Tuesday, December 1, 2009


Entertainment education is the intentional placement of educational content in entertainment messages. EE allow mass communication be include entertainment along with persuasion. The idea is to present educational ideals through movie characters, etc. EE was drawn from Bandura’s social cognitive theory. EE seeks to influence the audience’s behavior by providing positive and negative roles. I read many others’ comments this week before I posted my blog comment. I am a pro EE individual. I have experienced the positives of EE within high school classrooms, and I believe that EE is an excellent way to educate subaltern groups. A classmate of mine at Howard told me how she incorporates EE into her curriculum and her students are very receptive to it; their grades improve. Bandura utilized EE when he was exemplifying the inhibitory and disinhibitory effects of the social cognitive theory. However, some of my peers felt that EE is not the best way to educate subaltern groups because the entertainment factor allows room for deception. I never looked at EE in that light. For instance, in the Singhal and Rogers article, how a television shows are used to present health issues and concerns (i.e. Maude and Walter’s vasectomy). Another example was All In The Family. This show’s main character used racial slurs; however, the intent was to elevate viewers’ consciousness about ethnic prejudices. All of the above examples are excellent if the end result of education is received by the audience. However, if one is laughing at the racial jokes of a character, do they understand the true intent?? With this being said, I am forced to re evaluate the advantages of EE.

I agree with many of Singhal’s and Rogers’ implications for future research in their conclusion. The fact that EE will begin to use crafts, art, textiles, etc. as sources was interesting because today that practice seems as if it is a step backwards, considering the technological possibilities of mass media. Overall, EE is an alternative educational tool that is more helpful than harmful for subaltern groups.

Dutta's article discussed how EE is used to promote HIV/AIDS prevention, family planning, and gender equity. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Dutta was against EE practices; he offered solutions at the end of his article?? I also saw some blog posts were people felt that the population control section was a little overboard. The one paragraph that I highlighted was the importance of individual responsibility, which is ultimately what must be remembered when incorporating any forms of EE.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

EE: An effective subaltern communication tool?

Dutta's critical review of entertainment education (EE) brought up good points, albeit through a very narrow and extreme viewpoint. Participation and input by subaltern groups is an important component of effective communication development but is also difficult to create and evaluate. Sometimes there are issues EE addresses that subaltern groups don't see as problems as Dutta pointed out with ideas of having large families. However, there are cultural perspectives about women's roles and discrimination against them that rural communities may not see as wrong and in instances such as that, there is a need for outside intervention and communication.

I also didn't quite agree with Dutta that moving from the goal of population control (a measurable goal) to access and inequality (very abstract) was a good recommendation. I think that listening to people and hearing their concerns first hand is extremely important but when creating development programs it is better to judge the effectiveness of a program with measurable goals compared with abstract notions of inequality.

The biggest question I had when reading Dutta's argument was what is the goal of EE in general? Is something based off of entertainment which involves expensive items like a television really a viable technique to reach the poorest of the poor? Perhaps there are other techniques more suitable for working with subaltern groups on health education than through entertainment. Dutta still highlights relevant points about the goal of aid agencies and the importance of participant input but perhaps the notion of EE as an effective tool to impact subaltern groups is misguided.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

An Updated Approach to Public Diplomacy

Both the Fisher article and the Corman, et al. piece are concerned with updating the antiquated message influence model of public diplomacy. However, this blog post will focus on the merits and downfalls of the pragmatic complexity model. Corman, et al. put forth the pragmatic complexity model, which proposes that "communication is a complex process of interpreting one-another's actions and making attributions about thoughts, motivation, and intentions" (page 9). The authors stress that the system of communication is under neither the sender's nor the receiver's control and that communication failures will be the norm. Although the piece touches briefly on how these two attributes of the pragmatic complexity model should not discourage people or organizations from trying to communicate their messages, I am still not convinced that, under this model, actually participating in public diplomacy or strategic communication would leave the actors better off than if they just didn't participate at all. For instance, Corman, et al. write, "once we let go of the idea of a well-ordered system that is under our control, we can start to think of what is possible in situations of uncertainty" (page 12). Well, this sounds great in theory, but the authors fail to give any concrete examples of what come of those possibilities are. Also, in a society like the US, where seeing an immediate effect is highly valued and expected, the whole premise that this model will only be successful over time will be hard for many to swallow. In the article, it is suggested that the US should try to discuss its problems and invite comparisons, rather than promote the virtues of its democracy. The authors come to the conclusion that "doing this would reproduce Western values of freedom of thought and expression and show that we are not afraid of criticism" (page 13). But to me, this is just another assumption made about how the audience will react to the new role of the US as a facilitator for public dialogue. Corman, et al. do explain how the actual communication process works in their model, but they also are open about the weakness in their model's predicting potential. Although it is obvious that receivers in the message influence model do not always interpret the message in the way that the sender envisions, the pragmatic complexity model relies on so many components in order to determine whether a communicator has succeeded or not and is basically non-falsifiable because one of the basic assumptions is that "failure is the norm" (page 11). So, if a communicator fails to succeed in his or her environment, it does not mean that there is something lacking in the pragmatic complexity model itself, but rather that this outcome is the norm.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Fisher's Public Diplomacy

The Ali Fisher article on Open Source Diplomacy provided innovative insight into the various types of diplomacy, namely cathedral and bazaar. Fisher presented the objectives of Open Source Diplomacy as creative and comprehensive, geared towards achieving cooperation and conflict resolution.

The factors for success that Fisher outlines, namely creating a genuine partnership among parties and incorporating civil society into decision making, reminds me of the radio show “Talk of the Island.” This program is based in Cyprus and acts as a forum for both Cypriot communities to discuss their grievances and future resolution plans. Like Greenpeace, this organization is successful because it offers civil society the chance to become actively involved in public diplomacy and government actions. This program reflects the idea of Bazaar diplomacy by spreading information and suggestions through technology, and challenging traditional political authority; it provides “an environment for new public diplomacy.” It seems that Bazaar Diplomacy has become the prominent form of diplomacy in our increasingly interconnected world.

Monday, November 16, 2009

My A-Ha Moment!

Thank goodness for Joseph S. Nye, Jr.!!! I understood soft power and hard power thoroughly. In class, I had an idea of what was being referred to, but now I have a "working knowledge" of the terms. I now know that soft power is more than influences/persuading someone to act favorably. It includes actual enticement and attraction toward the favorable side. Hard power in my understanding deals with more overt measures, so to speak. Is psyops an example of hard power??? Then comes public diplomacy, which is utilized by governments in order to attract other countries' publics. For instance, public diplomacy is used to present a nation's cultural values via various broadcasting resources.

Nye then applied the terms. His applications were very relevant and easy for me to understand as well. Experiencing 9/11, the war on terror, and the backlash that followed via media outlets allowed me to look back and see what Nye meant when he stated that America began to rediscover the importance of soft power and the necessary investments. Once various publics, U.S. included, noticed that the "war on terror" was based upon false knowledge regarding weapons of mass destruction, etc. public opinion shifted against the Bush administration and in some case the U.S. This situation negatively effected President Bush and became a blemish of his presidency.

It is important to address the fact that today's society has almost instantaneous access to international events and the commentary that follows. Therefore, it is imperative that public diplomacy and international government practices change with the times. The PD 2.0 article addresses this idea and shows the significance of social networking sites, especially when it comes to organizing mass amounts of people quickly. On a side note, the author also suggested that PD 2.0 gives the U.S. an advantage over the terrorists. The supporting explanation was interesting because interactivity doesn't fit the extremists, but I was not totally convinced by the notion that the new technology will leave the terrorists behind.

Another point that I found interesting was when Nye stated that "preaching at foreigners is not the best way to convert them." This is interestisng becasue if I were a foreigner, I many times would feel that the U.S. is constantly preaching and trying to "force feed" me an idea. It's funny that Nye used the Bush administration as an example....
Overall, I better understand soft power and hard power. I left this as a comment on someone else blog, but I am serious: Does anyone have an example of "smart power?" :)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Al-Jazeera as International Actor

Powers and Gilboa, authors of this week’s reading on the public diplomacy of Al-Jazeera, provide a comprehensive overview and understanding of the multi-leveled dynamics of Al-Jazeera, namely its role as a political actor with a specific political agenda. This article’s discussion regarding the internal and external roles of Al-Jazeera is insightful, and I found it interesting when the author’s discussed America’s tendency to ignore the internal role (discussing taboos and criticizing Arab regimes), and to focus on criticizing Arab and Muslim perspectives.

