Mr. Eran Vigoda-Gadot is Professor of Public Administration and Management, Political Science and Governance and founder of the Center for Public Management and Policy (CPMP) at the School of Political Science, University of Haifa. His major expertise is in public administration, public management, and organizational behavior. Professor Vigoda-Gadot is simultaneously the author and coauthor of more than 170 articles and book chapters, 12 books and symposiums as well as many other scholarly presentations and working papers.
The outbreak of the Russia-Ukrainian War has shocked European continent and the whole world. The national media and social media have played an irreplaceable role in this crisis, and for a while, it has led to the first major “social network war” of this century. In response to this question, the Center conducted an exclusive interview with Dr. Eran Vigoda-Gadot to find out his answers about the impact and role of the media in the Ukraine crisis.
Eran Vigoda-Gadot：Social and National Mediums’ Impact in the Ukraine Crisis
We live in the era of social media dominance in almost every segment in our life. Individuals’ opinions and impact on governments’ policies and behaviours has never in history been greater than today. Governments in the new age are making serious efforts to become responsive governments. This orientation is prevalent in almost every modern country, in democracies but also in much less liberal nations. The age of free flow of information and knowledge via digital media greatly affects what people know, what they want others to know, and what governments struggle to expose or hide from citizens and from the world.
Nevertheless, when crises emerge, regardless of nature-made or human-made, the role of social media increases dramatically. It becomes a source of vital information that may constructively reduce uncertainty, but in the same time it may reinforce ambiguity and uncertainty if unreliable information is distribute by unreliable sources. Knowledge and information become a weapon aimed at affecting opinions, views, attitudes and finally also decisions in major power centres of the societies and the world community. Social and national media are today as important as bombs, missiles, aircrafts, vessels, and other destructive war machines.
We have had this coming with the nature force crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic in the last two and a half years, and we are now witnessing its impact again, with the human-made catastrophe of the Ukraine crisis. The open social media and the national media struggled on the truth about the virus, and there were days when they disputed even the more salient scientific evidence that should have been under no real dispute. The same thing happens today during the war in Ukraine. Here again, the role of the social media is to tell the world about the details of the crisis when enemies of free societies are struggling hard to prevent us from knowing how devastating is the brutal impact of the crisis. Thus, again after more than 80 years, there is a battle on freedom and human rights in the heart of Europe. In the same continent that experienced the horrors of the 2nd world war and thought this will not happen again, at least in its territories.
Yet, the digital era gives power in the hands of many, power that was not possible in those dark days of Europe during the late 1930s and early 1940s. This power challenges the conventional weapon of dictators and the determination to put the world, again, on a track of confrontation between superpowers. Although social media cannot compete or recover the physical damage caused to human lives, to wounded cities, and to miserable refugees who run away to safety in neighbor countries, it can tell the truth about the struggle, and uncover the faces of tyranny and brutality of war. It does in in real time and it is systematically recorded and documented for the archives of history and human knowledge for eternity. National media in both Ukraine and Russia will largely tell a one-sided story, while social media will most likely provide a detailed authentic story of pure human suffer and human aggression and brutality - - both ends of large violent international conflicts. In this struggle for historical truth, social media, despite its considerable limitations, hazards of fake news and misinformation, is crucial and will remain vital for battling crises of viruses and human evil.
After less than a century of growing optimism and relative prosperity in the wounded European land, it should be remembered that international conflicts, like viruses, are here to stay. They will not vanish even in the digital ear or the great lab efforts to create immunity and vaccination. As there is not eternal vaccination against viruses, there is no such against human interest and wicked Behavior. But the truth about them, and the real-time nature of story building is playing a major role in balancing power and setting new ethical and moral demands for democracies and the free world of the 21st century.
Interviewers：Luo Zhifen, Zhang Ran
Translators: Xu Houkun, Wang Xuetong