Oct 8, 2009

Analysis Question 2


As journalism faces difficulty in a time of global economic crisis, should nation-states think seriously about revising the global governance of media systems? We know that some markets have exploded into many different channel offerings, even while media conglomeration continues to accelerate. Given what we know about the role of media in culture and conflict, is it time to revisit the older concerns about media ownership and rights of information and communication as discussed in the previous readings?

The answer to this question is quite complex because media conglomeration has had a few different effects on International Communication. On one hand, it is simply a startling fact that in Britain 90% of the newspapers in circulation are controlled by one of five firms as McChesney points out. At the same time though, Jeremy Tunstall points out that in 10 nations where the population exceeds 100 million, less than 10% of the audience's viewing time is spent on foreign. Cottle and Rai further that point by saying there are very few global media forces (CNN, BBC, Al Jazeera, and Fox News) whereas, more regional or local media companies are widely watched in much of the rest of the world. These ideas work well with the Jenkins says about new media, namely that it makes it much easier for the audience to pick and choose what they view, hear, and forward on. This is a similar notion to what Carey calls the Ritual view of communication which is much more about association and fellowship, much more akin to a sacred ceremony of shared beliefs than about the imparting of knowledge.

Essentially, new media and media trends in the mainstream Western models make it very easy for someone to watch nothing but Bill O'Reilly and Rush Limbaugh all day, because they identify with and "trust" those people who espouse similar ideological views. There is little room for challenge or information without bias. So even if the governments of the world were to try and regulate media conglomeration at this point, the proliferation of ritualized media has already taken hold both in the more traditional and new media sense.

At the same time, as these 9 corporations have grown so large through their engagement in horizontal and vertical integration it may be more difficult to regulate them. Especially since past attempts have shown the West largely controlling the talks surrounding these issues as well as contention between nations who disagree with the presence of 'civil society' at such talks.

So what can be done? For one thing, there needs to be a system for teaching young people about media consumption and how to analyze the quality of information or any hidden bias within it. The fact is that many Americans do not know where to look for news and information outside of CNN, MSNBC, FOX, et al. This means that whether the information imparted has an agenda or bias, it does come from a Western gaze which inherently sets it apart from coverage of the struggle between the people of Nigeria and the Royal Dutch Shell corporation presented by the Nigerian or African media.

Also, a demand for plurality wherein the media corporations are required to provide for as many technological outlets as possible. Giving people the ability to access the information on television, on the radio, on the Internet, on mobile devices, and in print also allows more opportunities for people to interact with the content and present varying points of view on the issues.
During his presidential campaign, Dr. Ashraf Ghani said that though a large number of Afghans are illiterate they are not uninformed because they listen to 3 or 4 radio stations a day and watch just as many television stations (if they have access to it) where they can express their opinions.

Also, plurality can mean engaging with more local media makers to tell the stories of their people. The 1/3 of nations who do not produce any films are perhaps the most in need of an outlet to tell their stories than anyone in the globe.

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