Sep 26, 2009

Media Regulation and Global Governance

I was excited to see global governance on the syllabus this week because it’s something I’ve always wondered about in the back of my mind- if cultures across the world are so different, how can we all agree to make laws about issues that affect all of us? Part of our reading assignment for this week was three chapters from Global Governance: a Beginner’s Guide by Seán Ó Siochrú and Bruce Girad with Amy Mahan.

The authors begin the first chapter by asking if media is another kind of “product” in a free market, why should it be regulated? The authors continue, arguing that media is different because it “produces” us. Culture must be learned, and we learn culture by reading the newspaper, watching television, and consuming media. Media are outlets through which culture can be streamed to us. Media is so important to our development that it must be regulated.

The authors also argue that even no regulation is a kind of regulation. With no regulation, the control of media outlets would fall into the hands of a few, similar to having no economic regulation. By allowing media access to only be a privilege a few can afford, a statement is being made.

The chapter makes a distinction between industry regulation versus societal regulation. Industry regulation views media as an active part of the economy and regulates intellectual property rights, breaks up media-based monopolies, and attempts to provide universal access to media outlets. Societal regulation recognizes media’s impact on the production of culture and seeks to regulate the cultural, societal, and political facets of media, advocating for free political debate and differences of opinion.

The second chapter begins by asking the question, what does governance actually mean? The chapter provides a brief historical context of global governance and gives an explanation of how the United Nations system works. The third chapter is another historical context of media communications.

The issue of media regulation reminded me of an interesting discussion we had in other class this week. We were talking about how a reader can determine whether an internet news source is credible or not and how one can filter through all of the bias on the internet. Furthermore, should bias be censored from the internet or would that impede upon our first amendment rights? Since the internet provides complete anonymity for its users, hate, bullying, and bias can run rampant. Should users be have to provide a name so that they will be forced to own up to their comments or is anonymity one of the defining aspects of the internet?

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