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The nation brand – obstacles and possible solutions in a tough international environment

The purpose of the “The Mannequin Escape” as an advert is to brand Sweden as a country of fashion. It is supported by VisitSweden which is Sweden´s official travel and tourist information company and “Going home to fashion, Stockholm” is a call to the public (especially fashionistas) to visit the capital city of Sweden where trends in fashion appear “faster than in Oslo”. (Svenskefilmer:YouTube 2012)

The names of states around the world are often associated with certain words, may they be positive or negative. Simon Anholt, an independent policy advisor, author, researcher and speaker on nation brands, points out a few stereotypical but common examples: “Nigeria? It’s those scam emails. Japan? Technology, expensive… Britain? Posh, boring, old fashioned. Switzerland? Clean and hygienic. Sweden? Switzerland with sex appeal.” (The Guardian 2006)

The question is if nation states are able to handle the complex work on nation branding (like a scholar in favor of the elite model would suggest) or if the international system has become so complex that other international actors become obstacles that affect nation brands negatively, beyond the control of states, like a scholar in favor of the pluralist model would argue. (Smith et. al. 2012:169-171)

This piece of work is made to examine obstacles like terrorism, diseases and the spread of controversial and harmful international news, films and video games. There will be a short evaluation if the states can prevent or decrease these negative impacts on foreign publics and enhance the nation brand or if they are out of states control.

Fig. 1. A beautiful view of Switzerland, that was ranked as number one on the FutureBrand Country Brand Index 2012. ((Future Brand 2012, Geonice 2014)

The competitive market and terrorism

In an increasingly interdependent but competitive world, states are highly involved in a game about limited resources, stimulation of export business and a hunt to attract tourism, talents and foreign investments (FDI). To be able to “play this game” successfully, nations need developed distinctive brands, effective branding and marketing techniques (Fetscherin and Marmier 2010) and a dynamic, international network of state, business and NGO relations, that can, for example, restore flawed international credibility, stimulate international relationships and increase international political influence. Nation branding is a complex, politicized and multi-year process, where a positive nation brand takes years to develop, but can be destroyed within minutes. (Fetscherin and Marmier 2010)

In this complex system it is possible to see that non-governmental extremist groups like al Qaeda, al Shabaab, Boko Haram and Hezbollah also operate more advanced due to developed technology. If the name of a state is constantly connected to terrorism in international news channels like for example al Jazeera, BBC or CNN, that state (or even region) gets negative publicity, when it comes to for example stability and political and security policies, and a pessimistic picture of the state is created among foreign publics, investors and business men, which may cause a negative trend regarding tourism, business, economy and foreign relations. In 2011, “the areas most impacted by terrorism were the Middle East, Pakistan, India and Russia with 7473 fatalities…”. (ReliefWeb 2012, Vision of Humanity 2011)

Some harmful events (both for victims but also for the countries that were targeted as regions for terrorist networks) were the 2001 terrorist attacks in the USA, the Bali bombing in 2002, the 7th July bombings in United Kingdom 2005, the bombings of a train in Madrid, Spain 2004, the Mumbai terrorist attacks in 2008, (Sciolino 2004, Home Office 2006:15,19, 9/11 Memorial 2014) the bombings of the U.S. Embassy in Kenya and Tanzania 1998, and the shootings at the Westgate mall in Kenya 2013. (Home Office 2006:15,19, 9/11 Memorial 2014, Reuters 2013) However, these kinds of events and negative effects on the nation brands can be controlled and prevented by an update of security policies and operations, (Home Office 2006:15,19, 9/11 Memorial 2014, NewsXLF 2013) international cooperation and strategic improvements regarding foreign policies and communication. However, not all states are able to easily enforce structural improvements and some high risk states like Pakistan, Nigeria and Kenya (Vision of Humanity 2011) might struggle, partly because of corruption, unstable institutions, but also because groups, classified as terrorists, have a strong foothold in certain regions of the countries. (NCTC:Boko Haram 2014, NCTC:Al Qaeda 2014, Reuters 2013, NewsXLF 2013)

On the other hand, it is possible to control and prevent terrorism by closer and improved cooperation (for example between Kenya, UK, USA and Israel)(BBC News 2013) and help to update security systems both nationally and internationally, which will also will be in the interest of other states, if the terrorists are posing a treat to the international system and/or an interconnected stability.

George Musamali, a security analyst, tells BBC News about the shootings at the Westgate mall 2013, Kenya (the largest economy in East Africa) and how the lack of leadership, discipline, coordination, instructions and information regarding both the military and the police, caused confusion and resulted in several officers being shot to death by their own forces. The CCTV cameras also show soldiers looting the stores. (NewsXLF 2013) This event has spurred fear and increased hesitation among foreign investors and made damage to Kenya´s vulnerable brand. (ENCA 2014) The pessimistic down-process can be argued to be a consequence of a poor security system connected to a vulnerable security environment where al Shabaab had chances to use loop holes.

The problem with long-term diseases

Another threat to a nation´s reputation and economy is diseases and one example of that is the outbreak of the Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) which caused a global export ban, covering UK live cattle, and meat in 1996. In March 2006, ten years after the first outbreaks, the global export ban was lifted by the European Union but the questions of safety made both France and Germany very resistant, and the European Commission and the European Court of Justice had to warn and even take legal actions against these states (BBC News 2006) The BSE was a long-term issue where the British state authorities had not much of a chance to restore any reputation before the disease was classified as over and then the foreign public was highly suspicious. However, even if promotional campaigns for British beef did not have much of impact on the international fear, the quality of British science and vets played a role in calming the foreign public down (Leonard 2002:4) and this means that nation brands in general, can be restored by smart strategic communication and therefore its possible to say that a state and its network of cooperating actors may have difficulties to maintain or save the reputation during the process, but can gain control again when the disease is over by being well-organized and innovative.

