Monday, October 5, 2009

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?


  1. Chemia-
    This is an issue that I too struggled with after this week's readings. It seems as though local communities, and definitely minorities, are trapped in a system dominated by global firms. Not only are their voices rarely expressed or heard, but the potential of local firms to compete with global ones is unfathomable. As pessimistic as it sounds, I don't see hope for small firms and local communities to express their cultural ideas. To me, this is a flaw of global technology but seems avoidable with the rising wealth and power of the elite firms.

  2. Zoe, did you mean unavoidable with the rising wealth and power of the elite?
    I was also struck by similar issues in this weeks readings. I knew that Time Warner and the News Corporation were huge, but I did not realize how long the list of their holdings really are. I'm sure that people in other non-Western states don't care about this (many people here don't know or don't care). People in other nation-states do want to see local media and not lose their cultural flare. They want to watch things on their TVs that have something to do with their country, culture and, of course, in their own language. However, Hollywood movies, for example, are very popular worldwide. So are American TV shows. I do think there needs to be a mix of local and foreign media in every country because I think audiences should have choices. If they want to watch a local station, they should be able to. However, even some local channels or tv stations or foreign owned. So sadly, even if a developing nation watches the shows in their language, it is often coming from the big media conglomerates. This is an economic issue as well because how are these developing countries in the periphery supposed to catch up if the big foreign companies are taking all the business?