In addition to presenting insightful information, the authors encouraged me to question the meanings and uses of “democracy.” The authors argue that Al-Jazeera uses a democratic platform to project information and motives, most notably as a forum for intellects to speak freely. Although the communications approach is perhaps democratic, many Arab regimes that are represented are not democracies, thus I sensed a conflict of interests regarding the democratic politics of Al-Jazeera.

After reading this article, I did notice a similarity between Al-Jazeera and US media corporations. The authors argue that Al-Jazeera tries to portray itself as objective and non-biased, in order to have a relationship with Western nations. Yet, the media simultaneously aims to appeal to a target audience, which may support biased view points. I don’t find this synopsis of Al-Jazeera’s media intentions much different from American motivations, as our media is undoubtedly infused with biased politics, encouraging viewers to select the media output that is congruent with their beliefs.

This reading offered a broad analysis of Al-Jazeera, covering the most current and contentious issues surrounding the firm, including its reputation as a non state actor able to influence actions and opinions. The author’s encouraged me to watch Al-Jazeera and discover for myself its political agenda and influential politics.

The New Public Diplomacy

The readings for this week all dealt with public diplomacy in varying capacities. The Powers and Gilboa chapter on Al Jazeera and public diplomacy focused on the new recognition of nongovernmental actors in the public diplomacy arena, especially transnational news organizations. Joseph Nye's piece focused on how public diplomacy can most effectively be used in the modern information age with a special focus on American public diplomacy. U.S. Under Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs John Glassman's speech outlines the specific American efforts and visions for what he dubs "Public Diplomacy 2.0," and the Monroe Price refers to these new public diplomacy efforts as information foreign policies.

What really engaged me with the Powers and Gilboa article was that they did a really comprehensive analysis of Al Jazeera looking, as the English brand identity for Al Jazeera goes, from "every angle|every side." It was interesting to me to think that Al Jazeera is trying to portray itself as a democratizing force in the region, but it's subsidized and chaired by a member of the Qatari royal family and Qatar's governmental structure is that of an absolute monarchy. But maybe this is part of what Al Jazeera hopes to change?

Another point that I found interesting in this piece was the separation of news issues between external and internal and how even though the U.S. has been known to portray Al Jazeera in a negative light, American views on what should be done to democratize the Middle East are mostly in-line with Al Jazeera's internal news agenda. The same goes for Arab governments being critical of Al Jazeera's internal news agenda and yet favoring how they frame external news issues, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think the way that Al Jazeera has cultivated a credible reputation for itself within the Arabic world and beyond makes it very difficult for American or other Western governments to censor it. It looks very hypocritical for a country, which espouses all these democratic values including the freedom of speech, to call for a news organization to be shut down because of its "slant" in reporting the news.

I also wanted to comment on a common theme that has been mentioned in most of the readings for this week and last. The idea that American public diplomacy and/or international news coverage was much more organized and practiced during the Cold War. Many of the articles in the last two weeks have said things like the world is such a more uncertain place, why has US international news coverage or public diplomacy not increased, or at least remained steady, since the Cold War? I think that the conclusion of the Price reading makes a particularly important point. We are all looking back at the Cold War era now thinking, "Wow! Wasn't it so nice to only have to worry about one enemy? Wasn't it so nice to have a clearly defined objective (wiping out communism)?" I think the one thing that this perspective is missing is that at the time, the events of the Cold War seemed anything but certain or clear, and nobody knew if the public diplomacy efforts were good ideas. Price says "Prior to the Gorbachev era..., the United States... had a foreign policy toward the use of information and media that (especially in retrospect) was clearly articulated and implemented" (363). The (especially in retrospect) is very important in this case. I am not trying to say that it is OK that US media barely covers international news or that it is not important for the US to have developed and cohesive policies of public diplomacy. What I do think is that, as the old adage goes, hindsight is 20/20. The past will always seem simpler and clearer than the present or the future because we already know how things played out. However, when the past was the present, I would think that things probably seemed just as uncertain and ill-defined as they are now.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

The Glocalization of Diplomacy

Persuading with soft power is easier said than done. Hard power is accomplished with a gun or a law but the root of soft power's influence is much less concrete. However, as the readings noted, it is just as important.

Nye notes that a country's soft power stems from its culture, values and policies. The main vehicle for transmitting this is normally public diplomacy. The most crucial resource for soft power and pubic diplomacy lies in the credibility backing it. This credibility can be undercut by illegitimate policies or culturally unacceptable points of view. If this happens, the soft power of a country is diminished and it becomes more difficult to persuade a country or government to agree with them.

However, the flex of soft power is also being used by groups such as Al Jazeera. Powers & Gilboa discuss the current perception in Arab states of Al Jazeera's credibility and its overwhelming popularity. This has brought it influence and power over the Arab and international political agenda. Powers & Gilboa call Al Jazeera a new form of public diplomacy that is "blurring of traditional distinctions between public and traditional diplomacy and between cultural diplomacy, marketing and news management."

What I found most intriguing about this discussion is that Powers & Gilboa tie Al Jazeera's success to a form of glocalization. They say it is a blend of the local Arab perspective with the global western media method and technologies in a "sign of symbolic equilibrium between the Occident and the Other." We have studied this blending of global and local with products that the global corporations are trying to sell but it was new to hear it discussed in the field of public diplomacy.

Perhaps this is the way diplomacy is moving in general. It is no longer a dictation, as James Glassman called it but a conversation. The new diplomacy conversation must absorb and involve local perspectives in order to achieve a global dialog and understanding.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The media is a rather powerful entity. Internationally, the media (television mostly) provides the world with a view/opinion of the global public sphere. The media presents various perspectives, facts, and images of many global events. Wars are frequently covered and intepreted by the media, based on this week's readings. Governments use the media as a means of transmitting its message to its citizens and the world. Focusing mostly on the United States and its "War on Terror," Bush utilized the media to shape a perception that would defuse criticsim and mobilize support of the decisions he had made and were going to make after the 9/11 attacks. The Bush administration was very successful in framing the war. They used carefully selected terms such as "coalition forces" and "liberation" when presenting to the public. This part of the process is considered an approach to media management drawn from domestic politics. Basically, the administration was spinning the information to create favorable circumstances domestically. Spinning was not just synonomous to the Bush administration. Previous presidents have utilized the same practices. It is used internationally as well. Bin Laden catered his messages on Al-Jazeera; he attempted to persuade others that America was fighting against Islam because throughout the process America had to constantly reinterate that this was not a war against Islam. The media obtains much of its news via its local government, so it should be no surprise that the government uses the media as a tool of propaganda. However, it amazes me that so many involved parties just go along with the process and many times offer questions afterwards.

CNN is a prominent supplier of television news. The CNN effect is an idea the media function as a "conduit of a politics stuck in a rut and paralysed by special interests." The CNN effect suggest that the media simply focus on things relative to conflicts, elitism, regionalism, and/or politics. An example was how German television seemed to have forgotten about the violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and focused more on the Iraq War because it had a higher level of resonance internationally.

Based on this week's readings, I view international media as propaganda. Sure anything that deals with politics is subject to consisting of some type of propanda, but I am still surprised. Various international television news networks are beginning to share information that will offer a more favorable view of their home country. (i.e. Al-Jazeera shares infor with other Western television networks). It was interesting to see the stair step of how international news trickles down from the government to the news agencies, media, and consumers. New communication technologies definitely have assisted by allowing news to travel at a much faster rate, but all of the news that travels is not meaningful, or should I say its significance has been skewed. Is it safe for me to say that it isn't news unless the current presidential administration allows it to be??

Monday, November 9, 2009

Setting the Frame

With the number of political international actors increasing along with their channels for communicating, the framing of messages becomes an important part of global communications, politics and diplomacy. Hanson described framing as the meaning or interpretation that is given to events so that they can be understood. She also noted that the ability to frame was affected by cultural congruence, the degree of consensus, the amount of control and the nature of event.

Examining the response to Sept 11th provides great insight into the power of framing. Brown discusses how this catastrophe could have been framed as a law enforcement matter or a cause for war. The Bush administration chose to use words like battlefields, beachheads, assaults - laying the groundwork for the 'war on terror.' Hanson says specifically that the War on Terror was framed as an open-ended and global conflict that could be directed against any adversary.

