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The Role of Media In Carrying Out Diplomacy In 2024

The role of media in diplomacy or media diplomacy has grown to be a significant tool of foreign policy, and journalists are participating in diplomatic activities and procedures more regularly and intensely. Media diplomacy is the use of the media by government representatives to interact with both state and non-state. The media can influence diplomacy in many different ways. The media serves as a tool for journalists and policymakers as independent actors.

Scholars in the domains of communication, diplomatic studies, and international relations,  should be encouraged to perform multidisciplinary research on this subject because there is currently a lack of knowledge regarding media diplomacy. This blog will provide you with all the necessary information about the role of media in diplomacy.

What Is Media Diplomacy? 

In general, it is believed that media and diplomacy are two different types of communication that run along different paths. Diplomacy involves confidential talks between countries through formal channels, announcements, and attitudes while the media informs the general public about worldwide developments. 

Media diplomacy refers to the role of the media in international relations and international communications. Media diplomacy addresses how the media connect policymakers to foreign governments and people. This includes the media as a channel for transmitting the diplomatic narrative from one state actor to another and for audiences to achieve particular goals. It is also defined as the political use of the media to communicate messages and attitudes to international state and non-state actors to forge an agreement. 

The Relation Between Media Diplomacy and Public Diplomacy

Media diplomacy and public diplomacy have often been confused as the same, as public diplomacy is carried through the media. Public Diplomacy is strategic communication where media is used as a channel to communicate and convey positive information to the audience of foreign countries. Public diplomacy aims to foster cooperation within a target country through media and improve the image of a country internationally while media diplomacy seeks to achieve international agreement by the use of public means. 

Uses Of Media In Diplomacy

The difference between media diplomacy and public diplomacy is; In media diplomacy, state official actors use media to send messages and information to the state officials of the other country. On the other hand, in public diplomacy, political actors including state and non-state actors use media to influence the public opinion of foreign audiences. This shows that the difference lies with the communication channels and communication actors. 

Also, Read About The Concept of Public Diplomacy In the 21st Century

Uses Of Media In Diplomacy

The media are employed in international politics for a variety of reasons. Press conferences, evaluations, leaks, visits by heads of government and mediators to hostile nations, and grand media events planned to usher in a new era are some examples of the regular and extraordinary media activities used to conduct media diplomacy.  The following are the uses of media diplomacy;

1) Signaling

Representatives use the media to communicate with leaders of rival states and nonstate actors when direct communication channels are insufficient or when one party is uncertain about the interest of another party in terms of proposing conflict resolution or leading to negotiations.  It is very effective for politicians to use the media without giving credit to the sources when they want to launch a “trial balloon.” They can stay out of the spotlight and distance themselves from a concept that might be met with hostility.

During the 1973 Arab-Israeli war,  Henry Kissinger improved the use of the media for pressurizing and signaling via “Shuttle Diplomacy”. He frequently provided senior American diplomatic journalists with background information, reports, and leaks that were primarily designed to compel concessions from the disputing parties and end disagreements.

2) Communication

The media is the only open channel for conflicting parties to communicate and negotiate during serious international emergencies or when all diplomatic channels have been cut off. The US only used the media to connect with the terrorists holding the captives during the initial stages of the 1979–1981 Iranian hostage crisis. Through the international news networks, American presidents and the leader of Iraq, Saddam Hussein, traded signals during the crises that preceded the 1990–1991 Gulf War and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. 

Instead of sending the US ambassador to Iraq, US Secretary of State James Baker issued the final ultimatum to Hussein in 1990 via CNN. The US was committed to using force only if Hussein disregarded the ultimatum, therefore Baker selected CNN not just to save time but also to convince the international community as a whole.

3) Negotiations

Media-related events are a traditional example of media diplomacy. They include summit diplomacy which is the meetings between the leaders of the main states to find a way to resolve a dispute and perhaps even forge a more lasting peace. Media events are presented reverently and ceremoniously, are planned, are transmitted live, and are organized outside of the newsroom. 

Negotiations in Diplomacy

The interruption of scheduled transmission caused by live coverage of media events draws large audiences from all around the world. Media events serve to end diplomatic disagreement, foster a positive environment for negotiations, and provide ideal circumstances for signing an agreement. Leaders may utilize media events to foster public support for the process of peacemaking.

