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Demands of a Transnational Public Sphere: The diplomatic conflict between Joseph Chamberlain and Bernhard von Bülow and how the mass press shaped expectations for mediatized politics around the turn of the twentieth century

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Scholarship on media and politics presumes a ‘mediatization’ of politics over time, which overlooks the evolution of a mediatized public sphere that shaped people’s understandings of what actually constituted politics. This article investigates the public sphere to demonstrate how it created expectations for politicians and journalists within the process of the mediatization of politics. To understand how political behaviour changed as a result of mediatization, this article focuses on the turn of the twentieth century, when politics faced an emerging mass press. It analyses one of the most violent episodes of the ‘press wars’ between Germany and Britain before the First World War. In 1901, British Colonial Secretary Joseph Chamberlain allegedly insulted the German Army, to which German Imperial Chancellor Bernhard von Bülow reacted aggressively, resulting in a media storm across Europe and the failing of the British-German alliance talks that paved the way for Britain’s Entente Cordiale with France. Part of the reason why this situation escalated was that newspapers in Britain and Germany expressed expectations for politicians to represent the angry opinions of their publics as voiced in the press. However, many newspapers also demanded that Bülow and Chamberlain moderate public opinion by influencing and censoring the press. While Bülow and Chamberlain were ahead of their time in paying attention to press opinions, seeking publicity and managing the press, they failed to meet the contradictory expectations of catering to jingoism while appeasing a foreign public. Meanwhile, newspapers reflected on their political impact on this situation, and started expecting more press responsibility, which moderated the crisis. The case shows how media and politics were not separated spheres, but interacted within a transnational public sphere in which expectations for political and journalistic behaviour were continuously being (re)shaped.
Tijdschrift: European Review of History / Revue Européenne d'Histoire
ISSN: 1350-7486
Issue: 3
Volume: 26
Pagina's: 476 - 504
Jaar van publicatie:2019
CSS-citation score:1
Authors from:Higher Education