This framing was so widespread and effective that the national newspapers and media wholeheartedly accepted the frame and bolstered its messages by mainly reporting on topics that supported it. Alternative discussions were put in the back pages of newspapers or ignored. While this approach worked well in the USA, it was a more difficult sell internationally and did encounter resistance.

In response to the US framing of the war, Al Qaeda offered their own frame - a war on Islam. They too recognize the necessity of getting people to support their movement and would specifically counter messages that the Western media presented. In this example, both sides have fully engaged in what Brown calls 'perception management.'

How the media chooses to report on these different frames is the main point of concern. How does the public see past the framing and get the actual facts especially when the media agenda has many times been set by national governments in the past. Perhaps the increase in media outlets nationally and internationally will provide a more balanced view or perhaps it will be more of the same. Hopefully, the media and public have learn from the framing and blind following of Sept 11 and seek to question government framing to form their own conclusions.


This week's readings all dealt with the new ways and effectiveness of specific interest groups, including media outlets, NGOs and governments, trying to shape news stories, especially in crisis situations. As new developments in ICTs allow these groups to more quickly and easily communicate and to more readily obtain information, they also necessitate quicker decisions and responses from these actors in leadership positions. Also, these response actions and their consequences are made even more visible to the greater public through the use of new ICTs.

As a result, gaining public support for government policies has become more essential for politicians, even as this process has become more challenging due to the abundance and diversity of news sources available. The Brown piece and the Hafez chapter both mentioned topics that I thought resonated with two widely covered news events from the last week.

In Brown's writing on shaping public opinion of the War on Terrorism, she mentions that 'perception management' is becoming an increasingly important tool of political conflict. The concept of 'perception management' can be applied to the recent attack at Fort Hood. For the last few days, American government and Armed Forces officials have made many public statements to the media about how this attack should be perceived in light of the shooters ethnic, cultural, and religious background. I think that there has been a very cautious stance by the government and the media alike when framing this unfortunate and tragic event and that no one is interested in making any hasty conclusions about how the attacker's religious faith contributed to the carrying out of the shooting.

The second event that has gotten a lot of news coverage this week, especially in the print media, has been the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. As someone who has studied German for the last 10 years, I have never seen this much high-profile news coverage of ANYTHING that has to do with Germany. Even when Angela Merkel, proclaimed by Forbes in 2007 as the most powerful woman in the world, won her second term as German Chancellor last month, it was barely a blip on the American news media's radar. In the Hafez chapter, he states that during the Cold War, international issues received greater attention than in the era of globalization. I thought it was ironic then that this week the American news media just so happened to be enamored with the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, a throw-back (and major victory for the West) to Cold War era news.

The readings for this week really emphasize the great opportunities that governments, NGOs and media outlets now have to shape news coverage of both domestic and international events due to new ICTs. They also underscore the increased level of complexity that these actors have to deal with when gauging how their news messages will be received by audiences both at home and abroad.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Brown and Hafez

Both the Robin Brown and Kai Hafez readings stressed the importance of media in both conveying stories and in suggesting interpretations through language. Brown suggests that media is increasingly driven by a desire to produce appealing content, thus limiting the state’s role in production and utilizing professional media conglomerates to dictate story lines. This new dynamic encourages competition and urges “domestic broadcasters to offer a product that is attractive to audiences” (89). However, with an increasingly prevalent desire for appealing content, I wonder if this compromises the request for factual news media? Or can both exist simultaneously?

Just as another author has suggested in previous readings, Brown suggests that media is increasingly shaping us, along with our interpretations and assumptions. Brown emphasizes this by describing the consequences of word selection in public broadcasting. He argues that Bush’s “war against terrorism” precipitated specific connotations regarding war, religion, and terror. I agree with Brown’s hypothesis and have also noticed the influence of diction in public media. Not only does word choice demonstrate a bias, but it subtly infuses the viewer’s perception with either a positive or negative connotation.

The Hafez article discusses the national influence of media, and the partiality it creates. He uses the Olympics to comprehensively demonstrate nationalization that develops within even an international forum. However, here is where I found the two authors to differ. Where Brown discusses an increasingly international media base that threatens domestic production and encourages competition, Hafez seems to suggest that media has become too domesticized. It seems as if their arguments slightly contradicted each other, and presented an interesting debate. I haven’t yet decided which argument I agree with, but both authors present insightful arguments to support their claims.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Internet and Transnationalization

New communication technologies have and will continue to play a major role in the global society. In this week's readings, the internet and cellular phone technology contributed and ignited many social movements. Today, people can voice their opinions/discrepanices and mobilize a protest all by sitting at a computer desk or sending emails via a cell phone. A prolific example that was discussed is the ousting of Filipino President Estrada. The citizens and his administration became so upset and frustrated with his alleged corrupting behavior that he was forced to leave his office due to a protest that was orchestrated via mass text messages. Another example was the Nike "sweatshop" emails. Peretti sent an email to Nike requesting that a pair of personalized shoes be embroidered with the Nike-associated term "sweatshop." Nike officials denied the request, but Peretti forwarded the email threads. The communication threads spread vastly. Nike did not go out of business, but this example was classic because it exhibiting culture jamming. The significance of the internet technology allowed him to save his communication and send it to millions of people. In the end, Nike received negative feedback and press, and many associated the company with the unfortunate term. One last example that I want to emphasize is the North American Fair Trade Coffee Network. When I first glanced at the term, I thought it was NAFTA..lol...but that is beside the point. The network actually consisted of two other organizations that worked together to expose Starbucks environmentally harmful practices. All of the involved groups had individual intentions, but they all worked together for a common cause; everyone benefited. (Hanson said it best, "loose alliances of diverse groups with different agendas.") Starbucks "lifestyle" was being threatened by the coffee networks accusations that the coffee chain kills songbirds. Instead of using PR to battle the coffee network, Starbucks gave in and included the network's logo on many of its products. They also display many humanitarian posters at its locations.

The previous examples show the power that is associated with micro media, and its connection to mass media. When protests and the such become very successful via micro media collaboration, the mass media many times cover the story and the uniqueness of the events. Once this occurs, the world is exposed and becomes aware of situations occuring in Timbuktu, per se. Technology such as the internet allows for all interested parties to partake and remain informed about almost anything. The Nike incident may not have became known worldwide without the internet; it definitely would not have been common knowledge as quick. Hanson states that the internet provides the world with a bridge that connect everyone locally and globally. Coalitions can be built across great distances, and due to the internet transnational organizations have been successfully created (2008). The internet also provides a "global image" that is otherwise not available (Bennet, 2003).

This week's reading was very interesting yet informing. Who would've known that SMS was being used to ignite political movements and protests. I absolutely loved the text shorthand of the Filipino girl's friend, while she was on a date "I think ud betr go hme now!" Transnationalism...mmm think this word is more inviting that globalization..just a thought!

Hanson Chapter 6

This week's reading in the Hanson book discussed the various consequences of new ICT diffusion on the role of nation-states. Hanson does a great job in summarizing the different perspectives on how modern ICTs are affecting national sovereignty and in providing real world examples to illustrate the theories of international communication researchers.

In many of the readings we have done for this class, it is accepted as unavoidable that modern ICTs, especially the Internet, make it more difficult for national governments to control the information flows in and out of their countries, ultimately affecting the ability of national governments, particularly in authoritarian states, to effectively govern. In chapter 6, Hanson shows that this is not necessarily the case by highlighting the current ICT governance situation in China.

She notes that the Communist Party of China has attempted to control the flow of information on the Internet with an array of technical, legal, political, and psychological approaches. The restrictive infrastructure for the Internet system in China, referred to as the "Great Firewall of China," is one means of controlling this. The Chinese government also has implemented an extensive and monitoring system in order to enforce Internet regulations. Severe penalties and fines can be administered if prohibited web activities are detected. Hanson also mentions the establishment of a student-run Internet monitoring group pioneered by Shanghai Normal University. This kind of monitoring organization surprised me, since it is run by and targeted at young people. I was surprised by the effectiveness of this mechanism, since in the US, I think we are often led to believe that young people in China, especially young university students, are at the forefront of pushing for democratization and increased freedom and transparency of the Chinese government.

