have to wait before making any new policies or decisions. Traditionally, it took a long time to receive information from abroad and therefore, the CNN effect has provided a useful platform of information used by government official. Furthermore, the government officials also use the publics opinions to shape their public perceptions which provides them with a large and variety of perceptions to take into account when adjusting or shaping new policies.

It is believed that the CNN dictates what is on the foreign policy agenda. The media usually indicates the priorities of the news. The relations between media attention and government action causes organisations such as relief agencies to show more interests and provide more aid to these issues and war zones. For example, throughout the 1992, both in Somalia and in southern Sudan there was equal suffering. However, the Bush administration forced the media to involve a lot more in Somalia as television cameras were available there. The government aided the journalists to get there and right after Bush decided to begin an airlift to Somalia. If it had not been for Bush involvement in Somalia the CNN would not have been that interested in doing independent reporting, but it proved to be much more interesting when the U.S. provided aid towards Somalia.

The CNN effect has proven that televised images of suffering people force officials to intervene. It is believed that the exposure of suffering images pressurises the U.S. government to act. If the government is seen not to support or supply aid to suffering it causes the general public to bring awareness of the lack of support the government is providing for these states. However, there is a difference, pictures portraying female refugees or malnourished children have a larger effect than pictures portraying civil wars. For example, in 1994, the images portrayed of half a million slaughtered people in Rwanda did not cause governments to act or intervene with force or troops. Yet, after the brutality ended and fleeing of refugees came, the issue became humanitarian and the U.S. military send well-equipped people to solve the issue.

Can the government officials adapt the CNN effect? It lies in the hands of government officials to change the CNN Effect. Some say that it has change over time, however, some also debate that it was already set to change before the establishment of the CNN effect. It is difficult to say that it is due to the fact that the CNN has broadcasted and brought awareness to certain topics and in result the government officials in response have sent troops and military aid. There is also the option that the government already planned these tactics of sending troops and military aid before the media brought attention to these topics. Nevertheless, the complex of the CNN effect has been cause by the conflicts in the world. It is difficult to say that the reporters rely on the government or that the government relies on the news.


  • Strobel, W., 1996, The CNN Effect,, accessed on 02/05/2015.
  • Robinson, P., The CNN Effect Reconsidered: mapping a research agenda for the future, Media, War and Conflict, Vol. 4, no. 1, 3-11, 2011.
  • Robinson, P., The CNN effect: can the news media drive foreign policy, Review of International Studies, 25/2 : 301-309, 1999.

Discuss the Advantages and Disadvantages of Celebrity Humanitarianism.

Over the years, celebrities have provided a large impact on diplomatic missions and political issues. They have used their fame and influence and redirect it towards a cause or charity and their usage of influence to the mass and multi-media effects to influence public opinion. Celebrity humanitarianism can be interpreted as one’s concern for human welfare and well-being, in this case the concern stems from celebrities. (Kapoor, I., 2013, p. 4) Celebrity humanitarianism has been, traditionally viewed by academics, as ‘manufactures process fabricated by media exposure’. The media has emphasised their status through media and communicators. However, it has been argued that the extensive influence of celebrities on policy-making processes have not been taken into account.

The most essential advantage of celebrity humanitarianism is the scope of attention the person can bring to a cause or event. Celebrities are encouraged to advertise on behalf of public relations enabling to up sell their beliefs and involvement in certain causes and charities. Celebrities thrive on the advantage of modern technology and use this form of communication to communicate with their fans and society. As Oxfam, a non-governmental organisation, has discusses: ‘What celebrities can do… is that they can hep you reach an audience which you would not otherwise get to, one which does not listen to institutions but responds to people.’ Furthermore, celebrities have accumulated a sufficient amount of funds which can advantage the organisation. When the organisation is in need of funds, there is always the option of celebrities to fund the costs. The United Nations adopts many celebrities to become either Goodwill Ambassadors or as Peace Messengers as they believe that celebrities could influence international public opinion to support the UN’s goals and bring more public awareness to important issues. Charities supported by celebrities have been able to bring acknowledgment to the public and are able to collect money for these charities. For example, Bob Geldof’s Live Aid campaign had the ability to raise over 100$ million.Live_Aid_36043c

Celebrity humanitarianism can also lead to disadvantages. In addition to bringing attention towards a cause, it also allows the charity to encourage social inequality, by adopting a celebrity to represent people in poverty. Furthermore, the celebrity can only reach a certain type of society, mostly western, as the other societies might not have the available resources, such as television, media, internet. Moreover, it is also important to question the celebrities motives, it is for self recognition? Also, what are the consequences for the organisation when the celebrities does not behaves as justly.   In particular, this is important in states with different cultures, or in war-zones. It is also important to question the celebrities’ knowledge of the charity, diplomacy and humanitarianism. The lack of diplomatic education can result the celebrity not knowing what he/she is doing within the platform of the charity.


