In each of these cases, travel to sensitive areas of the world is framed in a variety of ways depending on the nature of the visit. McCainâ€™s visit was met with disdain from local Iraqi vendors:
“They were just making fun of us and paid this visit just for their own interests,” he said. “Do they think that when they come and speak few [sic.] Arabic words in a very bad manner it will make us love them? This country and its society have been destroyed because of them and I hope that they realized that during this visit.”
“They were laughing and talking to people as if there was nothing going on in this country or at least they were pretending that they were tourists and were visiting the city’s old market and buying souvenirs,” he said. “To achieve this, they sealed off the area, put themselves in flak jackets and walked in the middle of tens of armed American soldiers.”
Given the global media saturated environment, it should come as no surprise that local voices are often heard responding to US delegations overseas, defying the intent and image of US officials traveling abroad. Speaker Pelosiâ€™s trip was met with more domestic criticism than international, signaling the divide between party lines and branches of
The presence of official delegations in sensitive areas highlights three principles relative to globalized media. First, traveling abroad is not a static event, meaning that mediated events can be read from a variety of perspectives, many of which are simultaneously contradictory. Rather than having a single interpretation, travel is fluid and read with competing interests and interpretations. What may be intended as a simple fact-finding mission could be interpreted very differently under the global media spotlight. Local perceptual filters may depict the visiting officials in a variety of ways, reinforcing local interpretations of what their presence means. In other words, local people and media often reread the presence of prominent U.S. Americans through perspectives that are culturally unfamiliar and sometimes oppositional to US interests. The intent of the visitors, however benevolent and altruistic, may be irrelevant. McCainâ€™s experience in
Communication scholar Robert Entman (1993) notes that:
Framing essentially involves selection and salience. To frame is to select some aspects of a perceived reality and make them more salient in a communicating text, in such a way as to promote a particular problem definition, causal interpretation, moral evaluation, and/or treatment recommendation (p. 52, emphasis in original).
Because of the fluidity of local re-readings, traveling delegations can be framed and reframed, which alters the external and mediated perceptions of the original events. For example, Pelosiâ€™s visit to
The selection of particular details of overseas travel should give
In the case of travel to sensitive areas, US officials should be aware of the possibility that their actions will be oppositionally framed. One member of McCainâ€™s delegation, Rep. Mike Pence (R-IN) compared the Shorja marketplace to a â€œnormal outdoor market in
In global mediated environments, messages transcend local, national, and international boundaries. As stated in a recent CSC white paper, single messages, designed for local audiences, reach beyond the scope of intention to unexpected, unfamiliar, and sometimes unfriendly sources. Recognizing the complex system of globalized media should be a first principle of traveling governmental representatives. Additionally, as recently proposed by the CSC, US officials should embrace pragmatic complexity, especially the recognition that, once they leave our hands and mouths, messages are out of our control.
Â· Entman, R. M. (2003). Projections of power: Framing news, public opinion, and
Â· Scheufele, D. A. (1999). Framing as a theory of media effects: Journal of Communication, 49(1), 103-122.