Monday, November 9, 2009


This week's readings all dealt with the new ways and effectiveness of specific interest groups, including media outlets, NGOs and governments, trying to shape news stories, especially in crisis situations. As new developments in ICTs allow these groups to more quickly and easily communicate and to more readily obtain information, they also necessitate quicker decisions and responses from these actors in leadership positions. Also, these response actions and their consequences are made even more visible to the greater public through the use of new ICTs.

As a result, gaining public support for government policies has become more essential for politicians, even as this process has become more challenging due to the abundance and diversity of news sources available. The Brown piece and the Hafez chapter both mentioned topics that I thought resonated with two widely covered news events from the last week.

In Brown's writing on shaping public opinion of the War on Terrorism, she mentions that 'perception management' is becoming an increasingly important tool of political conflict. The concept of 'perception management' can be applied to the recent attack at Fort Hood. For the last few days, American government and Armed Forces officials have made many public statements to the media about how this attack should be perceived in light of the shooters ethnic, cultural, and religious background. I think that there has been a very cautious stance by the government and the media alike when framing this unfortunate and tragic event and that no one is interested in making any hasty conclusions about how the attacker's religious faith contributed to the carrying out of the shooting.

The second event that has gotten a lot of news coverage this week, especially in the print media, has been the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As someone who has studied German for the last 10 years, I have never seen this much high-profile news coverage of ANYTHING that has to do with Germany. Even when Angela Merkel, proclaimed by Forbes in 2007 as the most powerful woman in the world, won her second term as German Chancellor last month, it was barely a blip on the American news media's radar. In the Hafez chapter, he states that during the Cold War, international issues received greater attention than in the era of globalization. I thought it was ironic then that this week the American news media just so happened to be enamored with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a throw-back (and major victory for the West) to Cold War era news.

The readings for this week really emphasize the great opportunities that governments, NGOs and media outlets now have to shape news coverage of both domestic and international events due to new ICTs. They also underscore the increased level of complexity that these actors have to deal with when gauging how their news messages will be received by audiences both at home and abroad.

1 comment:

  1. Those are two great examples of the media framing current news stories. While initially the media was hesitant to frame the Ft. Hood shooting as relating to the shooters religion, they have since published articles linking him to an extremist imam that visited his mosque. This does plant the seed that it was religiously motivated. On the other hand, I have seen a few reports on the mental stability of soldiers making it more related to the pressures caused by war psychologically. As the story develops it will be interesting to see how the framing becomes more solidified.