Fig. 2. A cow skull. (Jueves 2013)

When soft power slowly kills

A different threat to nation brands at the international arena is when the brand is damaged by another actor´s soft power diplomacy like for example movies, TV-programs and video games. By looking at the list of banned video games, it is possible to see what games that are posing (according to the specific country) “harmful” pictures of specific countries. In China for example, all games that are considered to defame the Chinese government are banned. That includes Battlefield 4 (discrediting the national image and a threat to national security), (Sinha 2014) and Command and Conquer Generals and I.G.I-2 Covert Strike (posing a bad image of China and the Chinese army). (China Daily 2014) In Pakistan the video games Call of Duty Black Ops II and Medal of Honor Warfighter are banned because of giving a negative picture of Pakistan (Makuch 2013) and in Saudi Arabia, both Assassins Creed and Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare were banned because of violence and negative portrayal of Muslims and Arabs. (Henderson 2011)

Those games are banned in the countries that are put in a bad light, but on the other hand, they are spread internationally and therefore the negative perspectives abroad are maintained. That may challenge attempts of nation branding, especially for states that already struggle with negative reputations and a “weak status” on the competitive, international arena. However, there are counter-methods to decrease negative international influences (that are difficult to control) and instead provide a more diverse and positive picture, by having exchange programmes, seminars, training and conferences. (United States Department of State 2014) This will help in building real and virtual networks and is a chance to show foreign publics the complexity of the state and promote the good sides and outplay simplified stereotypes in video games, films and TV-channels maintained by NGOs, MNCs or other states. For example, research by the British Tourist Authority “showed that people who come to the UK invariably report that they leave the country with a more positive impression of it than when they arrived.” (Leonard 2002:14) Joseph Nye explains that the students are not converted when they go back home, but he or she will go back with a more sophisticated and complex idea of the state´s strengths and weaknesses. They may still be “critical of American policy on Israel or they will go back and be critical of American policy on capital punishment. But they will have a deeper understanding of why it is that American treat gun control differently than Europeans.” (Leonard 2002:14)

Swedish innovators take advantage of the international interest in gaming industry and boost the nation brand not only by producing and exporting computer games (like Battlefield) but by hosting DreamHack, the world´s largest digital festival with more than 22.000 players from all over the world (on every event). DreamHack is promoted on the official site of Sweden and is a smart way to draw attention and market the state as a high-tech and modern country by making people visit and have a real-life experience of their virtual interest and explore expos made by a row of international companies and Swedish universities. (DreamHack 2014, Sweden 2014)

Cross-border events to strengthen brands

It is of vital interest to build relationships with non-state actors and connect to grassroot-projects, especially within and between states of main importance, to enhance the power of the brand. One good example of a non-governmental project was the Formula 1 Global Marketing Challenge, “designed to bring U.S. and Saudi Arabian graduate and undergraduate students together in the wake of a post–9/11 mediated reality.” (Payne 2009) The students created a marketing communication plan for Saudi Arabia’s first ever international sports event, the Formula 1 Speed Boat Race, and this intercultural communication activity with individuals from diverse backgrounds, religions, political climates, and cultures showed that public diplomacy efforts outside the usual state-centric domain may increase and strengthen nation brands, cross-border cooperation and credibility. (Payne 2009) Therefore, it is important that state authorities develop their networks to directly or indirectly support non-governmental activities and exchanges, since they can increase positive relations instead of negative public opinions created by damaging publicity and actions. This method is very different from simple nation branding and selling messages, since it involves real-life exchanges and people are given a whole picture of the country.

If the country has the chance to host world events like the Olympic Games (Olympic.org 2014) the World Expos (EXPO 2020: Dubai, UAE 2014) or the Eurovision Song Contest (Eurovision Song Contest, Copenhagen 2014) the state will be able to boost the nation brand, especially since foreign audiences will take part of the event in real-life or through media, since these kinds of events get a lot of international media attention. For example “with over eighteen months of celebrations and international coverage—from the Royal Wedding to Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee—brand UK has captivated millions around the world. However, garnering approximately 900 million viewers, over six million visitors and 100,000 hours of broadcast coverage, the 2012 Olympic Games were the pivotal moment in showcasing British heritage, pageantry and nostalgia”. (Future Brand 2012)

The World Expos are key events for “the global community to share innovations and make progress on issues of international importance such as the global economy, sustainable development and improved quality of life for the world’s population.” (EXPO 2020, 2012) In 2020 the Expo will be held in Dubai (the United Arab Emirates) and the first Expo ever to be hosted by a Middle Eastern city. The event will cost about 8 billion USD to organize, but is expected to deliver 23 billion USD in revenue (BBC News World 2013, ExpoPlatform 2013) and additional, positive worldwide attention to the city and region.

New media and Diplomacy 3.0

On the other side, both events and exchange programmes are very expensive and reach a limited number of people at special occasions, plus they may not be possible choices for every state. These are some reasons why public communication need to be developed and increasingly used as a two-way, interactive tool based on social media and the internet. Even though the quality of the engagement will not be the same as that achieved through traditional and expensive face to face programmes these tools have proved to be useful in main events like Barack Obama´s presidential campaign 2008 (Lipton 2009:2), and the 2011 Arab Spring revolutions and elections. (Hussain and Howard 2012:16) The new media tools will increase opportunities to interact with foreign audiences and gain influence in a complex, contemporary, international system, especially for less well-known states with limited, traditional power capabilities (like size, military power and economic strenght). (Batora 2005:1) Further support for the importance of new media as public diplomacy and branding tools are that states at the top of the The FutureBrand Country Brand Index 2012 like Switzerland and Sweden (that are ahead of technology and communication) are taking the digital advancement seriously. (Future Brand 2012, Future Brand 2014) Sweden, for example, is promoting the Diplohack, which is a multidisciplinary event, made to develop models for how digital diplomacy can contribute to real world change (Wired.co.uk 2014) and Carl Bildt, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs and an active user of Twitter, argues that traditional diplomacy will remain but that more of the discussions made behind closed doors should be done in the public domain. “Whether this is the start of Diplomacy 3.0 remains to be seen, but it’s a start of something new. We´re still at the very early stages of something and its not going to replace all diplomacy in the world but it will fundamentally transform interactions between governments and people all across the world.” (Wired.co.uk 2014, TEDx Talks:YouTube 2014)