Although it appears that the Chinese government's strategy for regulating the content that Chinese citizens can access has kept much of the information that the government considers subversive off the Internet in China, the ability for savvy and determined Internet users to still circumvent the elaborate Chinese regulatory system exists, and as Hanson quotes one observer as saying, "total control of today's vast, borderless, redundant cyber-architecture is not possible." I wonder at what point will it become too costly for the Chinese government to maintain their expensive and complex system of Internet regulation?

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Identity and Politics

The case studies presented in Castells article highlighted intriguing differences between the use of wireless media and their impact. On one hand, the ousting of President Estrada in the Philippines, defeat of the Spanish PP government and the election of President Moo-Hyun in Korea are all excellent examples of technology being used to empower social movements to affect purposeful political change. However, there were other examples of technology being used and it did not make a big difference in the outcome. With the 2004 Republican National Convention protests, Castells gives many reasons why the use of technology was not as effective. I see the most important reasons for this being the use of impersonal text-messaging systems and uncoordinated goals. The power of the first three movements lies in their person-to-person texting that created a personal connection and motivation to the issues along with a single driving issue to rally behind.

Both of these issues relate back to Bennett's idea of defining the context surrounding global activism and its impact on individualization. Increased communications are breaking down the traditional ways of defining personal identity and allowing for it to develop in new ways. One new way people are defining themselves is through associating with global protests or issues. As Bennett writes, "As identities become more fluid, and less rooted in geographical place and political time, individuals are freer and under greater pressure to invent themselves and their politics."

Politicians and activists must walk a fine line when trying to attract support to their cause. The Republican National Convention protests lacked that personal connection that people identify with and was instead based more on what Bennett calls 'old ideological activism.' Another example that Castells describes was the massive text message campaign by Prime Minister Berlusconi the night before the election. It triggered an outraged in the public who viewed it as an invasion of privacy. Again, they had no personal connection to this mass text and no way to identify with it and saw nothing in it to rally around. The Internet and wireless technology are not creating this identity but are tools that facilitate the exchange of a global political dialog.

Mobile Technology

Both Castell’s and Juris’ articles provided comprehensive outlines to the increasing significance of cell phones and mobile technology, specifically in political participation. These new forms of media promote an increase in “social engagement” and democracy. While at times politics has seemed a bureaucratic matter, especially in less democratic countries, it is encouraging that civil society can be involved and influential through the media. As is the case in the Philippines, text messaging provides a medium through which civil society can organize to create or resist change, creating a social movement in the political arena. Thus, through media, society can mobilize and use direct action for global justice. This demonstrates the power of mobile technology, a higher level of global interconnectedness, and perhaps a benefit of globalization.

Castell’s account of Berlusconi’s personal text messages, and the infusion of government into the personal sphere, reminds me of the DCAlert texts I receive. Whenever there is a traffic accident, predicted severe weather, or other emergency, DCAlert tells me so. The fact that governments and agencies use texting to reach a broad audience, demonstrate its value in sending quick messages that do not require the same preparation as other media forms. Texting is very effective in this regard because it can reach people on the move, who aren’t seated by a TV or radio.

But, as cell phones become increasingly ubiquitous and mobilizing, we must also consider the consequences that emerge. Castells notes the devastating bombings in Madrid were set off by a cell phone. And, because almost everyone can receive texts, are we also becoming increasingly vulnerable to other forms of terrorism, including phone viruses?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Chapter 5

What I gathered from this article is that as long as the United States continues to set the agenda and manages policy, it will continue to be the international leader and the largest influence on the global agenda policy. Five premises were provided to back up the claim. However, I found the argument that China offers competition to the U.S.'s international position. I find this point very interesting because China's domestic market is definitely "sizzling," and its economy has definitely kept many afloat, particularly the U.S.

Throughout the chapter, the emphasis is on the U.S. and its dominance in the international market. According to the authors, other countries may have a certain level of dominance (i.e. EU oversizes the U.S. ICT market and the lag of the U.S. with broadband). Overall, I will be all hears in class tomorrow in order to tie all of this together in my head because all I gathered was that the U.S. will continue to be the global influence as long as it continues to control policy-making. However, the U.S. still has strides to make with broadband and something as commonplace as the cellular phone market.

Chapter 5 reading

The selected readings in this week’s book tied together many of the themes discussed in previous weeks and in class discussions. However, I found Chapter 5 difficult to read and understand due to an influx of unfamiliar jargon and approach.

What I found most significant in this reading was the absolute need for transparency, oversight, and accountability organizations to monitor the actions of media firms. This would avoid clandestine operations such as Comcast’s affair with BitTorrent. This article made evident the dangers within the global media system, and the importance of taking action.

Furthermore, I agree with the idea of non-discriminatory policies and in providing equal access and price-controls.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

An Unlikely Duo

In general, I found Chapter 5 to been a good overview of the policies behind broadband and wireless even if I did get a bit lost in the spectrums and bundles. It was interesting to see the impact that Republicans had on the push to deregulate broadband and the reasons behind some of the FCC actions. It was also helpful to hear more about the debate on net neutrality and what the different opinions are.

I didn't realize the FCC had forced AT&T to maintain net neutrality for two years during its merger with Bell-South in 2006. Cowhey and Aronson write that one of the reasons was because "the Democratic FCC commissioners (wanted) to keep alive the peering issues until after the next election when Democrats might win control of the White House and Congress, and permanently change policy." (p117) Seeing as this is now the case, I wanted to see what current action had occurred on the topic.

Sure enough, just last Thursday the FCC voted to begin writing net neutrality regulations.

This led me to also check out Google's Public Policy blog and read more about their reasons behind supporting net neutrality. If you scroll down the blog a bit, there is even a joint post by the CEO of Google AND the CEO of Verizon Wireless - a very surprising combination. They admit that they disagree on many aspects of how they envision the FCC net neutrality regulations but that they share a common view of keeping it "an unrestricted and open platform."

I thought that Castells would have been very happy to read the final sentence of their post as a key objective in his public sphere - "We're ready to engage in this important policy discussion." It will be interesting to see if they actually follow through on this promised debate - on an issue that is anything but neutral.

I've heard this all before...

After reading this week's chapters from Cowhey and Aronson's book, I understand why we had to deal with all the topics covered in their work separately before tying them all together. The various forces, including but not limited to technical, social, and policy networks, domestic politics, the flow of ideas, institutions of global governance, and power flows, that shape the past, current, and future management of global ICTs are exceedingly complex in their interactions. I found chapter 5 in "Transforming Global Information and Communication Markets" to be particularly difficult to fully untangle and to comprehend all the jargon used. However, there were some terms used by the authors that I found reflected similar concepts discussed previously in this course and others.

The idea of an inflection point for ICT infrastructure parallels the definition of a technological discontinuity, where a substantial change in technology innovation and usage results in broader societal adjustments, especially in the areas of economics and governance. Examples of past inflection points or technological discontinuities relating to ICTs are the movable type printing press and the telegraph. The current inflection point for ICT infrastructure is due to the increased modularity of technologies, which allows for different technologies to complement one another because of standardized interfaces, and the spread of powerful broadband networks. Although the authors do a good job of justifying their usage of the US as their focal case study throughout the chapters that we were assigned, I believe that this biases them toward a more optimistic view of the economic and social potentials for ICTs. There is very limited discussion about how the variation in access and usage of ICTs globally will impact governance systems.

However, it was interesting to read the various ways in which US policies and norms toward ICTs have spread throughout the world, and it was apparent from the authors' analyses of the future for US economic leadership that there are some pivotal policy issues, which need to be addressed. These include net neutrality, copyright management, US lag in broadband availability to individual and small and medium businesses and the development of advanced wireless infrastructure.

The various forces shaping ICTs diffusion and policies as discussed in chapter 6 remind me a lot of the those described by Ernie Wilson in his strategic restructuring model. The whole idea that there are multiple forces impacting global and national ICT regulation and diffusion, including institutions, structures, domestic politics, individuals, and ideas, and that it is not inevitable for technologies to just spread on their own is a break from the commonly espoused ideas of technological determinism.

Overall, I thought that Cowhey and Aronson were thorough in providing an overview of the various aspects affecting global ICT governance. They also did a good job of differentiating between what they think will happen, what they hope will happen, and how interactions among all the various ICT actors and forces will determine whether an efficient, fair, and least globally detrimental ICT governance system will result.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

The Powers that Blog

The Castells article made some excellent points on power and communications and their impact on politics. He wrote, " The battle of the human mind is largely played out in the processes of communication." No where is this more direct than in the political arena where politicians via for approval of the human mind, or their vote.

