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Demands of a Transnational Public Sphere: Thediplomatic conflict between Joseph Chamberlainand Bernhard von Bülow and how the masspress shaped expectations for mediatized politicsaround the turn of the twentieth century

Tijdschriftbijdrage - Tijdschriftartikel

Scholarship on media and politics presumes a ‘mediatization’ ofpolitics over time, which overlooks the evolution of a mediatizedpublic sphere that shaped people’s understandings of what actuallyconstituted politics. This article investigates the public sphereto demonstrate how it created expectations for politicians andjournalists within the process of the mediatization of politics. Tounderstand 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 themost violent episodes of the ‘press wars’ between Germany andBritain before the First World War. In 1901, British ColonialSecretary Joseph Chamberlain allegedly insulted the GermanArmy, to which German Imperial Chancellor Bernhard von Bülowreacted aggressively, resulting in a media storm across Europe andthe failing of the British-German alliance talks that paved the wayfor Britain’s Entente Cordiale with France. Part of the reason whythis situation escalated was that newspapers in Britain andGermany expressed expectations for politicians to represent theangry opinions of their publics as voiced in the press. However,many newspapers also demanded that Bülow and Chamberlainmoderate public opinion by influencing and censoring the press.While Bülow and Chamberlain were ahead of their time in payingattention to press opinions, seeking publicity and managing thepress, they failed to meet the contradictory expectations of cateringto jingoism while appeasing a foreign public. Meanwhile,newspapers reflected on their political impact on this situation,and started expecting more press responsibility, which moderatedthe crisis. The case shows how media and politics were not separatedspheres, but interacted within a transnational public spherein which expectations for political and journalistic behaviour werecontinuously being (re)shaped.
Tijdschrift: European Review of History / Revue Européenne d'Histoire
ISSN: 1350-7486
Issue: 3
Volume: 26
Pagina's: 476 - 504
Authors from:Higher Education