Hear Carl Bildt, the Swedish Minister of Foreign Affairs, talk about the internet as a network of power for free societies, democracy and digital diplomacy. (TEDx Talks:YouTube 2014)

Innovation and cooperation

State authorities can handle most negative effects like terrorism and negative publicity on nation brands by being innovative and open for international cooperation. However, some countries have a greater ability to successfully make themselves through, than a vulnerable state with less national stability and weaker status at the international arena. In this kind of a state, the security systems needs to be improved, so foreign investors and tourists can be safe, which is of fundamental importance if the nation branding is going to be fully successful. Further developments regarding for example foreign and national policies and actions plus reduction of corruption may also increase a good reputation, regardless what state.

Exchange programmes and world events are great opportunities to show the global community the good sides of the state, but often they are extremely expensive. Therefore, a more advanced public communication system gives loads of opportunities to reach foreign publics and promote, communicate and discuss various issues. Public diplomacy connected to nation branding, must constantly be updated so the states will be able to successfully compete and cooperate, since “switching from polo on horseback to water polo does not change the principals or their objectives, but the contest is still profoundly transformed by the change in setting.” (Kirshner 2006:1)

Twitter has 241 million monthly active users and is increasingly being used by diplomats like for example Vegard Ellefsen, Norway´s Ambassador to NATO ( ), William Hague, British Foreign Secretary () and Susan Rice, the United States National Security Advisor () to communicate with followers and update on various issues. (Follow Diplomats on Twitter 2014) However, Twitter is also used by the general public as a tool of gossip and fun and this music video reflects both sides of the coin. (AVbyte 2013)

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State, Non State Actors in Public Diplomacy

State, Non State Actors in Public Diplomacy

 

The notion of public diplomacy has been closely associated with foreign policy, and definitions still appear unclear although the general consensus among theorists and analysts is that diplomacy has often been about state pursuit.

 

With globalization on the rise, the number of political players is also peaking, the friction that globalization is creating is causing these new civil society players to embark on new journeys of political, economic, religious and social journeys in the pursuit of increasing legitimacy, credibility and sovereignty in the global arena.

 

Bearing in mind that the topic of ‘non state actors’ and its sphere is so broad, it is best to narrow down the types of players according to popularity, legitimacy and more importantly their effectiveness in either; promoting new or restoring ideals and representing the people’s interests before international institutions.

 

It is the notion of democracy that has encouraged the emergence of these new actors because originally and traditionally, public diplomacy has always been carried out by states as they have the sovereign power to formulate policies. Now because of the level of freedom and the amount of acquired legitimacy that some of these organisations have, redefining the concept of ‘public diplomacy’ has to be revised as it no longer applies to one arm of the body of politics (state institutions) but the degree of their legitimacy allows them to exercise a certain amount of power. How much power is debatable but their effectiveness will certainly be analysed.

 

In this present day, because of the presence of these actors and their movements, those such as the ‘occupywallstreet’ ‘UK Trade unions’ and ‘those in the ‘Arab Spring’ their purpose and ongoing presence almost and constantly forces political institutions to reconsider their functions in order to remain accountable and ensure that their credibility is intact and that the confidence of the citizens is not lost. So it then becomes ‘exposure vs. reassurance; firstly, exposure by non-state actors and finally the reassurance made by ‘state actors’ and this is what public diplomacy has become today.

 

The existence and expansion of non-state actors seems to be transforming politics. This transformation has of course been instigated by globalization, the impact of new technologies and the increasing utilization of new communication tools via social networking, and a rise of a powerful civil society.

 

The idea that these actors are numerous is plausible but the question is how qualitative are their operations. Indeed they are increasing their autonomy and are beginning to create new policies and mandates. For instance the benefits that multinational corporations come with tend to be embraced by politicians since they tend to give leeway to the propositions that MNC’s make, Furthermore, some NGO’S have proven to be as effective as states as they have demonstrated their functionalities through contributions in humanitarian catastrophes. A perfect example is the Haiti earthquake of 2010; World vision, the Christian aid organisation and 4 other organisations contributed towards the rebuilding of lost and damaged shelter, the distribution of bottled water and water supplies including various other social services, tangibles & intangibles, all collectively equalling to over £1billion dollars separate from internal & external governmental agencies that were also on the support wagon to rebuild Haiti.

Furthermore, the demonstration of the adjustment of security boarders and parameters by international terrorist groups such as the AL QAEDA, AL Shabaab; a more specific and recent example being an attack on Nairobi’s premiere shopping Centre on September 21, 2013 resulting in 67 deaths. When observing the capabilities and effects of these actors mentioned above it can be assumed that in a sense they attain a certain degree of ‘Political Authority’ from their capacity to advocate human rights, setting new political, economic, social and religious agendas and finally forming new regulations in whatever sphere of Politics & International Relations, whether that be social movements, fundamental or extremist religious groups, think tanks and many more social & advocacy organizations.