As communications becomes more interactive and involves more players, it is a natural place for politics to look to connect with more people. The obvious example of this is Obama's successful media campaign that was heavily reliant on Internet campaigns and interactive social networks. He was able to engage people on a personal level unknown in previous political campaigns. His website was even called www.mybarackobama.org. Obama used the media to create a sense of ownership and connection that ultimately won him the election.

Politicians are realizing the growing power of the media and are working to capitalize on it like Obama has. It is interesting to note that this shift involves a two-way communication which is different from previous political interactions where politicians just broadcast their views and promises out into the ethos. Voters are now demanding more interactions and transparency since media has taken down the barriers of time and distance to these exchanges.

This interesting article from 2008 talks about Obama's successful media campaign: http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/10/business/media/10carr.html

However, I was most struck by the last sentence that shows the power shift occurring with communications: "Yes, we have met Big Brother, the one who is always watching. And Big Brother is us.”

Monday, October 19, 2009

Sooo...Castells is my new fave scholar!!

This week I decided to view some other posts from other groups, and I found a very interesting post about a character named Johnny who sold his soul to the devil in exchange for winning his political campaign of world domination. It was absolutely intriguing because it presented Castells' article and views in a clear, understandable, and entertaining manner. Nonetheless, it further emphasized how I have truly grown to enjoy Castells' scholarly work. Much of what he discussed in this week's article related to communication (duh!) and the ever-constant convergence of media. He also touched on power relations and media politics. To touch breifly on power relations, his understanding of power was the capacity of a social actor to impose his will on another social actor. He discussed counter-power, which was the social actor's capability of resisting the imposition. He made many common truth points about society using media as their political platform informants. Therefore, in a sense, media has a power of importance becasue politics depends upon media politics. However, the power is not in the hands of the media.

The part of Castells' reading that was overly interesting to me was the section discussing mass self-communication. This was intriguing because mass self-communication is the way many of my mentors and idols in my line of work (media entertainment) remain relevant, brand themselves, and stay afloat in the ever-changing global world of media. Horizontal networks of interactive communication are imperative nowadays. Radio listeners and music fans alike want to be able to actively communicate with the celebrities. Fanmail and generic email responses do not cut it anymore. People want the personal feel. (i.e. blogs and social networking sites). In another aspect, mass self-communication offers a medium for social movements. Protests can be arranged in a matter of minutes if the right medium is chosen and the right amount of people view the message and respond accordingly. To this day I still cannot recollect the point in my life where facebook, twitter, youtube, ireports, etc. became such a hot commodity and a "medium" themselves. These forms of mass self communication are also testament to America's existing culture. It "emphasizes individual autonomy, and the self-construction of the project of the social actor." With that, maybe there is hope to holding on to a national identity!! Mass self-communication is making a significant impact upon the media and its traditional practices because the large media conglomerates have even joined the movement by acquiring MySpace and YouTube, to name a couple.

In closing, Castells was very clear in stating that "the autonomy of newtorking sites does not imply competition against the mainstream media." This is a very important point because everytime society moves toward new forms of media, others debate about the extinction of past media. (i.e. radio to television, television to internet). The media must remember that convergence is the future! Mainstream media and new technologies are co-existing. Personally, and I may be wrong, but on the surface with all things held equal; media convergence is a positive for all forms of media. It brings rejunvenation to the older, more traditional forms and creates new ways to market young people like me!

The New Producers

For this week's reading, I found the positive outlook of Yochai Benkler quite refreshing. He examines the ways that new communication technologies promote increased freedom in the production of media and less dependence on the market to create media. In the past 15 years, the way we organize information production has radically changed. New developments in ICTs, especially that of the internet, have brought about structural change that goes to the core of how liberal markets and liberal democracies function together. These ICT developments coupled with changes in social production practices as well as changes in economic organization have created new opportunities for how we make and exchange information, knowledge and culture. Media production by individuals and by cooperative efforts comprised of individuals and other non-market based organizations is increasing dramatically in diverse areas of production from software development to investigative reporting. Thus, individuals are now able to take more active roles in the new information environment than in the industrial economy of the last century.

The rise in influence of individuals and cooperative non-market media production threatens the historical giants of the industrial information economy, media corporations. Benkler sees the increasing number of laws and institutions being put in place to regulate media production (from copyright laws to rules for registering domain names) as the greatest danger to individuals' freedom and active, critical participation in liberal democratic society.

The outcome of these tensions between non-market media production and market-based producers will significantly affect how we as individuals learn what is going on in the world and to what extent and in what forms we will be able to affect how the world is seen.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Media and Power

I found Castell's article extremely interesting, as it simplified the power structure of media and politics, while emphasizing the strong correlation. Castells notes that TV is the largest vehicle of communication that connects politics and citizens, but that it is largely controlled by politicians and news feeds. This interesting relationship seems one-sided and categorizes the viewer as a passive recipient of the media. I also agree with Castell's assertion that a nation states' nationalism disappears with the increase in global governance, and "its legitimacy has dwindled."

This article encouraged me to rethink the media's role, especially as a medium controlled by politics. Castell's correlation between media output and citizen information is intresting, as it suggests that we only know that which we can consume. He writes, "What does not exist in the media does not exist in the public mind”(241). This quote gives me a negative impression of the media, as it seems to increasingly exploit the viewer for political gain.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Japanese Media Culture

Iwalbuchi’s article on the “Japanization” of a global culture encouraged me to reconsider my impression of Japan and of the Japanese. It is extremely ironic and perplexing that the Japanese creators of such a significant export flow mask their own cultural identity. In a position to infuse the media with culturally specific designs, the Japanese producers refrain. Iwalbuchi notes that cartoon artists create characters resembling Caucasians, in an attempt to promote more “attractive characters” (413). However, Iwalbuchi later quotes an author who suggests that the “American way of life has lost its appeal in Japan.” (421) So why such odorless cultural promotion?

At first I wondered if the Japanese are ashamed of their culture. But, as a high-context culture, in which assumptions are understood and internalized, I realized that perhaps their cultural pride prevents them from promoting their culture, in an attempt to preserve it. In a high-context culture, where diversity is low, foreign assimilation is perhaps discouraged. Thus, could such “odorless” cultural promotion reflect extreme pride and protection? Is the Japanese penetration of a global market, specifically through electronics, meant to demonstrate its export prowess without revealing its culture?

There were two other significant points from this article. First, the author quotes numerous scholars who infer that Japanese culture is perhaps more materialistic than Western cultures. While this may be true, it’s hard to image a culture more consumer oriented than the United States, in which mostly every good is a marketable product.

Secondly, Iwalbuchi notes that media globalization actually encourages foreign media presence and domination within the United States. But I wonder, was that the initial intent of media competition in the United States? It seems odd that American media firms control most of the global sphere, yet within our own country media resources are dominated by Japanese products: Sony (Columbia), Matsushita (Universal), Nintendo, and Sega. This urges me to consider the role of American media both domestically and abroad, and the presence of a Japanese media hegemony.

Convergence is the key

Iwabuchi discussed "Japanization." Japan is a economic power. They are well known for their technological advances and creations of American favorite video games such as Super Mario and Sonic the Hedgehog. The Walkman was another captivating consumer electronic. Iwabuchi states how it will be interesting once cultural odors are merely accepted, and products are not seen as simply "made in Japan." The gloval effect that McDonald's seems to have creates an idea of "Americanness." Contrastingly, the popularity of the Walkman did not assimilate a Japanness, so to speak. I personally never ever associated a Walkman as a Japanese invention. The Nintendo character Mario, who I never viewed as Japanese, is almost a trademark of American childhood. Referring back to Iwabuchi's "cultural odor," Mario did not have a cultural odor. In my opinion, Mario was more American than Japanese. Nintendo was simply a "materialistic consumer commodity" (Iwabuchi, 2010, p. 417). I merely appreciated the commodity, but I did not form an idea about Japan, so to speak.

American culture is not as heavy of a global influence as it once was either. Many feel that America's media super power days are steadily on the decline. It is not that America does have a global presence; media has converged. New forms of media have created numerous ways of influencing the masses. I am a fan of Marshall McLuhan's ideas about media ecology. The idea is that the world is a global village, and the environment is an intricate association that is affected by new media technologies. Dueze (2010) states that the media system is more interactive. It is a multicast media ecology. Media is very ubiquitous. Media convergence creates more ways for consumers and producers of media to be involved and interact. In turn creating more diversity. This diversity then leads to cultural convergence.

