Photojournalism And Foreign Policy

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Overview

David Perlmutter examines concerns over the interplay of pictures in the press, elite decision-making and public opinion on foreign policy. His focus is on certain celebrated, indelible images that, it is said, sum up famous events, provoke moral outrage, mobilize public opinion, and spur government action: the icons of outrage. Discourse elites thrust greatness upon such images as well as frame their meaning and interpretation. The public only plays a marginal role in making icons; ordinary readers and viewers are, however, often resistant or indifferent to elite interpretation and pretensions of outrage.

To explore these ideas, Professor Perlmutter offers a series of case studies in crises in American foreign policy and the images that came to define and affect them: the Tet offensive in 1968, the Tiananmen events of 1989, and the Somalia intervention of 1992-1994. In each case, icons became sites of political struggle and argumentation, tools of policy rather than masters of it. Actual effects on public opinion are rarely found. Presidents, diplomats, pundits, and journalists, when confronting news images, apply a first person effect, projecting onto all of America or even the whole world their personal reaction to an icon. As Perlmutter shows, the influence of icons of outrage lies in their ability to focus debate, not in any power of visual determinism. He concludes that rather than worrying about how pictures affect policy, more attention should be paid to how politicians manage, frame, and spin images to win support for policies. A provocative study for students, scholars, and the public concerned with visual communication, the mass media, and current international affairs.

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Product Details

Meet the Author

DAVID D. PERLMUTTER is Associate Professor at Louisiana State University's Manship School of Mass Communication and Senior Associate for Research and Grants at the Kevin P. Reilly, Sr. Center for Media and Public Affairs.

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Table of Contents

Series Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
1 In Search of Icons of Outrage 1
The "Problem" of Visual Images and Foreign Policy 1
Framing Images 5
Whose Icons Are They, Anyway? 9
Defining the Icon 11
Defining Outrage 20
Icons in Action 23
2 The "Magic Bullet" of General Loan: Tet, 1968 35
Framing the "Magic Bullet" 39
Measuring Public Reaction 47
The "Relevance" Context of Tet 50
Manufacturing Tet 51
3 The Consensus of Outrage: Tiananmen, 1989 61
Two Non-Icons of Tiananmen 64
The Man and the Tanks 66
Post-Tiananmen Views 71
Who Was the Man? 75
Who (in the World) Was Watching? 77
Managing Outrage 80
4 When Icons Collide: Somalia, 1992-1993 91
Getting In: Framing Intervention 93
The Context of Intervention 102
Getting Out: Framing the "Battle of Mogadishu" 105
Framing Outrage 114
Unasked Questions: The Frames Not Presented 116
The Icons of Arrogance? 120
5 Managing Icons of Outrage 125
App. A Comments on the Saigon Execution Incident and Image 137
App. B Descriptions of the Man Killed in the "Saigon Execution" 143
App. C Comments on Somalia Icons 145
Journalists and Commentators 145
Political Leaders 147
Selected Bibliography 149
Index 157
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