 

 

It must be assumed that the state remains sovereign and holds onto majority of the power, certainly an amount of a larger degree than any inferior players in politics could attain. In most cases this cannot be altered and in theory shouldn’t. However, these non-state actors that are operating in conjunction with states have and are constantly introducing new kinds of diplomatic relations and functions and therefore different approaches should be taken to accommodate the varying natures of the political scenarios that will arise in the near enough future as they sometimes offer insight and expertise that enable them to surpass the capabilities of states. Whether they will become as powerful as states is highly unlikely unless of course they receive a greater level of autonomy, political authority and most certainly economic and or military might which in this post-cold war era is merely impossible.

 

 

 

http://files.isanet.org/ConferenceArchive/58816b94a39845d9a5b618ae52e7c80c.pdf

 

http://www.humanosphere.org/2013/01/three-years-later-was-the-massive-humanitarian-response-in-haiti-a-success/

 

http://www.clingendael.nl/sites/default/files/20111014_cdsp_paper_jmelissen.pdf

 

PAUL SHARP & GEOFFREY WISEMAN, AMERICAN DIPLOMACY, AUGUST 2011

 

JAMES PAMMENT, NEW PUBLIC DIPLOMACY IN THE 21st CENTURY (A comparative study of policy & practice) 2013

Sport and diplomacy do they mix?

by

The sport is a mirror of society , it seems. This is certainly a relevant statement when it comes to international diplomacy ! Sport is a tool that exacerbates existing tensions and pacifying relations between States wishing to engage
Increasingly publicized in the twentieth century , sport has gradually become a political forum which strategic issues sometimes compete with physical feats . Major sporting events can now be followed by millions of people around the world, making the host country and the target participants of international attention and allowing politicians to use the image of their country and conveyed to initiate or influence international negotiations. This is called diplomacy sport.
Sporting achievements can participate in the prestige of a state and spread a positive image among the international public opinion, thus reinforcing what international politics is known as soft power ( soft power ) , that is ie the ability of a state to use its political, economic and cultural influence to influence the acts or omissions of his peers. It is therefore possible that the football prestige of Spain leads us unconsciously to positively change our image of this country yet in financial difficulty.

The political use of sport can have a positive or negative impact on diplomacy, but will never be an excuse to changes previously required by States. Indeed, when between two states the political situation is tense, sport can be a vehicle of reconciliation provided there is a genuine desire to change. Sport then used as a pretext to trigger the resumption of cordial relations , but must be part of an overall strategy.
The organization of the event itself requires a diplomatic dialogue must determine the date and place of the meeting taking into account the political interests of all participating States and must be adjusted to the political magnitude of the event grade dignitaries will go there . The presence of diplomats on this occasion indeed give rise to very free informal discussions , and no official challenge , which facilitates decision- contact.
India and Pakistan are big fans of this method: their shared enthusiasm for cricket provides great media and political manipulation games opponents , which led until 2005 remarkable parallels between these two states despite the importance of their disagreements.

Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, centre back, and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, fourth from left at back, shake hands with Pakistan players ahead of the Cricket World Cup semi-final match between India and Pakistan in Mohali, India, Wednesday, March 30, 2011.
Ping Pong has also played an important role in the history of diplomacy as the Cold War limited direct contact between the great powers , the U.S. table tennis team was invited in 1971 to visit a week in China. A year later it was the turn of President Nixon to visit Mao Zedong , while urging the Chinese Prime Minister to assert that ” never before in history had the sport been used so effectively in the service of international diplomacy ” . In November 2011, the ping- pong led to new rival powers to gather at a sporting event in Qatar, where guests were (among others) North Korea and South Korea , India and Pakistan, China and the United States.
But if sport can help in solving conflicts, it can also endorse , or even worse , as was the case for the ” football war “. In 19ANDISHEH NOURAEE69, the games of the World Cup football match between Honduras and El Salvador have been the trigger of a four-day war that killed 2,000 people. Territorial conflict was between the two states for more than 30 years and led them to cease diplomatic relations , but the chance of the draw for the World Cup with the designated opponent , political issues were exacerbated by the nationalistic pride after sport.

 

Social Media in diplomacy

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Nowadays, Internet is an increasingly important part in our daily lives. We use it for multiple purposes : contact email, search for information, research the news , contact relatives and many other things. Beyond web pages “classic ” social networks also gain immense popularity. Facebook , Twitter , Tumblr, Linkdin , Google+ or Instagram actually gather every day new followers.
The political class is no exception to this rapid expansion of the Internet . Indeed , politicians are using it more and more to display their programs and promote their campaigns. They do this through personal websites , as well as through that of their party, but also through social networks. A growing number of politicians having a profile on one or more networks are observed. The most interesting example is the President of the United States, Barack Obama. It relies heavily in its communication plan on the use of these networks and has a team involved in maintaining its different virtual profiles. Obama has used it during his two election campaigns and continues tirelessly during the year of its mandate. It is present in nearly 15 social networks and even some dedicated to specific communities in order to reach the widest possible audience.
In addition to simply being popular , Obama’s presence on social networks is very valuable politically ; it happens through it to be closer to its citizens , and beyond since U.S. policy is followed outside its borders, and to promote his ideas quickly and easily .
On the morning of his first election , Barack Obama had accumulated 32’425’737 fans on Facebook, followers on 22’364’640 Twittervi and more 1’656’000 subscribers on Instagram . The presence of Barack Obama on Facebook , Twitter or YouTubeX it has intensified , aware of the advantage he could shoot. Indeed , social networks give voters the opportunity not only to follow the campaign, but also to participate. The fact , for example, retweet a post from Barack Obama helps to spread this message , the user becomes an active member of the campaign. This far exceeds the mouth because the community of social networking is huge. His communication is mainly based on simple messages, photos and graphics showing the main axes of its policy. Personal profile on

Barack Obama on Facebook

Facebook, and that of the White House are updated daily . One can find different content ranging from casual pictures of the president for political information, or videos of his speeches , through messages of support to his fellow citizens . His Twitter, Tumblr , Instagram or Google+ accounts show the same type of items .