The main difference between non-governmental organisations (NGO’s) and governmental organisations (GO’s) is that, governmental organisations have already obtained the power to communicate with the public as it is encouraged by the government and obviously the public is often interested in the government and their policies. Whereas with NGO’s the public is far less aware of them, in particular when they are first established, but with the aid of celebrities, attention can increasingly be brought to these charities and organisations. Therefore, it is important to note the dependence of governmental organisations they do not ‘need’ celebrities to bring attention to humanitarianism as they can achieve it through news media cycles.

The disadvantages and advantages of celebrity humanitarianism has caused a divided debate. However, the ability of celebrities bringing awareness to causes has proven to be successful as well as the ability to collect a lot of money for these causes and events. However, to the extent of war and relations between states it is believed that diplomats should be encouraged to pursue these issues as celebrities lack to education to successfully tackle such issues. Therefore, it is important to note what the cause is the celebrities are involved in.


To What Extent Did Social Networks Aid the Arab Spring?

The Arab Spring was a spread of protests throughout Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and many more Middle Eastern states. The demonstrations were instigated by civilians as they were unsatisfied with the rule of the local governments. Further reasons that have speculated the protests are: income inequality gaps, dictatorship, human rights violations, political corruption, economic decline, unemployment, and extreme poverty. Many states idealised the Turkish model as it is a islamic government yet it conducts peaceful and democratic elections, liberal economy and secular constitutions.

The self-immolating Tunisian Mohamed Bouazizi is the cause of the escalating protests. It was due to political corruption and disagreement with the political system that caused him to self-immolate. It sparked a wave of successful protests to other state and, in 2012, governments in Tunisia, Egypt, Liby and Yemen have been overthrown. One of the first attempted protests in Egypt in 2008, resulted a Facebook page provided a framework for sustained political action and promoted demonstrations, strikes and protests, which resulted in in tens of thousands of followers. As one activists states: ‘We use Facebook to schedule protests, we use Twitter to coordinate and Youtube to tell the world’. The concept of using social networking websites for demonstrations stems from the youth and middle-class students.

The result of the modern advantages of technology and globalisation providing a platform of interconnectedness has provided a faster way of communication and more accessibility to information. Public information supplied by social networking websites, is of high importance to activists. Particularly during the Arab Spring, many activists also used social networking such as Twitter, to express their personal thought regarding the dissatisfaction of the government. The ability to communicate such large amount of personal information, which is uncensored and accurate, through social networking websites have played an important role in the Arab Spring. They results have been immaculate: Arab Spring activists have gained immense power which has aided in the overthrowing of dictatorships as well as bringing awareness to Arab civilians of the underground communities. The role of technology has enabled the establishment of democratic movements aid abused civilians to overthrow their dictators and gain a voice in political matters.

Many Arabic states have feared social networks as the civilians were often oppressed into believing that social networks were controlled by their oppressors and if any one stated their personal opinion, civilians were often abused or, in severe cases, imprisoned. However, throughout the Arab Spring, social networks broke this fear and helped many individuals to connect, share their intelligence, initiate protests and establish groups opposing the government. It gave the public in the Arabic states the confidence that others experiences the exact same issues, lack of justice, human rights abuses and brutality. It provided social networks with the role of spreading information without the involvement of the government and its restrictions.

All in all, it is important to note that the new framework of social networks has not caused the series of protests of anti-government in the Middle East. However, the role of social media was to communicate between individuals of a very quick basis. The social media provided a from of communication which was out of reach by the governments, enabled the individuals to share their knowledge and intelligence and to gain a large supporters platform from non-governmental organisations, from other democratic states as well as indicate the domestic issues within their states. Furthermore, some have even criticised the the Western governments and their use of social networks. In particular, the United States of America has been criticised as the U.S. government has encouraged the spread of democratisation in the Middle East, however, it is believed that the U.S. government has suppressed the revolutionary wave in order to keep the American citizens from attempting any revolutions. Furthermore, it is important to note the economic decline since 2010, as investors have decreased their stakes. As well as, a result in higher oil prices as the Middle East is one of the main oil providers.



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