Foreign Affairs Journalism
and World News
The University of Queensland
|Learning objectives||After you have completed this module, you will be able to: |
|Preview||Foreign Affairs Journalism|
Why we believe that Foreign Affairs Journalism is important
This module will provide you with a comprehensive and well-founded knowledge of foreign news coverage across the world. It aims to expose you to the complex issues that underpin foreign news coverage across cultures. This includes insights into the challenges that confront foreign news reporters, as well as the key qualities of a good foreign correspondent. Also examined are technological changes that have transformed journalistic practices across the world, the growing debate over the power of the media to influence foreign policy formulation, the factors that affect foreign news coverage, the role of the gatekeeper, and how news values and organizational policy affect foreign news selection. In the 21st century in which various parts of the world are experiencing different kinds of conflict, we will also discuss war reporting, including the strategies used by military authorities and war commanders to restrict media coverage of wars and conflicts. This study material also analyses the importance of journalism ethics in a globalized world.
All these issues are designed to broaden your knowledge of the foreign news reporting landscape and to familiarise you with the issues that underpin foreign correspondence in the electronic era.
Overview of this module
The relationship between media coverage of foreign affairs and the development of foreign policy has been discussed and debated by journalism academics, professional journalists and foreign policy officials for decades. One of the widely cited studies that addressed this subject was Bernard Cohen's (1963) book entitled The Press and Foreign Policy. In his book, Cohen focused specifically on the relationship between the press and foreign policy in the United States, in particular the implications for the foreign policy environment of journalistic practices such as news writing and production conventions, newsroom routines, and news definitions. Consequently, Cohen analyzed three main areas in which the press played various roles. These are the role of the press as an observer (i.e., the factors that determine how the press covers foreign affairs), the role of the press as a participant (i.e., how foreign policy officials make use of press coverage of foreign affairs), and the role of the press as catalyst (i.e., how the public uses the press to gratify its foreign policy news needs).
These three roles contribute to our knowledge and understanding of how the press influences the processes of foreign policy formation. However, we should keep in mind that the world is undergoing changes. For instance, technological changes that have transformed journalistic practices across the world have rendered irrelevant and obsolete some of the arguments made by Cohen in his book published nearly 52 years ago. For example, whereas it was fashionable to use the term foreign affairs reporter to describe journalists who covered diplomatic affairs or foreign news, today many news organizations use the term foreign correspondent to describe journalists who cover international events. So, while the foreign affairs reporter of the decade of the 60s was a specialist who covered news that related mostly to foreign affairs, the foreign correspondent of the modern era is seen more as an all-rounder who reports not only general news stories about events in foreign locations but also other genres of news such as business and economy, sports, entertainment, features, science and technology, and so on. Today's foreign correspondent is equally expected to be multi-skilled. He or she is expected to report across multiple news platforms such as print, broadcast and online.
To understand how world news coverage affects foreign policy making process, we have to examine the question: Who is a foreign affairs reporter and what role does he or she perform in society? This question lies at the core of this study material. In this study material, we examine the interlocking relationships between foreign affairs reporting and development of foreign policy. Also examined are the professional and ethical challenges that confront foreign correspondents in a globalised world, the transformations in technology that have affected journalistic practices and in particular models of foreign news reporting, the emergence of citizen journalists, as well as the continuing challenges that war correspondents face in reporting regional and international conflicts. This study material is organized into the following chapters:
The core focus of chapter 1 is on the foreign correspondent. In this chapter, we explore the challenges of foreign news reporting, including the key attributes of a good foreign correspondent (e.g., experience, energy, and expertise, incorporating language skills and cultural sensitivity, as well as knowledge of ethics and law).
Chapter 2 focuses on foreign news and how it is constructed by journalists. We examine the role of the media in defining, developing and strengthening foreign policy. We also analyze the relationship between media coverage of foreign news and formation of foreign policy. That is, the debate over whether foreign correspondents influence or contribute to the development of foreign policy. One example of the widely contested view is the concept of "CNN Effect" that is also related to the concept of "YouTube Factor". Associated with both concepts is the role of television in a post-Cold War foreign coverage. Other issues examined in the chapter include the role of the gatekeeper in the selection of foreign news, news values and how they influence the selection and coverage of foreign news, organizational (i.e., newsroom) policy and how it affects foreign news coverage, and war reporting, including strategies used by military authorities and war commanders to restrict media coverage of wars and conflicts. On this specific topic of war reporting, we look at the relationship between war correspondents and military authorities. Issues such as "Embedded Reporting", the "Pool System", and other methods used by military authorities to restrict media coverage of war are discussed.
Chapter 3, the final chapter, looks at foreign news reporting in a new environment. In this chapter, we examine methodically factors that affect foreign news coverage, and the economics of foreign news coverage (e.g., the practice of "Parachute Journalism").