Hold its constantly updated profiles allows Obama to account for its activities and thus to give a very active image; a way to remind his constituents that they had reason to trust him. However, if the use of social networks has been a huge success for Obama ( some studies suggest even he would probably never have been elected without this communication strategy ), it is not always successful for all men policies. In France , for example , the results were not very convincing for Francois Hollande or Nicolas Sarkozy .

 

 

Celebrities diplomats, and Africa in all this?

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Africa Map Gloss 285x300 Chapters

Celebrities diplomats, and Africa in all this?

The entry of African celebrities in politics is by no means a ‘fait divers’. Better than that, it is historical moments that are part of the quest for a “New Order National and African. Sports stars and music invade the political arenas. Liberian George Weah, the Senegalese Youssou Ndour burned politeness politicians to confront them on their own ground. Previously, the Congolese Joseph Kabasele sang with conviction and commitment to self-determination of Congo-Leopoldville, national unity and pride to be Congolese.

Youssou N'Dour performs at a concert called

The lead singer Youssou Ndour, 52 years. The artist with 20 albums is not the first celebrity from the world of entertainment (movies, music or sport) to engage in politics. He declared himself a candidate for the Presidency of the Republic in his country’s presidential in February 2012. Professional musician by trade, Youssou Ndour has become a big businessman, relying on an extensive network of media. It clearly displays its ambitions to its multinational group. Also, he believes that his candidacy is a patriotic duty “to do a better gift of self.” The first statements of Youssou Ndour are highly significant. They are both personal and social expression,a state of mind of any progressive man, an inventory of a nation. Finally, an event that precedes and accompanies any momentum change to break the status quo, diversify sources of progress. Before Youssou Ndour, another celebrety took the same decision. This is the Liberian George Weah, god stadiums and ball. While his country was torn by fratricidal war of the fiercest, he fully occupied the national football team of Liberia. Manager, coach, player, he was at once to single donor.

Once some calm returned to Liberia with the assistance of the international community, he thought fit to continue its work in the political field. He then ran for the Presidency of the Republic. As if to say that something does not work well in this area and a new impetus is needed. That there is a general fed up that elicits a reaction of any citizen. Nigerian writer Wole Soyinka had enoughl this caporaliste Nigeria, corrupt. He went beyond the mere writing. Same might be said of George Weah the horror of armed groups who decimated his country. Liberia was torn. He decided to take the place of politicians in the hope of picking up the pieces to build a
new country by giving Liberia on ways viable states.

African celebrities have always been at the forefront of large self-determination movements for the emancipation of Africa. Unless we despise their job and their place in society by taking them for letting to – account. DRC can be cited as an example. In fact, in the 50s, Adou Elenga broke the ice by singing “Ata Ndele …”. Translate “Sooner or later.” He said that the history was irreversible; the inevitable and unavoidable change. He denounced as poor governance, the colonial oppression.  But then was arrested, thrown in jail, nothing helped. The time has come to give reason for his song remains of topical.

 

INFORMATION WARS: THE MEDIA DURING AND AFTER 9/11 & U.S RELATIONS WITH THE REST OF THE WORLD

 

 

The 9/11 attack on the World Trade Centre is arguably one of the most catastrophic events ever recorded in history that received a lot of media coverage, especially considering that this was an attack on what symbolized the power of a Super nation. Global media coverage by various media outlets was inevitable, ultimately resulting in broadcasting for days, weeks, and even months. Some argue that this catastrophe sparked a new phase in historical war in which global terrorism exploded which certainly comes across as plausible. Countries worldwide particularly in the West embarked on some form of backlashing based on what was claimed to be on the grounds of political repression and intervention using military means. Inevitably and not unexpectedly, the opposition (Iraq) were pushed into a corner and forced to do nothing but stand in defence with the hope of maintaining and preserving their sovereignty, culture and image, of course this being done over a period of time between 2001 and today in ways that the rest of the world viewed as extreme. It is arguable that publics from the United States were dramatically shaken by the event, as they had the revelation of the high levels of vulnerability they were exposed to.

 

Many argue that the Bush – Cheney administration manipulated the fear experienced by the U.S citizens in order to justify the action to go to war in Afghanistan and Iraq and it was all made possible through the U.S mainstream media. Representations of the event between external states differed; the different media outlets in each state took different approaches in defining the nature of the catastrophe and this is what made it difficult for analysts themselves but more importantly the publics to draw a line as to what, why and how this happened. Some countries such as the U.K represented international solidarity where others such as the left wing political circles in France took a more critical, if somewhat cynical approach.

 

 

The daily telegraph alongside the elite papers such as ‘The Times’ were said to represent 9/11 similar with the ideologies as right-wing conservatives, showing sympathy to the U.S  and being strongly critical and sceptical of global terrorism while left-wing papers such as the Guardian were more critical of U.S agendas and policies concerning foreign intervention. Similarly with the Daily telegraph, the French newspaper ‘Le Monde’ had the headline which translated: we are all American’s’ which again displayed the French as not only having solidarity with the U.S but by siding with America based on that headline, they indirectly indicated that an attack on America is also an attack on France. It was once again the French left-wing  circles which showed disparity from President Chirac and the rest of the right-wing leaders as the newspaper titled ‘Libération’ highlighted on September 15 that 9/11 compared to other events such as the Rwandan genocide, an event just as drastic was not was not given as much response.

