Media Analysis - EU External Perceptions - University of Canterbury - New Zealand

Media Analysis

"…the world consists of individual and national actors, and since it is axiomatic that action is cased on the actor’s image of reality, international action will be based on the images of international reality.  This image is not shaped by the news media… alone; personal relations abroad, diplomatic dispatches, etc., count too – whether less, equally, or more, we do not know.  But the regularity, ubiquity and perseverance of news media will in any case make them first-rate competitors for the number one position as international image-former…"[3]

Communication scholars are still debating the influence the media have on public opinion, but one thing is agreed upon: the media has a stronger impact in setting the public agenda in the area of foreign policy. In the political arena of foreign policy people have less first hand experiences with foreign policy issues than with domestic ones. Moreover, foreign issues tend to be less engaging and more complex to enter everyday communication between family, friends, neighbours, and co-workers. In this perspective, people are highly dependent upon the news media for information, and media representations of a foreign actor are viewed as a significant contribution into informing and educating the citizenship in order to participate in the domestic debate on foreign policy.  In recent years, observers have also begun to attribute to the news media new and autonomous capacity to influence the formulation and conduct of foreign policy. According to Peña [4], it is likely that the media have the potential to lead towards the modification of the policies being conducted regarding the events covered.

Studying news media is necessarily complex and requires diverse, eclectic methods [5].Media content analysis employed in the project is based on a two-fold approach -- first, the analysis of manifested, surface, extensive characteristics of an issue coverage, or formal characteristics; and, second, the analysis of the latent, in-depth, intensive mechanisms of image formation, or substantive features. A dual aspect of news -- news as a product and news as a process – was accounted as well.

Categories of Media Analysis


[3] Galtung, Johan and Mari Holmboe Ruge, “The Structure of Foreign News”, Journal of Peace Research, 1965, Vol. 2, No.1, 64-91, p.64.

[4] Peña, Mónica,News media and the foreign policy decision-making process, CNN or Washington in Razón y Palabra, N 32, Abril - Mayo 2003

[5] Cook, Timothy, Governing with the News: The News Media as a Political Institution, Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press, 1998.

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