One connection that I made was the idea that Japan's products needed to affect consumers by forcing them to associate the product with Japan and its culture and not simply a consumer product of the country. Katz and Liebes content analysis of Dallas exhibited the importance of discovering whether the international audience is actually receiving the intended message. The actual "getting of the message" is what is lacking with Japanese products.

Evaluating Influence

Iwabuchi's article this week deals with evaluating "Japanization" in the context of global cultural flows, while Deuze's work covers media convergence, especially the phenomenon of the audience as producer of media content. However, with this post, I will be primarily discussing the article on television analysis by Katz and Liebes.

The evolution of research techniques in social science is a topic of great interest to me. Reading about past assumptions held when evaluating the actual effect on audiences of television programs is almost laughable today. How could researchers actually believe that counting acts of violence or analyzing the power structure that controls the media is equivalent to evaluating the message that is getting through to the audience? It seems very common sensical that different members of an audience would receive varying meanings from watching a television show, seeing as how our perspectives on life are informed by a host of unique, individual, and personal experiences.

My first impression after understanding the intentions of this article was, "Seriously?! You're going to evaluate how different audiences in various countries view an absolutely frivolous show like 'Dallas'?" However, I realize now that that is part of the point. I think of Dallas (and other comparable soap operas) as having no relation to the reality of my life, but maybe in other places audiences will relate differently and gather a different meaning from this show.

And this is exactly what the researchers found. Since 'Dallas' at its core was a story about a family, it allowed viewers to examine their own interpersonal relations and values in comparison to those on this TV program. For Dutch viewers, the researcher Ang concluded that 'Dallas' transmitted "the sense of tragedy in life," while the German researcher, Herzog, found that Germans viewed the show as an "escapist fantasy" (Katz and Liebes 377). Viewers from other countries garnered different meanings from watching 'Dallas' as well.

I wonder if present-day soap operas can still be seen "as mobilizing ethnic and national identities and as capable of promoting social and economic change" (Katz and Liebes 373). Do you think 'Passions' really has that kind of effect on people? In all seriousness though, it seems that at least American soap operas are falling on hard times. For example, 'Guiding Light,' the country's longest running soap, originally a 1930s radio drama, was cancelled earlier this year due to financial inviability.

With the recognition that audiences are active viewers, research in the area of content analysis and the study of effect has made great strides. To take this research a step further, I think it would be interesting to look at how exporting television program formats affects viewers internationally, for example the pop idol shows. How is the format for this show tweaked when shown in different countries and how do the different country audiences respond to these shows?

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Cultural Deodorant

I enjoyed how Iwabuchi's article, Taking Japanization Seriously, brought a new language and way of describing cultural exchanges and global marketing flows to the table. His "cultural odor" gives a tangible feel to the abstract notion of a cultural imprint on a product or export. "Cultural discount" was another interesting way of describing a foreign product that isn't well received in a new market because the local culture doesn't understand or accept it.

Iwabuchi notes that many of the items Japan exports (mainly the three C's: consumer technologies, cartoons/comics and computer/video games) are culturally odorless because they lack any influential idea of Japan on them. Whereas McDonald's can be said to sell the American ideal and lifestyle, Japanese products are just that - consumer products with no overarching values attached. However, there are Japanese products that do retain a cultural odor and have been celebrated in markets (for example, the images of samurais or geishas).

Using this idea of cultural odor, I found it interesting that Iwabuchi mentioned three examples of de-odorizing Japanese culture. One was invisible colonization where Japanese products lose their Japaneseness when incorporated into marketing localization strategies. Another was the "Americanization of Japanization" where Japan is forced to merge with Western global distribution channels in order to get its products out, losing any defining Japanese characteristics in the blending process. The other example was the process of transculturation where local cultures take foreign products or ideas and meld them with current accepted ones - making it their own.

All of these processes remove the Japanese "odor" from a product, making it difficult to judge the impact of Japanese cultural power (or other small emerging powers) on global markets. As systems become more integrated and as the frequency of products exchanged globally increases, it would seem that this deodorization of cultural products or images will increase in general.

Iwabuchi doesn't really touch on the ever-changing fickleness of markets and their trends (since his focus is on the current state of Japanese cultural influence). However, Japanese "odors" have become more acceptable now than after WWII when American consumers would turn away from anything with a Japanese fragrance. Now, Western consumers and in turn, the global markets tend to shy away from products with Middle Eastern "odors". It will be interesting to see if Iwabuchi's idea of odors lead to a less politically-charged (smelly?) global market as products become disassociated with their home countries or if it will only enhance the current favorite or disliked perfumes of the day.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Analysis Question 2: Governance of Media

Although I recognize the seriousness of the current difficulties facing journalists, especially those in print media, I think that the continued viability of this field rests in the hands of the industry itself rather than in those of nation-states.

The rise of the Internet as a public forum for the spread of news information has significantly cut into the coverage areas of traditional journalism. The idea that the public can now get their fill of current news from anonymous individuals or groups posting unsubstantiated reports worries me. However, the more worrisome phenomenon here is not that people are taking advantage of a new technology to continue the ancient tradition of spreading gossip, but rather that readers view these sources as credible.

In class, we have spoken a bit about media literacy, and I think that this is one area where professional journalists have an advantage. Journalists often work for respected news agencies and can take advantage of the resources therein: credible networks of reporters, editors, sources, organizations, etc. If all these aspects of the journalism community were to come together and agree to set an agenda for educating readers about the importance of looking critically at news, then I think the journalism community could get back on their feet. Of course this would mean that journalists themselves would have to be held to higher standards. Transparency in affiliations of journalists, news organizations and sources would be of utmost importance.

Transparency is also at the heart of the issue when discussing current concerns about media ownership and rights of information and communication. McChesney argues that the commercial media system encourages political cynicism among populations. While I do tend to agree that there is a certain level of acrimony toward politics within neoliberal democratic societies, I think that making the sweeping assertion that voters no longer have any real influence on the direction of their nation's government policies is overly simplistic. The idea that the disinterested attitude of neoliberal society can be singularly attributed to the diabolical scheming of the media industry is a bit far-fetched.

However, McChesney's concerns do illustrate the negative consequences of a global media market dominated by huge transnational media conglomerates. To me the scariest thing about a media market controlled by only a few large corporations is the lack of knowledge about what isn't being shown or written about because these corporations see publishing or broadcasting a piece of information as not being in the best interest of their companies. One way to offset this market imbalance is to require media corporations to act in a manner of full disclosure. For example, if the host of TRL on MTV (I know this show doesn't exist anymore but just bear with me) starts effusively praising the newest Dreamworks film, then it should be made clear to the viewing audience that both MTV and Dreamworks are owned by Viacom. This provision of full disclosure or transparency brings me back to the importance of increased media literacy. Providing readers, listeners or viewers with media ownership transparency means nothing without the analytical skills to critically understand what all the complex media relationships mean. Thus, I think the major role now for nation-states and the global governance community in media regulation is to require corporate transparency and to increase the media literacy of the people.

Analysis Question 2

In an increasingly competitive world, competition and media production become the most important dynamics, and the audience becomes a commercial consumer to the producer. This increasing global governance devalues critical cultural information and issues, as media becomes a forum for increasing entertainment. For example, media production in India has drastically changed from soliciting culturally based programs and news, to a giant entertainment industry. And even if cultural information were desired, the privatization of media prevents smaller firms from attempting to compete.

Although the increasing global governance and oligopoly media market are discouraging, it is noteworthy to remember that people are inherently competitive and want to be the best; produce the best media and receive the highest profit. Thus, it is inevitable that media forums will continue to produce desired media in an effort to compete in the global market. Thus, does this mean that it’s the consumer’s role to alter his consumption desires?

Due to the impartial media, and relatively high barriers to entry of multinational corporations, I believe that we need some degree of media regulation. Thussu suggests that the media “produces” us, just as much as we produce it; it affects how we define ourselves, our community, our culture, and our democracy. Thus, we need media regulation to ensure diversity and plurality, impartiality, and extension to rural areas. Without media regulation, privatization and multinational corporations threaten nation-states by becoming, in essence, a governing body.