 

So what position of power does that put the U.S in? As some critics would call Bush’s military aggression and the overall make up of America a ‘Hyperpower’ it is plain to see that the U.S not only wields economic and military power judging by the size of their budgets in both areas, but America also capitalizes on the effects of this global village by controlling the helm of the global communications network. With many regional and proxy conflicts that take place around the globe, many of them go unrecognised but the new technology era has placed America in a position to demonstrate cultural power. Relations between France and America became tainted as France distanced itself simply because of the interpretations of Bush’s policies. The representation of the conflict also affected the relations of both countries and this is an effect of the power that the media possesses and shouldn’t as their sole purpose is to inform unbiasedly.

 

The representation of 9/11 not only affected U.S’ foreign relations but it also influenced the behaviour of other states. Germany was a country that was led to focus on the prevention of global terrorism by tightening their security especially when it was exposed that one of the 9/11 participants was Mohammad Atta who had resided in Germany prior to the event.

 

To conclude, the media representations of 9/11 blurred the lines between ‘war’ and ‘terrorism’ as the news unfolded. Information in the headlines was either updated or changed but in some cases not to the full scale as some information would have been inaccurate and some further going uncorrected and in the case of some corrections made, the information was still given far less prominence than the original information. In this entire process, viewers become Americanised and sucked into an abyss of fear that creates uncertainty even for countries outside of the U.S. Nevertheless, the emergences of new media in the Arab regions such as Al Jazeera are certainly opening new doors to dialogue as well as information dissemination as they are known to be more transparent. As new forms and platforms of communication are emerging, it would be interesting to see how this will affect U.S’ foreign relations with other countries and also how information will be transmuted to the global audience.

 

French right-wing paper

French right-wing paper

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Left-wing newspaper

Left-wing newspaper

Right-wing newspaper

Right-wing newspaper

 

 

 

 

 

REFERENCES

 

Tomasz Pludowski, How the World’s News Media Reacted to 9/11: Washington: Marquette Books, 2007

 

Brigitte L. Nacos and Oscar Torres-Reyna, Fueling Our Fears. Stereotyping, Media Coverage, and

Public Opinion of Muslim Americans, 2007

 

Douglas Kellner, International Journal of Communication 1 (2007) pge 124,125,126

See Douglas Kellner, From 9/11 to Terror War: Dangers of the Bush Legacy. Lanham, Md.: Rowman and
Littlefield, 2003, and Media Spectacle and the Crisis of Democracy. Boulder, Col.: Paradigm Press, 2005

 

The Guardian, September 12, 2003, accessed April 3rd, 2014.

 

http://www.LeMonde.fr, September 12, 2003, access April 3rd, 2004

 

IMAGES OF NEWSPAPER FRONT PAGES

https://www.flickr.com/photos/coneee/sets/72157612162010470/detail/

 

 

 

Catch it, Bin it, Kill it – the 2009 H1N1 and the role of media in risk communication and emergency risk planning

The H1N1 flu spreads in the same way as seasonal flu and the National Health Service in the United Kingdom alerts citizens to be careful when coughing, sneezing or touching surfaces, so further expansion of the illness can be prevented. (tarot1984:YouTube 2009, FLU.GOV 2014)

In 2009, the emerging infectious disease H1N1 or “swine flu” was discovered in Mexico, and by April 23 in 2010, 214 states and overseas communities and territories had reported at least 17 853 laboratory-confirmed deaths. (Smith et. al 2013:847) In cases of public health emergencies it is important that preparatory work (national and institutional) such as action plans regarding several possible scenarios, target groups and suitable channels of communications, have been made before any kind of outbreaks, so protective measures (both nationally and internationally) effectively will be practically fit into the situations if an eventual outbreak would occur. This means that risk communication systems (at both national and international levels) between authorities, the public health system, the public and a range of institutions are of main importance, both regarding preparation but also during an emerging crisis. (Pistol and  Streinu-Cercel 2013:164)

However, many obstacles exist regarding communication in connection to emerging pandemics, and the question is if the news media are playing positive or negative roles in these situations.

Fig. 1. A couple kissing while wearing masks against the H1N1. (Knight Science Journalism at MIT 2009)

News media – a key source for public information

Good risk communication is vital in an emergency situation since it demonstrates good leadership and ensures a stable public confidence in the central authority, reduces misinformation and spreads knowledge about how the public should respond to the crisis. (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg 2014, Pistol and Streinu-Cercel 2013:164) The news media´s framing of the story is shaping how the issues are going to be commonly understood by the public and therefore, news media play a prominent role in terms of informing about emerging health issues. (Smith et. al. 2013:847)

News media coverage “can link medical and public conceptualizations of health, turning medical findings into public knowledge and reveal risks not otherwise apparent” (Smith et. al. 2013:847) and therefore the ideal picture of a good risk communication during an emergency would be a sound cooperation between national health authorities/international organizations, local communities and news media, which would result in valid information being rapidly spread and constantly updated, which would increase the chance in reducing the negative effects of a pandemic. (Lutz 2013:9) Unfortunately, the reality is complex and this ideal picture far from common.

Fig. 2. H1N1 is a “respiratory disease of pigs caused by type A influenza viruses.”(Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2012) It usually does not infect human beings, but in 2009 the illness spread quickly in several states.(Better Health Channel 2011, Wake up people! 2009)

Communication challenges

The news media policies and framing of health messages often differ from each other, depending on what state they operate in and this can give significantly different outcomes regarding public’s perception of risk and related behaviour. This might lead to either a positive outcome (the public responds to valid information, follow guidelines and, if possible, get vaccinated) or a negative outcome (valid information has not reached the public, the public does not follow guidelines and do not get vaccinated). (Sandell et. al. 2013) One clear example of this situation could be seen in Australia and Sweden during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic crisis, and the news coverage in connection to “public perceptions of risk as expressed through the uptake of vaccinations.” (Sandell et. al. 2013)

