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The challenges of reporting foreign policy

RISJ Admin

Contributing Author

Kaijaleena Runsten writes:BBC Diplomatic Correspondent Bridget Kendall lists four simultaneous factors that make journalists' work in the field of international politics challenging: changes in geopolitics, erosion of the role of political elites, the rapid development of new information technologies, and new preferences of the audience.
The two decades after the end of Cold War have reshaped international economic and political power structures. The role of emerging countries such as China, Russia, India, Brazil and Turkey has increased, hence leaving the United States a diminished place as the leading power.
This has also meant a shift in the status of the United Kingdom: instead of being "among the top gear, it is just another large, yet middle-sized nation", as Ms Kendall puts it. Likewise, she sees a similar shift in the media field. CNN and the BBC World Service have been challenged by Al-Jazeera, and even more than that, by the multiple news sources of the internet.
Ms Kendall also acknowledges that summits, other big conferences, and speeches of strong political leaders have lost the power that they used to have in the 1990's. Today, she says, social media have the means to "rip off the emperor's clothes", meaning revealing corruption or other wrongdoings – something that only journalists were earlier capable of doing.
Ms Kendall thinks that despite all the rapid information flows, background briefings and contacts with reliable sources are now even more valuable to journalists.
Media is less of an observer, 'we are a part of the game tool box', she argues.
This carries dangers especially during political conflicts, where the media have an active role in the play.
According to Ms Kendall, journalists need to be constantly aware of the political consequences of their work. It also means that as well as seeking impartiality, the journalist now has to concentrate on revealing the truth, as in the abundance of entertainment there is more need for hard news than ever.