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National Press Corps Director: Sam Zeidman - Institute for Domestic ...

National Press Corps Director: Sam Zeidman - Institute for Domestic ...

R u t g e r s Mo d e l C

R u t g e r s Mo d e l C o n g r e s s 1 Introduction Author John Baker once stated that, “The world is forever changing.” 1 This statement is especially true with respect to the rapid advancements of technology, media and the influence that it has in shaping government policies on both the domestic and international level. From the dawn of the 21 st Century the media, in all of its forms, has played a dominant role influencing government decisions in every country around the world. Today, mass media, defined as the means of communication that can reach the general population through mediums such as newspapers, magazines, radio, television, films, recordings, and electronic communications, is used for many purposes, ranging from small issues in a rural town to vital international matters. 2 This significant sphere of influence is due to the sudden growth of the twenty-four hour news networks such as the Cable News Network (CNN), the British Broadcasting Company (BBC), and International Television News (ITVN), the development of high speed and worldwide access of broadcasting companies, and through the rapid innovations of technology through transmission and communication satellites. For instance, by the late 1970s, a host of communication satellites had been launched into the Earth’s orbit and were in full use, broadcasting televised events around the world. 3 With the introduction of these satellites as the primary method of communication, the vast expansion of the media’s influence worldwide was inevitable. As time passed, communications technology was not the only thing that developed. With the introduction of the Internet as a medium of communication used by broadcasting companies, individuals, and governments, the interdependence of nations also took hold, and steadily grew stronger. In today’s world, there are few pieces of information that go unreported by news agencies that are spread across the globe. These include reports ranging from terrorist attacks in the Americas, Europe and the Middle 1 7 Tips for Success: 2 Glossary of American Government Terms: Date Accessed: 7 December 2004 3 “Communication Satellites: Making the Global Village Possible”, accessed 19 August 2004

R u t g e r s Mo d e l C o n g r e s s 2 East to the starving families in Africa, to the floods and typhoons in Asia. However, with the growing influence of the news media around the world, governments are being put under pressure to make certain decisions that have sometimes widespread repercussions, even if their decisions may not be in the best interest of the country at that time. This pressure stemmed from the fact that the mass audience of the country would be able to make knowledgeable decisions based on what they have learned from the news that they were provided by corporations such as CNN and BBC. This sort of access to government and decision-making calls into question the extent to which the media should have influence over operations of government. Before addressing this concern, it is important to not only understand who and what are behind mass media, but also how much influence the media really has over political events. Background The 21 st Century has seen rapid development with respect to the communication field. Over the last hundred years, the media has evolved from the penny press to the radio and television to most recently, the Internet. During this evolution, the spread of the media and its influence has grown exponentially, especially in the international community. Prior to the era of mass communication, relations between nations were carried out behind closed doors, with appropriately heavy reliance on secret diplomacy in order to ensure that vital information to a nation’s strategic plan, economically or militarily, were not leaked out to the “enemy.” 4 However, as time progressed and newer forms of the media were introduced, the influence of the news media reached the point in which governments were forced to conduct their meetings in the open and face public scrutiny over their decisions. This move forced politicians to be accountable for their actions because there was now a real-time manner in which the population could respond to important decisions. No longer could these decisions be kept secret or not widely published. Even before the age of CNN and BBC, the news media has had a long history 4 McNair, Brian, An Introduction to Political Communication, (London, Routledge, 2003), 187

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