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 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:

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.