Free «Media as a Driving Force in International Politics» Essay Sample

Media as a Driving Force in International Politics

In modern world, various institutions claim to play a role in international politics. Each of them has its own niche and performs its functions in world politics. Media is one of the most important institutions of modern society, influencing almost all spheres of its activity, including politics, health, education, religion, and so on. Nowadays, media shape culture in its various variants. Their role in the formation, functioning, and evolution of public consciousness as a whole is enormous. Moreover, the perception and interpretation of the most important phenomena and events in a country and the world in general are performed through media. These circumstances acquire special relevance and importance against the backdrop of ever-greater media penetration into the political sphere. Nowadays, media is a driving force in international politics because it is one of the most important tools for realizing various political processes.

Historical Background

Media involve radio, television, the press, and the Internet. Historically, the first steps of television in the political arena in the 1950s - early 1960s caused euphoria among specialists due to its powerful media effect. For example, in the US Presidential election in 1960, the sensational victory of little-known Senator John F. Kennedy’s over vice-president Richard Nixon was immediately credited with such a medium as television due to a series of debates between the candidates that (Kavalski, 2016). Given this and similar other facts, Western researchers concluded that the activation of media had contributed to the erosion of the organizational structure of political parties, their social base, and the weakening of the party’s commitment to an increasing number of voters in industrialized countries (Robinson, 2013). This was reflected in the formation and wide dissemination of the thesis that media would replace political parties, acting as the main mechanism for regulating and implementing political and especially electoral process. Thus, it is alleged that journalists, reporters, advertising specialists, and other media representatives have replaced traditional politicians as the gatekeepers of political process. Therefore, they have become new creators of political ideas.

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In modern political science, media is characterized by such magnificent titles as the grand arbitrator of the fourth branch of government along with the legislative, executive, and judicial ones. Many politicians consider that the ability to control television allows politicians to control the entire country (Karsten & West, 2016). While these arguments have an element of exaggeration, the fact is that modern politics cannot be imagined without the Internet, press, radio and television. According to the recent study, in the early 1960s, Canadian sociologist M. McLuhan argued that the means of transmission in itself were more important than information transmitted to them (Kavalski, 2016). Although various means of mass media have their own characteristics, all of them combine the ability to communicate directly with the public, as if bypassing the traditional communication institutions such as the church, the school, and the family as well as political parties and organizations.

The Press

For a long time, the main source of information for the general public has been the press, or newspapers and magazines. Moreover, many of them emerged as the organs of certain political parties and they were involved in various political processes. In any case, newspapers did not hide from the very beginning that they are would not be politically neutral. Importantly, by providing entertainment materials and local news, newspapers have taught ordinary people to view themselves as a part of a wider world by responding to their developments in it (Kavalski, 2016). A characteristic feature of the press is the creation of an image of repeatable accuracy that can spread political news around the world by reproducing human dialogue on a truly planetary scale and building bridges between epochs. Therefore, this medium greatly influences international politics.

Indeed, the printed word has significantly expanded the power of political leaders, since written orders have become a new mass technology of political power. However, scientists consider the most important gift of the press is its feature of detachment and non-participation (Karsten & West, 2016). Specifically, the modern press controls mass consciousness with the help of carefully planned information leaks. In addition to these special technologies, the press can give different meanings to political events simply by actively using them or ignoring them. Meanwhile, modern political scientists note one important shortcoming of print media in comparison with electronic media (Robinson, 2013). Thus, the press loses in the speed of information delivery since it is impossible to avoid a significant gap in time between preparing an article, printing it, delivering, and receiving it by readers (Robinson, 2013). However, the press seeks to compensate this shortcoming with the sensationalism of its main messages, which is especially important in the sphere of political relations.

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Radio and Television

Furthermore, radio and television have greatly expanded the possibilities of exploiting mass communication processes for political purposes. The invention of radio in the late 19th century radically and permanently changed the mechanism of information dissemination by making it possible to transmit it across state borders and long distances without the need for physical presence (Kavalski, 2016). For television, the period from its inception to becoming an important instrument of politics was even shorter, mainly due to the rapid rates of its development and spread. In the 1970s and 1980s, television, which became increasingly important in political process, became the dominant media outlet (Karsten & West, 2016). For example, television debates between candidates have a great influence on the nature of political behavior and especially, the voting of US voters. Therefore, this type of media has a great impact on the audience by encouraging them to develop their opinions.

The Internet

Nowadays, the Internet has become the main type of information channels in international politics. In the world of computer networks, mass information occupies a significant place. Thus, it offers electronic versions and digests of newspapers, for example, network newspapers and magazines, radio and television broadcasting, web pages of individual journalists. Moreover, the content online is changed quite quickly and received in real time. Therefore, computer networks combine the capabilities of all types of media. In addition, the development of mobile telephony opens new approaches to the Internet, bypassing wire communication. Electronic media has led to the concept that media shapes the infrastructure of democratic society. Moreover, it creates the opportunity for transition from a simple participation to the participation of all citizens in solving urgent social and political problems together with the state authorities through interactive dialogues, forums, conferences, and voting.

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The Functions of Media in International Politics

However, the role of media as a driving force in international politics cannot be assessed unambiguously. Thus, it is a complex and multifaceted institution, consisting of a multitude of bodies and elements that ensure the delivery of information to the population about events and phenomena, occurring in every particular country in the world. The evidence suggests that media serves to observe the world through collection and dissemination of information, edits data through its selection and comments, shapes the public opinion, and spreads culture (Robinson, 2013). In fact, the press, radio, television, and the Internet provide different forms of human communication since they help keep society informed about political issues. Kavalski (2016) quotes that the press, radio, television and the Internet pretend to perform the functions of a “watch dog of public interest” and to be “the eyes and ears of society” (p. 124). Indeed, the press can warn the general public if, for example, the economy of their country is in decline or if corruption erodes the ruling elite. If crime or drug addiction rate grows, the public will learn it from the media as well. Therefore, to maintain this image of communicator, media tries to be independent from politics.

Often, in their publications and comments, journalists and reporters are prone to shedding some light on the intriguing policy of the ruling circles and attracting the attention of the public to the most shocking aspects of their activities. For example, such publications include The New York Times’ story about the Pentagon documents and the report of the Watergate scandal in The Washington Post (Karsten & West, 2016).  Furthermore, many Western publications set the tone in public discussions and disputes, bringing the most pressing problems and topics scandals and frauds to the public. Another example shows that the publication of the Watergate scandal has led to the resignation of President R. Nixon in 1974, and this was the first incident of this kind (Kavalski, 2016). Therefore, media influences people’s consciousness and emotions, which shapes politics in return.

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In conclusion, media is a powerful force for influencing public’s consciousness and the means of prompt delivery of the most relevant and timely information. In addition, it is the most effective means of influencing emotions that are convincing in the best possible way. Thus, the press, radio, television, and the Internet contribute to the erosion of the organizational structure of political parties and their social base. Although all of them have their specific features, they pursue the same goal, which is to develop the public opinion on different social and political processes. Consequently, media becomes a new creator of political ideas. At the same time, it penetrates the politics not only in the domestic sphere but also in the international arena. Therefore, nowadays, media is a driving force in international politics because it is one of the most important tools for realizing the political process itself.