Media Power and The Transformation of War

Chiara de Franco
(Kings College London)

Do the news media have any role in the transformation of war and warfare? This book argues that the news media alter the cognitive and strategic environment of the actors of war and politics and change the way these interact with one another. Contributing to the changing nature of war and warfare, the media is influencing decision-making and political leaders themselves, highlighting that politics is not a rational process. Building on a four-dimensional definition of power and focusing on the role of television, this book recognises the importance of interactions upon the understanding of any social phenomenon. It suggests that the nature of war is changing partly because it is no longer just a matter of linear strategic interactions but also, and mainly, of ‘mediated’ ones.


‘This is a penetrating study of the power of television that goes well beyond the conventional arguments and ‘evidence’. By placing the presentation of two cases (Kosovo and Afghanistan) in a larger framework of power, de Franco advances our understanding of the strategies used by both the media and the decision makers […] a work that will be read with profit by readers interested in international relations, foreign policy making, the media (particularly television) and the general ‘attentive’ public.’
– Friedrich Kratochwil, Professor of International Relations, European University Institute

‘A lot of myths surround the role of the media in shaping both perceptions and actual policies in recent warfare. Some view the media as a simple tool cynically manipulated by government spindoctors. Others, by contrast, portray journalists as the tireless champions of truth and moral values against governments too willing to shirk their responsibility to stop gross human rights violations […] The great merit of Chiara De Franco is to show that the reality is much more complex. Using impressive research and fascinating interviews with key players, she gives a whole new interpretation to familiar concepts such as ‘the tyranny of real time’ or ‘media power’. De Franco’s complete and wise policy recommendations are essential reading for anyone who believes that both media and governments need to do a much better job in the future in explaining wars to their citizens at home.”
– Jamie Shea, NATO Deputy Assistant Secretary General for Emerging Security Challenges and Former NATO Spokesman.

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