In This Review

Lights, Camera, War: Is Media Technology Driving International Politics?
Lights, Camera, War: Is Media Technology Driving International Politics?
By Johanna Neuman
St. Martin’s Press, 1996, 320 pp

A former White House and diplomatic correspondent and foreign editor for USA Today, Neuman began this book as an exploration of the so-called CNN effect in international politics. The conventional wisdom has it that global 24-hour television has transformed international relations and drives foreign policy, much to the distress of sober practitioners of the diplomatic art. Neuman has amassed a great deal of historical material arguing that new communications technologies, from the printing press to the telegraph, photography to radio, have always elicited expressions of horror from foreign ministries. In practice, politicians quickly learn how to exploit or control new technologies, and faster news does not change the options in international relations or the content of statesmanship. Neuman acknowledges that these technologies sometimes accelerate decision-making, a concession that requires further exploration. Nonetheless, this moderate and historically informed analysis is a welcome corrective to the prevailing CNN scare.