Issue April 2011; 4 (1)

mwc coverARTICLES

Piers Robinson
The CNN effect reconsidered: mapping a research agenda for the future

Nik Gowing
Time to move on: new media realities – new vulnerabilities of power

Steven Livingston
The CNN effect reconsidered (again): problematizing ICT and global governance in the CNN effect research agenda

Early CNN effect research considered policy effects associated with cumbersome satellite uplinks of limited capacity. Today, nearly ubiquitous mobile telephony and highly portable satellite uplinks enable high-speed data transmission, including voice and video streaming, from most remote locations. Also, important geopolitical realignments have occurred since the end of the Cold War. The US is now challenged by new economic and cultural powerhouses, and by the rise of networked nonstate actors. It is not simply a matter of realignment among nation-states, as the original CNN effects research noted, but also a realignment between the type, scope and scale of actors involved in global governance. Rather than confining the argument to a consideration of media effects on state policy processes, this article argues that important technological and political developments call for a new research path, one that centers on the relationship between governance and the nature of a given information environment.
Babak Bahador
Did the Global War on Terror end the CNN effect?

While the Global War on Terror (GWOT) aimed to eradicate terrorists, it also allegedly claimed another casualty — independent media coverage of foreign policy — a key component of the CNN effect. To many analysts of this media effect, the launch of the GWOT clarified foreign policy priorities, much like the Cold War era. From this perspective, the media, which enjoyed relative freedom in their foreign policy coverage in the 1990s, became subservient to the state again after 9/11. This article challenges this conventional wisdom by first arguing that the media’s foreign news agenda did not significantly change with the GWOT. However, problems with the notion of independent media framing, which existed in the 1990s, continued post-9/11. The article offers a nuanced understanding of the CNN effect that places the media’s influence within the existing foreign policy decision-making structure. It also shows how the CNN effect can be a sustainable concept regardless of changing international security environments.

Virgil Hawkins
Media selectivity and the other side of the CNN effect: the consequences of not paying attention to conflict

Most of the world’s conflicts take place largely unreported by the media, and the deadliest conflicts are among those ignored. If we assume that the media do have the power to influence policy responses to conflict, it follows that, by ignoring conflict, the media contribute to the lack of policy response. This article suggests that a major consequence of this effect is unchecked conflict-related death tolls (mostly indirect deaths caused by sickness and starvation) since little progress is made in achieving conflict resolution, the waging of the conflict is unrestrained, and relatively little humanitarian aid is forthcoming. With so few chosen conflicts and so many ‘off the radar’ stealth conflicts, the stakes of such media choices are high. This article focuses on this other side of the CNN effect, examining just how selectively and disproportionately the media cover conflict, and on the consequences of the lack of attention.

Ekaterina Balabanova
Media and foreign policy in central and eastern Europe post 9/11: in from the cold?

Most work on foreign policy and media influence focuses on Western media but the increasing prominence of central and eastern European countries in global politics (as members of the EU and NATO) means that the media—foreign policy relationship in these countries is assuming greater importance. This article addresses this gap by revisiting the question of media influence on foreign policy and the CNN effect debate from a non-US/UK, eastern European perspective, using some evidence from the Iraq War. The author builds on previous work on Kosovo where the media were shown to play a rather small role in foreign policy formation in these countries. However, the US-led invasion of Iraq is notable for the number of post-communist countries getting involved, and the widespread unpopularity of the campaign. This article re-examines the debate in light of the new foreign policy environment and asks to what extent the post-9/11 era has seen a transformation of the media—foreign policy relationship in eastern Europe.
Douglas A Van Belle and David M Potter
Japanese foreign disaster assistance: the ad hoc period in international politics and the illusion of a CNN effect

Policy uncertainty is often cited as a cause of the CNN effect. In fact, many argue that an uncertain policy environment is a necessary condition for media-driven foreign policy. While the logic appears compelling, rigorous empirical analyses of the influence of the news media on Japanese foreign disaster aid allocations indicates that, as the global policy environment became more uncertain with the end of the Cold War, media influence went from being a prominent factor in foreign disaster aid allocations to being statistically insignificant. This finding is contrary to the logic of the policy uncertainty argument for media-driven foreign policy as a generalization but it is consistent with the earlier findings for the US disaster assistance program. This lends additional evidence for the argument that the most significant aspect of the CNN effect, the presumed rise of a media-driven foreign policy environment in the 1990s, may have been illusory.


Ann Strahm
Review: Book review: Anine Kierulf and Helge Rønning (eds) Freedom of Speech Abridged? Cultural, Legal and Philosophical Challenges Göteborg: Nordicom, 2009. 155 pp. ISBN 978 91 89471 76 4

Greg Simons
Review: Anthony R DiMaggio Mass Media, Mass Propaganda: Examining American News in the ‘War on Terror’ Lanham, MD: Lexington Books, 2009. 329 pp. ISBN 978 0 7391 1903 7

Eleni Sideri Review: Steven Vertovec and Susanne Wessendorf (eds) The Multiculturalism BackLash: European Discourses and Practices London: Routledge, 2010. 224 pp. ISBN 10 0 415 55648 1 Adi Kuntsman Figurations of Violence and Belonging: Queerness, Migranthood and Nationalism in Cyberspace and Beyond New York: Peter Lang, 2008. 302 pp., 6 col. illus. ISBN 978 3 03911 564 8

Mark Goodall
Review: Exhibition review: Bringing the War Home Impressions Gallery, Bradford, UK, 17 September to 14 November 2010