Piers Gregory Robinson (born 1970) is a British academic researcher in the field of media studies.[1][2] He is also a co-director of the Organisation for Propaganda Studies[3] and a founder of the Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media (SPM).[4] He has authored a number of publications on the CNN effect. He has attracted criticism for disputing the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War.

Piers Robinson
Piers Gregory Robinson

1970 (age 53–54)
  • Academic
  • Lecturer
  • Writer
  • Author
Board member ofOrganisation for Propaganda Studies
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Bristol
ThesisThe News Media and Intervention (2000)
InfluencesEdward S. Herman, Noam Chomsky
Academic work
DisciplinePropaganda studies, political science, political journalism
Notable ideasCNN effect

Education and career edit

Robinson received his PhD from the University of Bristol in 2000, with a thesis titled The News Media and Intervention.[5] He was a lecturer in political communication at the University of Liverpool from 1999 to 2005 and senior lecturer in international politics at The University of Manchester from 2005 to 2015.[2] He was the chair in Politics, Society and Political Journalism at The University of Sheffield until he left his post in 2019 citing "professional goals and personal circumstances".[6]

Political research edit

Media and propaganda edit

Robinson has argued that Western news media and their respective governments act in concert, especially in the area of foreign affairs. He puts this down to "overreliance on government officials as news sources, economic constraints, the imperatives of big business and good old-fashioned patriotism". He has said western governments frequently manipulate the media through "deception involving exaggeration, omission and misdirection". As evidence of government use of propaganda he cited Tony Blair's suggestion that the "war on terror" would require a "dedicated tightly knit propaganda unit".[7] In "The Propaganda Model: Still Relevant Today" he examined the propaganda model put forward by Herman and Chomsky and concluded that it is still useful in describing how the corporate media works.[8]

In an opinion piece in The Guardian, Robinson described the UK government's use of the Research, Information and Communications Unit to covertly support grassroots Muslim organisations as an example of black propaganda.[7]

CNN effect edit

Robinson has studied the CNN effect,[9] a term that refers to the "influence that televised images and news coverage exercise on foreign policy decisions, especially during military interventions and humanitarian crises."[10] In his 2002 book, The CNN Effect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy and Intervention, he argued that "sympathetic news coverage at key moments in foreign crises can influence the response of Western governments."[11] In Robinson's framework, which focused on "the type of media coverage a crisis attracts and on level of policy certainty within the establishment in relation to the crisis", a strong CNN effect requires two conditions: 1) media coverage that is highly critical of national policy, while simultaneously emphatically reporting on civilians and refugees, and 2) policy makers in a state of indecision with no clear policy regarding use of force. In terms of this framework, Robinson characterised the 1994 NATO intervention in Bosnia that followed the siege of Goražde as exemplifying a strong CNN effect. If either condition is missing, influence on policy makers' attitudes is likely to be weak.[10]

9/11 edit

Robinson's review of 9/11 Unmasked by David Ray Griffin (an adherent of the 9/11 truth movement) said it represents "a serious challenge for mainstream academics and journalists to start to ask substantial questions about 9/11".[12][13] When asked whether he agreed with the conclusions of the book, Robinson stated "My position, as has been the case for some time, is that [conclusions detailed in 9/11 Unmasked] demonstrate beyond reasonable doubt that significant parts of the official narrative are very likely to be incorrect" and "It is no longer tenable for academics and journalists to avoid asking probing questions about the possible involvement of state actors in the 9/11 attacks. 9/11 requires further analysis and investigation and this is a position I share with many other academics."[13]

2003 invasion of Iraq edit

Robinson has paid particular attention to the role of the US and UK governments in manipulating intelligence prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq to increase the perceived threat posed by Iraq.[7] Robinson conducted a study of UK media coverage which concluded that most UK mainstream media reinforced official views rather than challenged them.[14]

Syrian Civil War edit

Robinson and other members of the SPM working group including Vanessa Beeley, Tim Hayward and David Miller have gained considerable attention for disputing the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Civil War,[15] most notably in the Douma incident, alleging a coverup by the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons,[16] and extremist links of the White Helmets.[17][18][19] This has led to members of the group being described as "apologists for Assad" in articles in The Times, which compared them to Holocaust deniers.[20][21][22]

In a consultation with HuffPost UK, Lebanese American Emerson College academic Yasser Munif criticized Robinson's stances on Syria, arguing that it "completely denies the agency of the Arab population, perceives anything happening in the region as a form of conspiracy... [Robinson] thinks Arabs have to be manipulated and funded and told exactly what to do – it’s completely insulting."[23]

Russia edit

Robinson has argued that there is no persuasive evidence to implicate the Russian government in the poisoning of Sergei Skripal and says Russia has been blamed to distract from the West's "aggressive regime change strategy" in the Middle East.[6] He said that there is no persuasive evidence showing Russia conducted any significant propaganda campaign to influence the 2016 US presidential election.[6]

British politics edit

Robinson maintained that accusations of anti-semitism inside the UK Labour Party during Jeremy Corbyn's leadership of the party had been exaggerated for political purposes.[6][24]

Selected publications edit

  • Robinson, Piers (2002). The CNN Effect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy and Intervention. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-13-451314-7.[25]
  • Robinson, Piers; Goddard, Peter; Parry, Katy; Murray, Craig (2010). Pockets of resistance: British news media, war and theory in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Oxford University Press. ISBN 978-1-84-779472-7.[26]
  • Robinson, Piers; Philip Seib; Romy Frohlich, eds. (2017). Routledge Handbook of Media, Conflict and Security. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-41-571291-0.