Furthermore, I would agree with McChesney’s argument that global media creates a neoliberal democracy in which power is opaque and maintained by only a few firms. This consequence compels me to argue for national governance, which may aid in promoting media equity and literacy. It is time to revisit older concerns of media ownership in order to prevent multinational corporations from completely detracting the significance of national media and forming a global culture.

Although media production can be expensive, the current economic crisis harbors room for national media development. The shrinking budgets of multinational corporations leave time and opportunity for local media to prosper, and, if possible, they should capitalize on this opportunity.

Monday, October 5, 2009

The Holy Trinity

In this week’s readings, I was very surprised to see the massive reach that the big three TNC’s (Time Warner, Disney and News Corporation) have and how it extends into so many different realms. I obviously knew these corporations were large but the list of their holdings in McChesney’s article is truly shocking and eye opening.

With three main companies and their interests shaping so much of the media that consumers around the world see, it is hard to argue against the idea of a dominant media flow. It is not so much national or cultural imperialism as it is corporate imperialism. By controlling so many media outlets and production facilities, the corporations can pick the information and media they wish to spread and that which they pick to censor.

Corporate motivation is also not based on any ideology or cultural preference but is driven by profits. Profits are created through marketing and merchandising and so their main goal is to reach as many people as possible. I found McChesney’s statement about global media systems being simultaneously radical (in that it will not respect traditions or customs that stand in the way of profits) and conservative (being sensitive to global social structure since upheaval in property or social relations jeopardizes their position) is an interesting view into the self-serving nature of these global behemoths.

Rai and Cottle spoke of the continued colonization of communications space and Thussu discussed the trend of glocalization as corporations move into local markets. Both expressed concerns about the growth of dominant firms in concentrated oligolistic markets. McChesney even likens them to cartels with the motto "Make profits, not war." It is disturbing to think that the free market economy and trade liberalization that inspired and fed the global media expansion has now created a cartel-like industry with minimal competition - a completely different result than originally preached.

Who does glocalization really help?

Throughout the semester, this idea of globalization has been reoccurring. Thus far my broad idea of globalization is that various media forms are available virtually everywhere at any given time, due in large part to the creation and ease of the internet. Media conglomerates have literally gained access to every continent by more or less monopolizing the media outlets in some form or fashion. What I want to discuss and dissect is how these conglomerates attempt to present a "local" perspective to the various citizens. This idea of glocalization is interesting, yet I wonder why now?

24-hour news channels have removed the barriers of geographics because those channels are centered around provided up-to-the-minute updates on the happenings of the globe. At face value, 24-hour news is a magnificent media outlet! We are a global village, and researchers wonder if individual nations still exist. The major media companies (i.e. News Corporation, TimeWarner, Viacomm) are American-based. According to Thussu (2009), "The only non-Western genre with a global presence is Japanese animation" (p. 222). Tunstall (2010) states that the "European and American continents are the main importers as well as exporters of media" (p. 239). McChesney (2010) agrees with the former two and says that "the global export market is the province of a handful of mostly U.S.-owned or U.S.-based firms" (p. 189). With that, the idea of glocalization is all the more interesting to me. While reading, I was really trying to fathom how global media could become more local. I thought the idea was to expand and conquer. Disney was the corporation that stuck out the most. They produce content in the hosting country's language, and the Disney characters even speak the first language of the host country. News programs are catered to cover the important events of the hosting country as well. Studios are beginning to use local production facilities too.

What really bothers me is not the idea of glocalization itself but the manner in which companies attempt to consider the "global" audience, but in all reality McChesney summed up the entire process the best, and his indications were very easy to understand. McChesney (2010) refers the the 1990s, and how media within a nation had to be understood locally/nationally and then expand to the global market. With the global commercial system, one deciphers how the local and national deviate from the system. The global media totally deviated from the way things were done in the past, and everyone now questions why individual nations are not as identifiable and why American influence is so wide spread. (Mmmmm....this is discussion for another post because the America I was taught about has always stripped individual identification). Everything is not solely the fault of Americans because there are transnational telenovelas and "Bollyworld." However, the only way to truthfully investigate these issues is to truthfully consider all aspects--past and present.

Personally, localism and nationalism must attempt to hang on to whatever definitions that are left because globalization, for lack of better, is not going anywhere. Besides Time Warner's CEO feels that it's bad for a media giant to think nationalistic. McChesney (2010) says it best, "the global system is better understood, then, as one that advances corporate and commerical interests and values, and denigrates or ignores that which cannot be incorporated into its mission" (p. 204). Localization is becoming more and more important because people are no longer seeing "themselves" on their television screens. There top stories are "what is going on in the U.S." or the latest celebrity tidbits.

Overall, there is a need to allow global and local markets to co-exist, but with the dominance of media conglomerates worldwide, how and where do the minority begin?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

A New, Pessimistic View of Global Media

Strictly referring to this week’s readings from the IC Reader, all three articles propose similar yet varying arguments about global media. After reading these articles, I formulated a rather pessimistic and cynical view of the global media system as an economically driven, consumer attractive industry rather than a forum to promote local or cultural ideology. Furthermore, the future of local media systems seems dim, with the consumerism, commercially driven industry on the rise. As McChesney notes, local media corporations are “swallowed” by regional or national ones, extrapolating any hope of promoting culture from the local media firms. The local firms have little choice but to succumb to the grander media powers, essentially creating a noncompetitive media system. Thus, the local firms witness a struggle between protecting their national media, and the economic losses they incur from resisting global media.

McChesney’s article encouraged me to feel sympathetic for the small, local media firms. Not only are they powerless in comparison to the larger media industries, but find great difficulty in breaking into the global media system. As the author notes, there are few ways to develop substantial influence in the global media system, especially with only a few, yet extremely wealthy and powerful firms, controlling the majority of media production.

McChesney also targeted the United States as responsible for “inculcating” the world with western values, while “undermining traditional cultures and values” (202). While I do not always agree with the democratization and globalization indicative of the United States’ foreign diplomacy, I also do not believe we can completely fault the U.S. and denounce its media intentions. I am certain that the United States has economically, democratically driven intentions in its media expansion, but to “undermine” the cultural traditions of other nations seems a drastic interpretation of our intentions. Perhaps in countries that threaten our safety, such as numerous Arab nations, the United States’ media industry tries to promote democracy, but in other areas, namely Latin America, Europe or Africa, I argue that we do not intentionally strip these nations of cultural values.

Furthermore, both McChesney and Thussu argue that the United States is the leader in cultural exports, namely media, and especially the entertainment industry. But I wonder, can we define commercialism as the American culture? What is American culture? Is it definitive? Can we export it? These authors made compelling arguments both about American culture as commercialism, and about the oligopolistic nature of media industry, using numbers and charts to substantiate their claims. However, through such arguments, these articles incited in me a pessimistic and hopeless view of the global media system and of the local firms in succeeding.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

"Think global, act local"

The Disney mantra for expanding its media empire "think global, act local" seems to also have been successfully taken up by most transnational media corporations. The readings this week discussed the pervasiveness of this glocalization phenomenon primarily in print media, the music industry and the film and television industries, including satellite. The concepts of homogenization vs. diversification were also used to illustrate the complexity of global media content development.

In this vein, I found McChesney's comments on the permeability of animation as a global media format particularly insightful. During my time teaching English in Germany, I found that American cartoons, such as The Simpsons, Family Guy and South Park, had a very devoted fan-base among German high school students. This knowledge really added to my lessons as I was able to use clips from these programs as gimmicks to keep my students entertained while still illustrating important English-language and also American cultural concepts. Initially, I had some reservations about using these shows as representative of American culture, but it was amazing to me how well some of the episodes' themes fit into the topics about which I was asked to teach. In class we watched these shows in English, but German television offered these programs daily dubbed in German.

The research done by Cottle and Rai on the changing satellite news industry was also very enlightening. I have never had satellite television and was not aware of the complex evolution in the 24-hour satellite news arena. This specific sub-industry in the global media sphere illustrates the difficulty faced when trying to determine whether media is currently acting as a homogenizing or localizing force on culture. I think that satellite television is also an example of how the existence and diffusion of an ICT does not necessarily guarantee global access to it.

Overall this weeks readings left me with the impression that there is a debate among international communications scholars on the extent to which the globalization of media influences national and sub-national cultures, especially those in the non-Western world. Through my travels abroad and through discussions with people from non-Western cultures, I would have to lean toward the hybridization argument. The aspect of hybridization that really resonates with me is its two-way explanatory power in that it can account for "dominant" media flows' effects on non-Western cultures as well as the "contra" media flows' influences on Western cultures.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Why can't we all just get along?

