The development of the science of public diplomacy requires research into new experiences. Most researchers focus on the experience of America, which controls the international media system and the flow of news, and has media power that it uses to impose cultural colonialism. Therefore, I tried to search for international experiences that could provide different perspectives for the development of the science of public diplomacy, and reveal the capabilities of the media in building international relations, and contribute to liberating the science of media from dependence on America.
Building a new image of the state
The experience of South Africa is an important case that can show us how countries can use the media to build their image and develop their relations with people.. Why?
The image of South Africa was negative in the minds of peoples – especially the African peoples – for a long period of time, as a result of its practice of racial segregation (apartheid), and that image was one of the most important problems that faced Nelson Mandela and his government after 1994, so how was Mandela able to formulate a new foreign policy And using the media to build a positive image of South Africa that allows it to build long-term relationships with the people? How can we benefit from this experience in developing the science of public diplomacy?
South Africa – since Mandela won the presidency – has continued to develop its use of media diplomacy to build its international standing.
circumference of poverty
One of the most important ideas developed by Nelson Mandela and used by the media to spread it was: that South Africa cannot be a prosperous island in an ocean of poverty, so it must work to achieve development in the African continent through cooperation and participation with the countries of the continent.
This idea was one of the most important foundations on which Nelson Mandela built his strategy to build a new image for his country in Africa, but he also worked on using the media to promote new features of the image, the most important of which are:
- The new South Africa – in the post-apartheid phase – preserves human rights and works to protect them.
- His country is working to encourage the transition to democracy in all countries of the world, and this is a feature that impresses all peoples who aspire to freedom and yearn to participate in managing the affairs of their countries and investing their wealth.
- It works for justice in international relations and in the application of international law, and South African foreign policy has focused on depicting its efforts to ensure justice.
- They work to achieve world peace by searching for new and just means of resolving conflicts.
- Defending the interests of the countries of the African continent in international affairs.
- It strives to achieve economic development through regional and international cooperation.
How did Mandela use the media?
How was Mandela able to restore his state to the African continent, and turn it into an actor in global affairs, after he defined the foundations on which the state’s discourse is based? He discovered that the media can achieve his goals in building the image of the new South Africa, and that it is the most important tool of public diplomacy, so the Ministry of Foreign Affairs planned to use the media to broadcast messages continuously to explain its foreign policy, communicate with the masses, achieve the goals of public diplomacy, and build relations with African people .
Although South Africa tried to build a media force by creating new media aimed at reaching audiences on the continent, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs made a lot of efforts to build relationships with the media in all countries of the African continent, to broadcast many messages aimed at returning South Africa to the continent. and improve her mental image.
Building global standing
South Africa – since Mandela won the presidency – continued to develop its use of media diplomacy to build its international standing, as it set a goal for its foreign policy represented in increasing its role in building international relations at the global level, and considered that its status and active role in the African continent is the basis of its global position.
It is clear that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has succeeded in developing its activities in the field of public diplomacy and the use of the media in building its relations with peoples, as it planned to attract the masses in the world by using a set of messages about the new South African country that works to achieve peace and development, and it published these messages to improve its image At the global level, and many black-skinned media professionals used it to emphasize that it is an African country and that it has achieved equality between citizens, and this new image has opened up areas for trade exchange, economic cooperation and an increase in South Africa’s economic strength, and this illustrates the importance of the mental image in building strength solid state.
A case of success in changing the negative image
Therefore, all countries can benefit from studying the experience of South Africa, which proves that the country can change the negative image, and transform it into a positive image that increases its attractiveness and hard and soft power, and that the media can be used to build long-term relationships with people.
By using new features, South Africa was able to build its positive image, and used the media to promote it, and it was also able to develop the role of non-governmental organizations in the use of public diplomacy and media diplomacy, and this role was evidence that South Africa had turned into a democratic country working to protect human rights, The media of African countries covered the activities of the NGOs, thus South Africa linked public diplomacy and the use of the media to promote its new image.
Facilitate dialogues with officials
A study of the case of South Africa can show us the role that foreign ministries can play in facilitating press interviews with officials in the country, and issuing statements that clarify the country’s position on global issues, to turn into news in the media at the international level.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs also encouraged government institutions to increase the flow of news and information from South Africa to the world, and to contribute to covering events on the African continent.-
public participation programmes
Among the most important methods used by South Africa: programs that are based on public participation and turn into news published by the media, and these programs constitute a model of democracy, and arouse the admiration of the people; Whereas, these programs constituted possibilities for building a new positive image of the state based on the fact that it opens the way for public participation in a continuous dialogue on community issues.--
And because the African people yearn for dialogue as an alternative to violence, they have begun to look forward with admiration to the new model offered by South Africa, where a free democratic dialogue takes place, and thus South Africa won the minds and hearts of Africans, and this formed the basis for building long-term relations with the peoples.