References edit

  1. ^ Rampa, Kuldip R. (5 July 2019). "Global News and Information Flow in the Digital Age". In Kamalipour, Yahya R. (ed.). Global Communication: A Multicultural Perspective. Rowman & Littlefield. pp. 168–9. ISBN 978-1-5381-2166-5. British academic Piers Robinson, who has long written about political journalism, says that 'a substantial body of research conducted over many decades highlights the proximity between western news media and their respective governments, especially in the realm of foreign affairs'.
  2. ^ a b Robinson, Piers; Seib, Philip; Frohlich, Romy (2016). Routledge Handbook of Media, Conflict and Security. Taylor & Francis. ISBN 978-1-317-91430-3.
  3. ^ "Organisation for Propaganda Studies". Organisation for Propaganda Studies. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  4. ^ "Members". Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media. 25 January 2018. Retrieved 12 May 2020.
  5. ^ Robinson, Piers (2000). The News Media and Intervention (PhD thesis). University of Bristol.
  6. ^ a b c d "Sheffield Uni Professor Leaves Post After Accusations of Promoting Conspiracy Theories". HuffPost UK. 17 April 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  7. ^ a b c Robinson, Piers (3 May 2016). "The British government has already forgotten the great dangers of propaganda". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  8. ^ Robinson, Piers (2016). "The Propaganda Model: Still Relevant Today?". In Edgley, Alison (ed.). Noam Chomsky. London: Springer. pp. 77–96. ISBN 978-1-349-56778-2.
  9. ^ Friedman, Uri (1 March 2018). "The 'CNN Effect' Dies in Syria". The Atlantic. Retrieved 25 May 2020.
  10. ^ a b Joseph, Paul (11 October 2016). The SAGE Encyclopedia of War: Social Science Perspectives. SAGE Publications. ISBN 978-1-4833-5988-5.
  11. ^ Robinson, Piers (8 July 2005). The CNN Effect: The Myth of News, Foreign Policy and Intervention. Routledge. ISBN 978-1-134-51313-0.
  12. ^ Robinson, Piers (10 September 2018). "9/11 Unmasked by David Ray Griffin and Elizabeth Woodworth: A Review". off-guardian.org.
  13. ^ a b "Professor Piers Robinson Teaches Journalism At A Top UK University. He's Also A 9/11 Truther". HuffPost. 12 April 2018. Retrieved 1 May 2020.
  14. ^ Robinson, Piers (2 August 2016). "Russian news may be biased – but so is much western media". The Guardian. Retrieved 4 October 2019.
  15. ^ "Propaganda Here and Now | The Centre for Freedom of the Media".
  16. ^ "Briefing note on the final report of the OPCW Fact-Finding Mission on the alleged chemical attack in Douma in April 2018". 11 April 2019.
  17. ^ Blanchard, Georgie Keate, Sam. "To say Douma attack was staged is to enter an Orwellian world". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 28 May 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  18. ^ "Mysterious death of White Helmets co-founder spotlights toxic propaganda". PBS NewsHour. 24 December 2019. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  19. ^ McKeigue, Paul; Mason, Jake; Robinson, Piers; Miller, David (16 December 2019). "James Le Mesurier: a reconstruction of his business activities and covert role". Working Group on Syria, Propaganda and Media. Retrieved 29 May 2020.
  20. ^ Haynes, Georgie Keate, Dominic Kennedy, Krystina Shveda, Deborah. "Apologists for Assad working in British universities". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 27 May 2020.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  21. ^ "Assad's Useful Idiots". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  22. ^ Webster, Ben. "Academics accused of speaking for Assad condemn Syria raids". The Times. ISSN 0140-0460. Retrieved 28 May 2020.
  23. ^ "This Professor Teaches Journalism At A Top UK University. He's Also A 9/11 Truther". HuffPost. 4 December 2018. Retrieved 3 April 2022.
  24. ^ Somerville, Ewan. "Sheffield University 'conspiracy theory' professor quits". Forge. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  25. ^ Reviews of The CNN Effect: Paul Williams, African Affairs, JSTOR 3518531, doi:10.1093/afraf/adg078; Jody Waters, Canadian Journal of Communication, [1]; Douglas Blanks Hindman, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, [2]; James Boylan, Columbia Journalism Review, [3]
  26. ^ Reviews of Pockets of Resistance: Greg McLaughlin, Journalism Studies, doi:10.1080/1461670X.2012.691349; Phillip Knightley, Journalism Practice, doi:10.1080/17512786.2012.712766; Philip Hammond, Media, War & Conflict, doi:10.1177/1750635212448027

External links edit