We now turn to political leaders who in past conflicts received almost exclusive entry, through the ‘front door’ (Wolfsfeld, 1997), to the coverage of war and terror. Politicians as ‘public representatives’ and ‘elite actors’ are still central figures in the reporting of violent conflicts, appearing on screen to mobilize or to offer reassurance to the nation in unstable moments. Many studies published in the last decade on the relationship between politicians and the media at times of crisis show how immediately following disastrous events (such as September 11), journalists within the nation state toed the line with the establishment (for example, Schudson, 2002; Zandberg and Neiger, 2005). However, with the decline of the nation state (Held and McGrew, 1998) and the emergence of new technological affordances and a global media environment, characterized by an ever-growing cynicism stance toward those in power has led to the weakening of political figures, and, in parallel, the strengthening of figures once considered peripheral or even illegitimate. We start this chapter by describing the traditional relationship between the three national institutions, and later point out transformations in the ‘classical’ description and the challenges that the new media environment poses to political figures: controlling the flow of information and mobilizing the public during national crises.
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