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Influence of media on public opinion and foreign policy formulation - Essay Example

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The issue of public opinion and its influence in foreign policy making has been a matter of dispute between different schools of thought both during and since the Cold War.On the one hand, realists find public opinion volatile, emotional, lacking coherence and structure, and with little if any influence on foreign affairs…
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Influence of media on public opinion and foreign policy formulation
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Download file to see previous pages The issue of public opinion and its influence in foreign policy making has been a matter of dispute between different schools of thought both during and since the Cold War.On the one hand, realists find public opinion volatile, emotional, lacking coherence and structure, and with little if any influence on foreign affairs. On the other, liberalists suggest that public opinion on international affairs is stable, sensibly structured, consistent, and influences foreign policy making in a ‘reciprocal relationship’. Hence, some leaders take into account the public opinion when making important decisions others ignore it (Guraziu, 2008, p.2) In most of the democratic countries, governments often consider public opinion seriously since they need the support of the public to stay in power. If they avoid or neglect public opinion, it is difficult for them to win future elections. On the other hand, in countries where communist or totalitarian administration prevails, governments often neglect the public opinion because of the superior power enjoy by such governments. Such governments often put some control over the media in order to block the media from spreading information against the government. For example, in communist China, all the television programs and internet coverage of incidents were strictly censored before displaying it in front of the public. The advancements in science and technology caused tremendous changes in every segment of human life. The introduction of computers, internet, television, mobile phones and other digital equipment has made drastic changes in the communication world. It is often said that the information is at the finger tips at present. Earlier, people relied heavily on newspapers for getting information and therefore they succeeded in getting only delayed information. At present it is possible for the public to see the live telecast of incidents. In other words, public are able to get the information as soon as it happens now. Instant communication helped the public to respond more effectively to the information they are receiving. “Media is all about connecting people and mirroring the society that we live in. Media is all about reflecting on daily happenings around the globe. People are not just the audience but also an essential element of news in itself” (What is the Importance of Public Opinion in Media, 2011). Moreover, “The media are the deliverers of a message, and through this message the audience comprehends and forms opinions on events. This makes the mass media both an opportunity and a threat for the sides engaged in a conflict”(Simons, 2008, p.79). Media plays an important role in influencing public opinion on various issues. “In the vein of political theorist V.O. Keyes, I believe that the validity of public opinion is only as good as the what the media leads them to believe”(Jones, 2008). In fact ordinary people may not bother much to analyze the information when they receive it. Media helps them to understand the consequences of certain information because of the in depth analysis and coverage of news and information happens in the current media. For example, US foreign policy and the Middle East affairs undergo immense public debate only because of the micro level analysis of these topics by the media. Public opinion is a dominant force in American politics. Research produced by the Statistics Department in Washington for the end of the 1990's indicated that in one year the average American would: watch about 1000 hours of network television watch about 400 hours of cable television spend 150 hours reading a newspaper spend 100 hours reading magazines (Public Opinion, 2011) This paper analyses the influence of media in formulating public opinion and foreign policy, taking US foreign policy and the Middle East affairs as examples. Influence of Media on Middle East Affairs & US Foreign Policy Significantly, during a Senate committee meeting on American foreign ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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