After reading Hanson’s chapter 3, “The Globalization of Communication,” I recognized the stark contrast regarding the purpose of media in Western versus non-Western countries. When describing Western intentions, Hanson notes, the United States encouraged “liberalization of trade and services, its most important export sector” (66). This quotation demonstrates the economically, export driven intentions of Western media and the encouragement for international corporations and investments.
However, the objectives of Western media contrast those of non-western nations. It seems that non-western nations are often more concerned with preserving individual cultures rather than using media as an export commodity. As Hanson notes, media in developing countries began as a form of educational and cultural preservation, rather than as a defense tactic as it was used in the United States. The maintenance of cultural identities persists today through processes of localization. For example, India preserves its culture through language retention and promotion by broadcasting local media in rural villages and in native languages. This localization strategy, through which countries such as India, Brazil, China and Italy have adopted American media programs, such as MTV and altered them to suit their national preferences, demonstrates the non-western desire to preserve national cultures.
As Hanson notes in Chapter 5, many scholars would argue that global digitalization creates a dependency on the West. I agree that developing nations are initially dependent on the West for media infusion, but nations then alter the media to satisfy the demands of their own culture, thus becoming independent from the West. For example, India brought media and advanced communication to its rural villages during the Gyandoot project, in an attempt to maximize the relationships between citizens and government officials by reducing corruption and increasing communication. This project depended on Western technology but morphed the usage to benefit itself.
Thus, I find that an essential difference between western and non-western media is the use of media as an export and liberalizing medium in Western nations, whereas many developing nations import Western formats of communication and shape them to satisfy local and national cultural identities. Rather than promoting cultural identities as an alternative to Western ideals, many nations, such as India, actually aim to preserve national ideas through containment and broadcast of local news.
Another interesting idea created in the Hanson reading is the concept of freedom and democracy in media. Hanson mentions the extremism that develops within the Al-Jazeera network, such as the flagrant images of dead American soldiers. Thus, with the rise of private, democratic, and international networks, news media is changing. This encourages me to question the purpose of media. Is it to retain national languages and cultures, through localization and containment, such as in India? Or is it to promote and globalize anti-Western cultures through international networks such as Al-Jazeera?