Real-Time Television Coverage of Armed Conflicts and Diplomatic Crises: Does It Pressure or Distort Foreign Policy Decisions?

By Nik Gowing

A paper by Nik Gowing, spring 1994 fellow, challenges the idea that real-time television coverage of armed conflicts impact foreign policy decisions. Conventional wisdom is that real-time television coverage creates a demand that “something must be done” and drives the making of foreign policy. This paper argues that frequently the relationship is not as profound as conventional wisdom assumes, and that government officials strongly resist the pressure. TV coverage can sometimes increase humanitarian aid, but overall, Gowing finds that there is little or no policy impact related to television coverage of a conflict.

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