The two states do normally have a similar immunization rate, but during the crisis 2009 the rates showed completely different numbers. Sweden had 60% in immunization uptake, while Australia only had an uptake of 18%.The way of communicating the health messages through various of media channels had been quite the same in both states, but the Swedish and Australian news media had displayed the news in different ways. “In Australia, responsibility was predominantly reported negatively, blaming various organisations for a lack of information, compared to Sweden where responsibility was placed on the community to help protect public health. Furthermore, there was limited self-efficacy measures reported in the Australian media compared to Sweden and Sweden’s media was more transparent about the uncertainties of the pandemic.” (Sandell et. al. 2013) This shows that the attitude of the news media has a large impact in the state regarding health safety, but since the state is embraced in a modern, interdependent and complex international system, the national attitude and outcome also plays a significant role internationally, since pandemics easily become transnational and spread quickly because of a large number of traveling people. This highlights that “governments need to actively incorporate the media into pandemic communication planning” (Sandell et. al. 2013), not only to protect the state but also to protect the international system.

Fig. 3. Some of the FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approved Swine Flu Masks (N95 Respirators) for use by the general public are 3M Particulate Respirator 8670F, 3M Particulate Respirator 8612F, Pasture Tm F550G Respirator and Pasture Tm A520G Respirator. Important to know is that many of the designer face masks are not approved for use during a pandemic. (WearaMask.org 2009, Jacques of all Trades 2009)

A journalist´s knowledge is of high concern

However, news media in democratic states are democratic tools and are meant to be critical towards authorities and therefore the responsibility to provide information and protect the system from humanitarian disasters should not only be put on the news media, but also governments, international institutions and organizations. Health authorities often lack in their work to effectively engage media in spreading the risk communication messages, often because they can not provide messages that are convincing and easily understood for the public. Also, they are unable to generate media attention without an immediate public health emergency, which prevents emergency preparation and disaster resilience. (Lutz 2013:9)

On the other hand, many journalists tend to be unfamiliar with pandemic health issues and unaware of the importance of emergency risk planning and do not take into account that health authorities sometimes have to base decisions on imperfect information, particulary in the early stages, when news coverage usually peaks. (Lutz 2013:9)

The problem with those peaks during the earliest days of outbreak is that the information include high levels of uncertainty and focus on the spread of the virus. When the information has started to become more stabilized and focused on the systemic or individual level response, the newsworthiness seems to have declined and the media interests have already waned (Smith et. al. 2013:851) and therefore there is a risk that the pandemic might continue and even increase because of ignorance. This could be seen globally among several news channels around the globe during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. (Smith et. al. 2013:850)

Watch Staph Sergeant and his army of germs go bananas while trying to take over the world. But…do not fear. The PDI agents are here to save us all. This quite amusing US program for children is made by the Florida Department of Health and shows how to stop the spread of the H1N1 flu. (orchdept./Florida Department of Health:YouTube 2009)

Building on past experiences

However, highly critical and negative action from both the news media and the public may build on previous negative experiences and outcomes regarding for example vaccination. One example of that is the vaccine called Pandemrix which was used against the H1N1 2009. This vaccine should have been secure and effective according to for example the Medical Products Agency in Sweden (Läkemedelsverket 2012), but has been reported by American scientists to increase the risk or even cause narcolepsy (Science Translational Medicine  2013), which have been shown in for example Sweden were hundreds of children are suffering from narcolepsy after 2009 when they were vaccinated. (Svenska Dagbladet  2013, Dagens Nyheter 2013, Sveriges Television 2013)

It is yet too early to see if these negative consequences might show negative reactions among the public and the media in the future, but unfortunately there might be a risk. This shows that it is not only the communication that is of importance, it is also about what is being promoted and practically being given. If a vaccine is causing severe damage, there might be a high risk of an undermining of stable public confidence in the central authority, which can cause serious, destabilizing consequences in the democratic system.

Fig. 4. If people are going to follow the directions given in the future, the authorities must be able to ensure that a vaccination does not cause negative, non-reparable side effects. (Science Translational Medicine  2013, CBC News 2009)

Valid information and cooperation

The media coverage is of main importance in the work of preventing pandemics and can cause both negative and positive reactions. The negative reactions happen when the understanding of the vulnerable situation and the information is limited and blaming and sensational news are high. On the other hand, the positive reactions happen when there is a dynamic understanding and handling of the available information and that is why the news media should be included together with national health authorities / international organizations and local communities in risk communication and emergency preparation work. One suggestion is to do as the Canterbury District Health Board in New Zealand who involved producers and senior editors in monthly planning meetings. These meetings decreased shroud-waving, sensation and conspiracy theories and instead ensured that health officials and media leaders could discuss how and what information on health issues that was important to get out to the public. This kind of long-term, “planned engagement of the media, maximised the delivery of useful information to communities, compared with those where senior media leadership was not involved in the planning process.” (Lutz 2013: 9)

However, authorities have to make sure that what is being communicated and promoted to the public does not harm, otherwise there will be negative consequences in the future and an increasing risk of undermining a stable public confidence in the central authority, which in the end might cause a destabilized democratic system.