In this week's readings on Global Governance and Infrastructure, I noticed a central theme of inclusion of different media players and the resulting efforts taken to regulate them all. The NWICO brought to light the exclusion of developing countries as media players and highlighted their sole role as recipient. Since then, efforts have been taken to include more parties outside of major governments in the discussion and implementation of media and communication efforts in attempts to gain a balanced perspective.

The idea of inclusion has resulted in the creation of the United Nations, liberation of the telecom sector, privatization of the satellite industry and more participation by civil service organizations in policy making. Of course, this has all been accomplished with varying degrees of success in equality since large governments and TNC's still control major portions in these areas.

However, the movement towards inclusion of different parties in information and communications brings up an important discussion about how to regulate them and their differing views. In Raboy's first footnote at the end of his article, he uses the UNDP's definition of civil society organizations: 'individuals and groups, organized or unorganized, who interact in the social, political and economic domains and who are regulated by formal and informal rules and law.' Well, who does that exclude? It's a pretty all-encompassing description. How do you regulate and control such a large diverse mass equitably?

An interesting Op-Ed piece in the Washington Post by Michael Gerson, discussed the Internet and how it has become an outlet for racism and hatred that is difficult to regulate because of the First Amendment. ("Banish the Cyber-Bigots" - http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/09/24/AR2009092403932.html) This is a prime example of Siochru and Girard's ideas of social regulation and the difficulties in establishing a black & white policy on a grey topic.

A simultaneous pro and con of the growing communications industry is that it is putting more and more people in direct contact with each other. With so many diverse players interacting in this evolving landscape, determining how to regulate these interactions will be a critical discussion moving forward.

International media: Monopolies and

The liberalization and privatization of communication products and services has had a global impact. Everything from the seventh round of GATT talks to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to the creation of the World Trade Organization (WTO) and the United Nations (UN) has played a role in facilitating and creating this global telecommunications system that is known today. In the U.S., the 1996 Telecommunications Act was a major contributer as well.

I want to touch on the monopolistic world known as international media. Global communications has grown tremendously; the satellite industry has benefited the most because a cheaper, faster way to communicate. As comes with the territory of "dominance"there
are a few major satellite companies that "run the globe", so to speak. The Hughes Network Systems is a major supplier of defence services for the U.S. Lockheed Martin is the largest defence contractor in the U.S. Loral & Space Communications, who owns licenses for the orbital slots of Europe, Latin America, and Asia, is another major player in the satellite communication business. These companies provide highly intelligent communications and surveillance equipment, and the positive is that this field will continue to expand as long as human beings' ideas and thoughts do the same. Unfortunately, depending on which end of the stick, these corporations do not allow much room for newcomers due to mergers, acquistions, and regional alliances.

The case study about Rupert Murdoch and his News Corporation is a great example! Murdoch's News Corp. has a wide span and reaches millions of people worldwide via newspaper, books, television, and internet. Sounds like great business and a harmless situation..right? Murdoch's News Corp reaches almost 500 billion people throughout the course of a day. The problem that I and many may have with Murdoch's "harmless business" is that some form of regulation needs to occur because the media have a major effect on its audience by telling them what to think about, according to the agenda setting theory of McCombs and Shaw. The media via television also plays a major role in constructing individual's ideas and values, which eventually contribute and mold their cultures. I am not against great business ideas and ventures. (May the best man win!). However, I do agree with the author of chapter one from Global Governance: A Beginner's Guide, corporate media moguls do have a responsibility to ensure the public that their only intent is to provide undistorted, truthful (yes, I know we are human) yet diverse information. With all that being said, it is very hard to regulate media, as explained early in the same chapter; secondly, the definition of governance is "invented" on an international level, according to Raboy on page 64. No one quite has the answer as to how to effectively and fairly reuglate media, but many scholars and researchers alike agree that something must be done. Media is ever-evolving, and media convergence is the future! Therefore, Raboy sums it up best, "...civil society has already moved towards a new paradigm...[what is important is] developing a communication society, reviewing structures of power and domination that are expressed and sustained through information and media structures.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Media, Regulation, and Culture: A Synthesis

This week’s readings emphasized several aspects of global media that I had yet to consider. After numerous consecutive weeks of reading, I continued to wonder whether media helps to perpetuate or dilute a culture. But, as Siochru and Girard suggest, media may actually create cultures by deciding which aspects to broadcast and emphasize. This suggestion highlights the importance that media has on perpetuating cultures, and, as Raboy argues, the fundamental role that civilians can play in shaping media. This idea also underlines the need for media regulation.

However, the regulation of media should be implemented by a global sphere, or CSOs, rather than through government bodies. In this way, national biases are more avoidable and media becomes more ground for truth. These articles revealed the benefits of the media in salvaging cultures, but failed to truly acknowledge the destruction that media can cause. For example, instances of over-zealous, anti-Western information and images are familiar on Al-Jazeera; the articles failed to recognize that media becomes a vehicle through which terrorism can grow.

Though the debate over media regulation persists, I agree with Siochru and Girard’s argument that “free media” is unfathomable, as there are always barriers to entry that restrict viewing for certain socio-economic classes. However, the authors’ suggestion that media needs to permeate the rural villages and low economic classes is crucial, as the members of these spheres, with little or no access to televisions, radios, or newspapers, are often not considered in the media representation of their culture.

On a separate topic, Raboy’s article mentioned the role of the United States in governing global media. He specifically mentions the United States’ control of media in Latin America. His critiques, along with Kofi Annan’s speech in support of decentralizing America’s role, urge me to wonder: does the United States’ control of Latin American media negatively influence its ability to develop? And, if culture is created by the media, have we, thus, reduced their culture by regulating their media?

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The Potential for Global Governance: The UN

In the Siochru, Girard and Mahan chapters, the distinction of governance versus government in the ICT sector sector is discussed. The authors' conceptualize governance as "a set of processes that are employed to assess, weigh, and balance the different (and possibly competing) values and objectives inherent in societies' diverse interests and actors" (15-16). Traditionally, global governance has been used to avoid mutually destructive warfare and to enable mutually beneficial interaction. The outcomes of global governance are not always equitable and may not promote development. However, global governance structures do provide predictability and order within their area of influence and lessen confusion and friction for global flows, transactions and interactions. Particular attention is paid to the role of the UN as an institution for global governance, and it is on this organization's effectiveness (at least in the eyes of America) in this role that I will now focus my post.

In a general way, the US has always been reluctant to join organizations that have the potential to usurp the power and sovereignty of the nation-state. One can see this from the rejection of American membership into the League of Nations after the First World War. It seems that the UN particularly has been the target of this generally negative perception of supranational organizations. Alternating between the argument that the UN is an ineffectual bureaucracy with no teeth and that the UN will take away the ability of Americans to govern themselves, US/UN relations seem to fitfully fluctuate on a love-hate scale.

On page 20 of the Siochru, et. al. book, it is stated that "moral authority is one of the main pillars on which global governance rests, and it is easily eroded." I briefly want to discuss how the structure of the UN erodes the organization's moral authority and how this sense of ineffectiveness is then exacerbated by American media. As the chapter states, the real power in the UN rests not with the General Assembly but rather with the Security Council. The Security Council is comprised of 15 members, 10 of whom are permanent. These permanent members all have the right to veto any decision made by the Council, in which the state's interests differ from those of the Council (in essence the rest of the world). Since many instances of global conflict result in economic, social or political gain for at least one permanent member of the Security Council, the ability of the UN to intervene in a conflict on behalf of the international community is severely stilted.

The American media in turn uses situations in which the US is in favor of a Security Council resolution and is vetoed by another member of the Security Council to highlight the ineffectiveness of the UN, while also reenforcing the role of the nation-state. However, when the US vetoes a Security Council resolution, it is my perception that there is a lot less media coverage. What coverage there is basically says that the US government thought it better for, most importantly, America and (in the fine print) the international community to not pass this resolution, further delegitimizing the UN and strengthening the posture of the state.

I do not disagree with the general consensus that nation-states are increasingly losing the ability to influence the forces acting on and within their countries. However, the ability of the UN to act as an effective institution for global governance is still highly suspect. The irony of IGOs taking on the responsibilities of global governance is that their effectiveness is inherently linked to that of the state, since it is through the state that IGOs acquire power.