Oct 5, 2009

Are we missing out?

In our readings and discussions of cultural imperialism and global media so far, there has been a focus on the lack of indigenous media from non-Western countries, and how the lack of such cultural production means puts these populations at a disadvantage. Reading Cottle and Rai, and having it pointed out that one can watch CNN most anywhere in the world, but one would be hard pressed to find ZEE TV in the United States, it suddenly struck me, "Wait a second -- doesn't that put us at a disadvantage as well?"

I'm not trying to play the "woe are us the rich, media-dominant country" card in light of obvious inequalities in the global mediasphere. Rather, I think it's sad that our own media is dominated by, arguably, a single cultural perspective. Given what we discussed in class last week about needing a consortium of sources in order to arrive at our own opinions, if you think about it in absolute terms, we are at a disadvantage for only having Western media available to us compared to, say, India, which has access to both the Western dominant news programs as well as "contra flow" broadcasting.

There are development issues at hand when we talk about Southern countries lacking production resources to tell their own stories; these are obviously a crucial and urgent aspect of our current mediasphere. I would not try to impose an argument that one should extend the reach and availability of non-Western media for the benefit of the Western world at the expense of overlooking the significant impact such action would have for the global South. But I think it's a worthy perspective to consider in addition to issues of cultural and national empowerment, that the Western world also needs to be exposed to these views, and that we are missing out by not currently having these made available to us.

Our everyday lives are increasingly globalized, and success on the world stage is going to depend on a nation's leaders and changemakers ability to navigate a host of cultural milieus. To take the view that American/Western ideals will dominate, eliminating the need for cultural literacy, would be shortsighted and self-centered. It seems that stakeholders in the new world information order might not be limited just to the global South, but might include ourselves as well.

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