Clarifying the CNN Effect: An Examination of Media Effects According to Type of Military Intervention

By Steven Livingston

A paper by Steven Livingston, spring 1996 fellow, examines the “CNN effect,” or the concept that global, real-time media affects the conduct of U.S. diplomacy and foreign policy. Livingston first seeks to clarify what exactly is meant by the CNN effect. He then distinguishes different types of foreign policies, with different means, potential, costs (measured in dollars, lives, and political prestige) and sensitivities to media and public pressures. Livingston develops a typology of policy-media effects in the last half of the paper, demonstrating several different potential consequences for policy, some harmful, some beneficial, depending upon the nature of the policy objectives and media content.

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