4) Media- Broker Diplomacy

Journalists are now taking on direct and indirect mediation responsibilities in complex international conflicts as a result of the information and communication revolution. When they actively assist parties in starting formal negotiations, journalists undertake the direct intervention. The historic 1977 visit of Anwar Sadat to Israel was made possible in part because of Walter Cronkite of CBS News. Journalists help adversaries understand the benefits of negotiation in resolving their disagreements by providing a virtual forum for dialogue. Additionally, journalists participated in crucial covert negotiations.

There are moral and professional concerns with media-broker diplomacy. Journalists should report on events, not manufacture them.  Journalists continue to cover diplomatic events while working in diplomatic capacities, and they could give inaccurate accounts since they have a personal stake in a positive outcome.

Also, Read About Types of Diplomacy and Diplomatic Practice In the 21st Century

Digital Media and Diplomacy 

In the digital era, the practice of diplomacy has transformed.  Diplomats use the internet and social media to manage information between countries, known as digital diplomacy. Diplomats, foreign ministries, and political figures can now control this information directly through digital media. Particularly after the political upheavals in the Middle East in 2011, social media has started to gain major and serious interest in academia. 

The method of managing change through the use of digital means and online engagement is known as “digital diplomacy”. Even this feature can be seen as more of a component of public diplomacy, particularly when it comes to managing public social media communications during times of peace. This entails working to improve the of a country abroad. Or, to put it another way, “digital diplomacy is a salient component of public diplomacy”.

Effects of Media On Diplomacy

The media has put politicians under more pressure than ever before to respond quickly to news reports that, by their immediacy, are frequently inaccurate, fragmentary, and devoid of context. While quick diplomatic communication can lead to policy blunders, it can also help decision-makers handle a crisis. Global television coverage may serve as a real-time information source on situations that call for swift action, which could significantly impact the result. 

When the August 1991 Russian coup attempt was being covered live on CNN, Bush believed that the government of Gorbachev had the potential to survive. When he spoke out in favor of the democratic forces in Moscow at news conferences, his words would spread much more quickly than by any diplomatic channel. It has impacted the resistance by energizing the resistors inside and outside the parliament building of Russia. 

Similarly, if the actors do not cooperate to make media events successful, they are likely to fail. This was the primary cause of the Madrid Arab-Israeli Peace Conference’s failure in 1991. Following winning the Gulf War, the United States organized the Madrid media event to resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict. An estimated 4,500 journalists covered the event, which was co-sponsored by Bush and Gorbachev. The lack of even basic collaboration among the rivals, who believed the United States had forced them to attend the conference, prevented the conference from having the desired effects, however. The lack of progress stood in opposition to the high hopes for quick peacemaking that the media had fostered.

Also, Read About: 5 Key Pillars of American Diplomacy In Action

Learn Media Diplomacy with the Best Diplomats 

The role of media in diplomacy is vast, it connects foreign audiences, governments, and heads of state. When a political figure talks about an issue, it should be remembered that they are speaking for a very diverse audience. Best Diplomats provides excellent opportunities to raise your voice at the international level and to diverse people and cultures by participating in regularly conducted diplomatic conferences.

Learn Media Diplomacy with the Best Diplomats

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Media diplomacy involves different uses of media to encourage discussion and dispute settlement by officials in the international system. This concept aids in positioning diplomatic procedures based on communication and occurrences, like media events, in the appropriate context. Media events are planned jointly by two or more former rivals to persuade domestic and international public opinion in favor of mending relations or reaching accords. Therefore, rather than defining them as public diplomacy, which is typically done when relations are hostile, it would be more suitable to identify them as media diplomacy conducted in the context of conflict resolution. 


What are the benefits of media diplomacy in modern diplomacy?

Media helps in advancing the goals of foreign policy, sending messages and information to the officials of other states, and influencing audiences at the international level. 

How social media is used in media diplomacy? 

Social media can be a crucial tool in diplomatic practice for expressing the negotiating parties’ positions. For instance, the frequent tweets from key negotiators and other parties have influenced the dynamics of the Brexit negotiations. Additionally, social media permits quick shifts in public opinion.

Are public diplomacy and media diplomacy the same?

Media diplomacy is one of the components of public diplomacy. Public diplomacy uses the media to influence people worldwide. Other than this, public diplomacy involves exchange programs, scholarships, and cultural representations. 

Is digital diplomacy similar to cyber diplomacy?

No, Digital diplomacy or e- diplomacy is the use of digital media, the internet, and social media to practice diplomacy between states, while cyber diplomacy is the use of diplomatic tools and mindset to resolve issues or conflicts in cyberspace. 

Oleksandra Mamchii

Working as a academic lead at Best Diplomats.

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