A new relationship between media diplomacy and foreign policy
Therefore, South Africa succeeded in building a new relationship between media diplomacy and the foreign policy of the state, and one of the most important foundations on which this relationship is based is that the media plays an important role in building relations with peoples, and that it contributes to achieving success for all activities of public diplomacy and cultural diplomacy, and thus it occupies Public diplomacy has its central place among all types of diplomacy.
The study of the South African experience also shows that the relationship between the media and the government and its various agencies developed as a result of awareness of the importance of the role of the media in building the new image of South Africa and its international relations, so all ministries and agencies contributed to providing information to the media and establishing relations with journalists based on respect for their job in providing Knowledge for the masses and protection of their freedom to cover events and activities and to speak with officials, and freedom of access to news sources.
This new relationship between the government and the media people constituted a source of strength for the state, as the journalists played their role in building the regional and global position of a country that represents the African continent and defends its rights and interests, so the media professionals were able to influence the peoples of the continent to accept the new role of South Africa, and thus the journalists played a diplomatic role that is no less important On the role of professional diplomats.
in the African cultural context
The experience of South Africa also demonstrates the importance of the state working to build its mental image in the cultural context of its regional environment. Therefore, South Africa worked to develop the characteristics of the mental image on the basis of meeting the needs of the African peoples, and consistent with the cultural context of the continent. People and presenting South Africa to the people in the image of the state that plays a moral role.
By using the media, South Africa worked to influence the agenda of African countries to adopt issues such as cooperation, participation, and economic and social development, thus presenting itself as a country that plays a leading role in the post-apartheid phase, and that it works to achieve the interests of all African countries and peoples. Africa has a lot of activities, seminars and conferences that have turned into news published by the African media.
image and identity
The study of the South African experience shows the importance of linking the identity of the state and its mental image. Where it was able to present itself as a country that belongs to the African continent and bears its concerns and works to solve its problems, the most important of which is the achievement of development and democracy. Therefore, the African identity contributed to the acceptance of African peoples, and to the consolidation of the new image and increased exposure to the messages that the media spread about South Africa.
However, the scientific assessment of the activities of media diplomacy shows the confusion between media diplomacy and propaganda, and this constituted a source of weakness that reduced the possibilities of achieving success. Propaganda reduces the credibility of the media, and the masses can discover propaganda, especially in the era of the communication revolution, and the increased ability to obtain information from various sources. Therefore, the country’s success in using media diplomacy depends on disseminating correct information and not using propaganda.
Influencing media professionals in foreign countries
The study of the South African experience in media diplomacy shows the importance of influencing the attitudes of journalists and media professionals in other countries and using them to build a positive image of the country, but this must be done indirectly, while respecting the rights, freedom and dignity of journalists. This can be done by facilitating the work of reporters in covering events, and by meeting the requests of journalists to conduct interviews with officials and the public, and not imposing censorship on them, and opening sources of information and news to them; This increases journalists’ respect for the country and creates a positive image in their minds of it as a democratic country that respects freedom of the press. This is what South Africa did during Nelson Mandela’s rule, but it could not maintain this strategy at times.
It tried to directly influence journalists in Africa to achieve the goals of its foreign policy, and it also used, at times, the African media to manipulate the public and influence its feelings, to push it to forget the history of South Africa during the apartheid phase.
No control and advertising
Studying this experience shows us the seriousness of the role played by the ministries of foreign affairs in influencing the media and controlling their coverage of events and their use in spreading propaganda. Totally about advertising.
Therefore, the role of ministries of foreign affairs in public diplomacy must be based on building a relationship between the state and foreign correspondents, based on respect for their role and job in fulfilling the right of their audience to know.
Media power and influence on the public
The state’s success in influencing the masses and building its mental image depends on its media strength by creating credible media outlets that satisfy the public’s needs for knowledge. South Africa was distinguished by its media power in the African continent, which it was able to build in the post-apartheid phase, and used it to build its regional position and its new mental image. It also succeeded in playing an important role in shaping the policies of the African continent and building relations between its countries.. So can we benefit? From global experiences in building our future?