The symptoms of swine flu are unusual tiredness, headache, runny nose, loss of appetite, diarrhoea or vomiting, sore throat and aching of muscles. It is especially important for people who have chronic diseases or any other serious illness to not become infected, so do as the piglet says and wash your hands and cover your nose when sneezing. (NHS 2012, nanobugsinc:YouTube 2009)

Bibliography

Pictures

Fig. 1. Knight Science Journalism at MIT (2009) Swine flu stories spreading, possibly faster than the virus (Online)

Available at: http://ksj.mit.edu/tracker/2009/04/swine-flu-stories-spreading-possibly-fas

Accessed: 1st of April 2014

Fig. 2. Wake up People! (2009) We interrupt this heat wave for the following news – just FYI (Online)

Available at: http://wendyworn.blogspot.co.uk/2009_07_01_archive.html

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Fig. 3. Jacques of all Trades (2009) Just saw my first H1N1 flu mask on the Metro. (Online)

Available at: http://jacquesofalltrades.tumblr.com/post/199109009/just-saw-my-first-h1n1-flu-mask-on-the-metro

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Fig. 4. CBC News (2009) Delivering doses:Will you get the H1N1 vaccine? (Online)

Available at: http://www.cbc.ca/news2/pointofview/2009/11/delivering-doses-will-you-get-the-h1n1-vaccine.html

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

E-books and reports

Pistol, Adriana, Streinu-Cercel, Adrian (2013) RISK COMMUNICATION STRATEGIES USED IN THE 2009 PANDEMIC INFLUENZA A H1N1PDM. Acta Medica Transilvanica. dec2013, Vol. 18 Issue 4, p163-166. 4p. (Online) EBSCO HOST

Available at: http://0-web.a.ebscohost.com.emu.londonmet.ac.uk/ehost/detail?vid=9&sid=a01296ba-cd55-4d52-b0c2-e772d57707f0%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4204&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=92741644

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Lutz, Peter (ed.) (2013) Recommendations on Effective Risk Communication for Public Health Emergencies and the Role of Social Media. Asia-Europe Foundation Accurate Scenarios Active Preparedness (ASEF-ASAP) Project, 3-4 June 2013 | Bali, Indonesia (Online)

Available at: http://www.asef.org/index.php/projects/themes/public-health/2870-effective-risk-communication-for-public-health-emergencies-and-the-role-of-social-media

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Science Translational Medicine (2013) CD4+ T Cell Autoimmunity to Hypocretin/Orexin and Cross-Reactivity to a 2009 H1N1 Influenza A Epitope in Narcolepsy. Sci Transl Med 18 December 2013: Vol. 5 no. 216 pp. 216ra176DOI:10.1126/scitranslmed.3007762 (Online)

Available at: http://stm.sciencemag.org/content/5/216/216ra176.full.pdf?sid=90ab67f1-1d77-43e1-9d7c-5778270f961d

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Smith, Katherine C., Rimal, Rajiv N., Sandberg, Helena, Storey, John D., Lagasse, Lisa, Maulsby, Catherine, Rhoades, Elizabeth, Barnett, Daniel J., Omer, Saad B., Links, Jonathan (2013) Understanding newsworthiness of an emerging pandemic: International newspaper coverage of the H1N1 outbreak. Influenza & Other Respiratory Viruses. Sep2013, Vol. 7 Issue 5, p847-853. 7p. 2 Charts, 1 Graph. (Online) EBSCO HOST

Available at: http://0-web.a.ebscohost.com.emu.londonmet.ac.uk/ehost/detail?vid=6&sid=a01296ba-cd55-4d52-b0c2-e772d57707f0%40sessionmgr4004&hid=4204&bdata=JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db=a9h&AN=89854481

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Web pages

Better Health Channel (2011) Swine flu (Online)

Available at: http://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcarticles.nsf/pages/Swine_flu

Accessed: 1st of April 2014

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2012) Information on Swine Influenza/Variant Influenza Viruses. (Online)

Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/flu/swineflu/

Accessed 1st of April 2014

Johns Hopkins Bloomberg: School of Public Health (2014) Risk Communication Strategies for Public Health Preparedness. (Online)

Available at: http://www.jhsph.edu/research/centers-and-institutes/johns-hopkins-center-for-public-health-preparedness/training/online/riskcomm.html

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Läkemedelsverket (2012) Pandemisk influensa A(H1N1), vaccinet Pandemrix och antivirala läkemedel. (Online)

Available at:

http://www.lakemedelsverket.se/OVRIGA-SIDOR/Den-nya-influensan-H1N1/

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FLU.GOV (2014) H1N1 (originally referred to as Swine Flu) (Online)

Available at: http://www.flu.gov/about_the_flu/h1n1/index.html

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

NHS (2012) Swine flu (H1N1) – Symptoms (Online)

Available at: http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/pandemic-flu/Pages/Symptoms.aspx

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Sandell, Tiffany, Sebar, Bernadette, Harris, Neil (2013) Framing risk: Communication messages in the Australian and Swedish print media surrounding the 2009 H1N1 pandemic. (Online)

Available at: http://sjp.sagepub.com/content/early/2013/07/19/1403494813498158.abstract )

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

WearaMask.org (2009) FDA Approved Swine Flu Face Masks (N95 Respirators) (Online)

Available at: http://www.wearamask.org/fda.html

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Online news articles

Dagens Nyheter (2013) Vaccinerade löper större risk för narkolepsi. (Online)

Available at:http://www.dn.se/nyheter/vetenskap/vaccinerade-loper-storre-risk-for-narkolepsi/

Svenska Dagbladet (2013) Pandemrix länkat till narkolepsi. (Online)

Available at: http://www.svd.se/nyheter/inrikes/pandemrix-lankat-till-narkolepsi_8031664.svd

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Sveriges Television (2013) Tänkbar förklaring till narkolepsi. (Online)

Available at: http://www.svt.se/nyheter/vetenskap/orsaken-bakom-narkolepsi

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

Film

orchdept./Florida Department of Health (2009) Protect! Don’t infect!: Germ Wars. (Online)

YouTube

Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jDwrTJ9qqPM

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

tarot1984 (2009) UK Swine Flu Ad – Catch It, Bin it, Kill It (Online)

YouTube

Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zT9fxhrjoQc

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014

nanobugsinc (2009) H1N1 Influenza: AKA Viral Socialite (Online)

YouTube

Available at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fGBNZYEdtKg

Accessed: 2nd of April 2014