“Journalism and Public Diplomacy: Cross-National Perspectives”

Three USC Center on Public Diplomacy scholars are going to participate in the 56th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association. Visiting Professor Eytan Gilboa will chair a panel on "Journalism and Public Diplomacy: Cross-National Perspectives" where Center on Public Diplomacy Research Associates Shawn Powers and Amelia Arsenault will present papers. The other participants are Philip Seib from Marquette University, Evan Potter from the University of Ottawa. The discussant is Howard Tumber from The City University in London.

Panel Description:

The media provide the key transmission belts through which nations communicate with foreign publics. This panel will explore the critical role that journalists play in shaping how public diplomatic messages are formulated by political actors and transmitted across international boundaries via traditional and new media outlets, with an emphasis on broadcasting and the internet. The papers reflect a cross-national approach, highlighting the complex and multifaceted nature of the relationship between media and public diplomacy. Participants in this panel come from four countries, thus assuring true cross-national perspectives.

New Media and the Middle East
Shawn Powers
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Southern California

The continued development and influx of new media technologies is having decisive political and social implications on governments throughout the Middle East, though oftentimes in unexpected ways. Beyond rupturing a regime's ability to control the framing and distribution of information and news, new media technologies are offering up a virtual forum that allows for previously disenfranchised groups to communicate their opinions, criticisms, and demands. More importantly, what is becoming apparent is the role that new media technologies have in facilitating cross-cultural dialogues that are altering the ways citizens throughout the region construct and decipher images of other groups, states, and cultures. This paper will investigate the role that new media technologies have in challenging the ways in which Arab governments construct self-images to foreign audiences, and thus explicate a role that new media technologies will have in the political and social development of the Middle East.

The Changing Face of South Africa's International Broadcasting
Amelia Arsenault
Annenberg School for Communication
University of Southern California

Immediately following the collapse of apartheid, the South African government launched Channel Africa in 1994. Transmitted throughout the African continent, the channel was to be the flagship of South African public diplomacy, reflecting the spirit of the newly democratic South Africa and the voice of the "African Renaissance." In the intervening ten years, the face of South African broadcasting has changed radically due to the introduction of new media platforms, new technologies, and changes in journalistic norms. South African Broadcasting Corporation's (SABC) domestic channels are now available via satellite as are independent channels like MNET and Channel O. Moreover, the South African press, long considered a source of regime legitimacy under apartheid, has privatized and commercialized. This paper examines how these trends have altered the original vision of South African international broadcasting, complicating and often undermining government communication strategies with publics in nations through out the continent and beyond.

Public Diplomacy and Journalism: Tenuous Relations, Important Lessons
Philip Seib, Marquette University

As a system for providing information, public diplomacy has some kinship with journalism. But the purpose of most public diplomacy efforts is advocacy, not objective communication. Post-9/11 U.S. public diplomacy has emphasized being the source of “news” through projects such as Alhurra television and Radio Sawa, which are clearly designed to compete with indigenous media such as Al Jazeera, Al Arabiya, and the many other information outlets that are taking advantage of new communications technologies. These ventures are well-funded and well-meaning, but their effectiveness is frequently challenged. This paper will examine the performance of these American efforts and suggest alternative strategies that might enhance the credibility and long-term impact of public diplomacy as conducted by the United States and other nations.

Reaching out to the World: Canada's International Broadcasting for the
New Century

Evan Potter
Department of Communication
University of Ottawa

After international cultural and education, a major component of most countries' public diplomacy strategies is international broadcasting. Canada has an enviable record of connecting its citizens to the Internet and is the world's second largest producer of television programs. Yet, despite these favorable conditions and characteristics, Canada's International broadcasting through Radio Canada International and the French-language TV5 has been, for the most part, small and uncoordinated. The national presence in the cyber-world is more comprehensive and compelling. This purpose of this paper will be to examine Canada's international broadcasting system (with respect to both old and new media) to determine how well Canada is positioned to present itself as a 'model nation' in an increasingly competitive global marketplace of "national ideas" and image.


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