This ‘work-in-progress’ research aims to yield empirical insights on the interplay between public diplomacy as a practice central to the United States (the US) soft power statecraft and hybrid media activism. Our study is set in media landscapes in which Donald Trump’s foreign policy narratives were met with foreign publics’ adversarial campaigning. On the eve of the inauguration of Trump as the 45th President of the US, Americans protested his presidency in events precipitating anti-Trump international political action opposing his leadership. Using a ‘organisationally enabled’ broadcast media campaign against Trump’s foreign policy, we substantiate the concept of ‘online diplomatic participation’ (Huang, 2020). This study focuses on the campaign inspired by the Dutch late-night show, ‘Zondag Met Lubach’, which on 22 January 2016 aired a statecraft-styled video mockingly appealing directly to Trump. The intermeshing of the original soft news broadcast with a unique composition of a digital meme on his presidency, then mobilised the launch of ‘Every Second Counts’ contest by the German talk show, ‘Neo Magazine Royale’. As Youtube became the designated contestation space for connective action among foreign publics (Bennett ad Samberg, 2013), we ask the following question: which of the soft power resources – tangible, symbolic and affective best predict online diplomatic participation? Theoretically, the contribution of this study stems from its focus on counter-narratives, particularly its content as a driver of online diplomatic participation, and the ways in which social media aid hybrid media activism challenging the legitimacy of Trump’s public diplomacy narratives. In order to analyse the patterns of online diplomatic participation, we followed a sequential exploratory mix-method design to examine Youtube users’ engagement with the content of the ‘Every Second Counts’ campaign using, first, qualitative content analysis and then its quantitative equivalent. The dynamics of the Web made it particularly difficult to select random data samples. Therefore, we collected samples of the YouTube videos and comments suitable for the dynamics of ‘Every second counts’. The sampled videos (n=50) were supplanted with the sample of comments (n=9,922), all of which were scraped using the Mozdeh software. Finally, to reflect the nested relationship of comments with videos, our data was analysed on video and comment levels by a range of regressions analyses in the statistical programme R. These reveal that soft power resources are not strong predictors of engagment with counter-narrative produced by hybrid media activists as few of them are statistically significant. The results of qualitative content analysis demonstrate that satire is a genre strategically used as an affective resource in the connective action on foreign policy issues exhibited through: disparagement, intertextuality, tonality, scripting and unique tropes. On the level of videos, the results of regressions of quantitative data, reveal, indeed, significance of some of the affective resources for the video popularity measures and the propensity to dislike videos exhibiting a symbolic resource of political values. On the levels of comments, the interactivity trends emerging in data disclose that longer comments were positively associated with videos featuring part of the original talk show broadcast, speed of commenting was positively associated with when the video was posted, and adversarial political statements were a catalyst predicting likes of comments among users along with the attribution of videos to the EU states. Finally, the pattern of tonality reveals that among the entire repertoire of resources, neutral valance was most wide-spread among comments that were statistically significant when measured by valance toward home state, home video and valance towards other states. Implications of our findings for hybrid media campaigning on the issues of foreign policy will be subsequently discussed.
Dr. Paweł Surowiec
University of Sheffield, Department of Journalism Studies
In his research, Paweł is intrigued by questions relating to the colonisation of propaganda to new social spaces, and the reinvention of this practice, particularly in the context of diplomacy and cyberspace (eg digital diplomacy). He merges those research interests with lecturing and consultancy.
In his professional practice, Paweł engages in professional publishing for outlets such as Convergences. He also serves the academic community in the field of media and communication: in October 2016, he was elected to the executive board of the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) and acts as a treasurer of this pan-European learned society.
A series of Polish-language meetings during which researchers and guest speakers look at issues related to digital transformation, new technologies, innovation and digital research methods.
The aim of the "Digitisation under the closer look of science" seminars is to build cooperation between academia, the public sector and business. Scientists share their research findings and have the opportunity to discuss them with experts. The results of their work are available on the DELab UW website.