Public Diplomacy and Hybrid Media Activism: Online Diplomatic Participation and Citizens’ Counter-Narratives to the 2016 US Presidency




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.

Full bio.


Analityk DELab UW

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.

Cykl anglojęzycznych spotkań, w trakcie których prezentowane są wyniki badań z obszaru cyfryzacji, prowadzonych przez badaczy i badaczki z krajów Unii Europejskiej.

Seminaria są doskonałą okazją, by poznać tematy podejmowane na zagranicznych uczelniach oraz podyskutować o nich zaproszonymi gośćmi. Dzięki interaktywnej formie stanowią również szansę na budowanie współpracy pomiędzy polskimi i zagranicznymi ośrodkami naukowymi. Dotychczasowe seminaria można znaleźć na stronie DELab UW.

University of Sheffield, Department of Journalism Studies
Scroll to Top