Thursday, September 30, 2010

Week 5: Media Regulation

In this week’s discussion of governance and regulation, one item which stuck out to me was the idea of regulation of media. In what forms is it acceptable or unacceptable? Regulation comes from industry and societal values, but there was one component of regulation which I felt could be analyzed a bit more: financial contributors to media agencies.

Media is majority profit-driven. The focus in the 24-hour news cycle is how to keep viewers and make money to keep a show going, thus the sensationalized news that dominates channels such as CNN, Fox, and most national nightly news programs. The emergence of entertainment media programs on television is another form of sensationalizing news

Diversity of information is necessary to hold governing bodies accountable. The credibility of information is equally important. In today’s society, the convoluted structure of news corporations, organized both vertically and horizontally, and across products

Disney owns ABC, Comcast is about to merge with NBC, News Corporation owns Fox News, and each of these owns levels of productions of goods and services, in addition to their media outlets. Finding out who owns who, what is reported by each news agency, what products are shown favorably or unfavorably and how that relates to who owns the news agency, can be a complicated process, one which is sometimes intentionally done.

Thus, financial disclosure is incredibly important in determining the credibility of news sources, and is an element of regulation which I feel is not emphasized enough. The same thing goes for political leaders, who argue and make decisions that often reflect the interests of their investors, or those who have donated money to their campaigns, more so than their constituents.

Comedian Robin Williams suggested a solution for this issue in politics which I think can be applied to the media industry. He said that politicians should be more like NASCAR. Instead of Hugo Boss, perhaps it would be a better idea for politicians to wear suits of the logos and names of their “sponsors,” or campaign contributors, much the same way a race car driver would. Although politicians are generally required to list their contributors online, this type of requirement has a certain immediacy that’s lost in searching the virtual realm. Since this visual aid would have an enormous effect, I believe the same concept could be applied to media corporations and news shows on television. Imagine that during Glenn Beck’s hourly show, he is required to have, let’s say, all of his advertisers, and the contributors to News Corp., listed in a running band along the bottom of the screen. Would this make you more or less likely to find him credible? What if the same policy was applied Chris Matthews’ show?

Regulating the disclosure of financial information would lend credibility to news sources. This type of regulation is not the same as regulation of content, although it would probably have an impact on the content that’s produced. Once people know that one of your sponsors is a major pharmaceutical company, or your parent company (such as GE, etc), then it’s easier to see why some advertisements or some stories run over others in programming. Though this may be a simplistic idea, it still deals with an issue which affects the general public, and it should be dealt with, one way or another.

Week 5: Media Governance

I believe that Media is an essential living aspect in today’s modernity and civilization that requires regulation just like other life aspects. However, majority of stakeholders in the emergence of media have played role in regulating what serves their interest. Then new concepts appeared to demonstrate equality media in democratic states such as net neutrality, objectivity, copyrights, pluralism, and diversity. And these agents may have worked towards equality, but only on a large scale. For example, in the American media, some outlets have their own trends and orientation that do not necessary represent considerable segment of the American population. And for a foreign viewer media should reflect the public sphere. Thus these media outlets communicate their own thoughts rather than portraying the actual public sphere. It is true that pure objectivity in the media is very difficult to attain, but if we assume it was successful, independent thinkers will be able to reason and to articulate information with their own sense with little influence of the source of information. But media has firm stands, in a way or another it forces individuals to take part of one of the available stands in the media. It makes audiences only receivers that follow what they like, with little space analysis.

However, it is argued that governance and regulating media limits freedoms and restricts the transmission and transparency of communication that is appreciated. In fact, total freedom would lead to chaos, and would produce harmful and unexpected harms that would have social, ethical, religious, and political implications. Therefore, regulations are needed but should maintain essential aspects for communication such as access, transparency, and objectivity. With international communication and globalizations media has enabled organizing and managing the frames of recipients’ exposure in the international arena. And this is illustrated in the existence of customized media outlets to certain regions in the world such as CNN, BBC, and Aljazeera. So does such customization is favored to these audiences? Wouldn’t an African audience want the see CNN exactly like it’s been presented to the Americans? Or maybe someone conservatives would prefer social, religious, and cultural considerations put in mind when these media are broadcast in the region. Which orientation is better? I personally would prefer the first model because it would help understand how the media in foreign countries is channeled, and the people in there countries receive news. Whereas, the second model would make me feel being manipulated in the way these media want to tailor information to suite me in its own perspective.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Week 4 What Privatization of Gobal communication means to us?

Since when it became a shame to say the communication services within a nation-state are subject to the state regulations? Since when it became a fashion to claim that the communication market of a nation-state is liberalized and open to privatization?

After reading this week's reading "Global Communication Infrastructure", I am impressed by the scale and depth of the privatization of the global communication that has been taking place since the late 20th century.

In the reading, the author cited two case studies: Intelsat and the Murdoch's News Corporation.
Intelsat first emerged as a product of the global communication liberalization--it was created in 1946 as an intergovernmental treaty organization to operate a global satellite system for telecommunications services, offering affordable satellite capacity on a non-discriminatory basis. At the time it was created, commercial satellite communication did not exist and most telecommunications organizations were state-controlled monopolies.
The clients of Intelsat included 143 member countries, and its main goal is to provide equal access to satellite communications for countries in the world. It used to play crucial rols in bringing satellite technology to the South. However, after the privatization, merger and acquisition happened from 2002 to 2005, Intelsat has to charged the same rate for all routes. Given their economic situation, poorer countries found it difficult to afford the satellite communication services.
Not only intelsat, generally speaking, empirical experience suggests that nowadays the satellite communication as a result of the great contingency of the global communication demands substantial investment and high risk, therefore only large businesses and governments will be able to afford this kind of service.

Intelsat: Rich communication, poor democracy: poorer countries cannot afford to get their words across.

Rupet Murdoch's Media Empire: The eyes of the world are on us: Cultural imperialism
Murdoch's ambition to create a global communication empire has brought TV stations,Radios, newspapers, magazines from across the continents reaching nearly half a billion people in more than 70 countries. Although many of its overseas operations is broadcasting the contents they subscribe from the host countries', the large part of the news corporation TV programs and news are produced based on the News Corporation proposition. In my perspective, this is what Murdoch's statement " The eye of the world are on us" really means.

Summary: The global shift from state regulation to market-driven policies are evident in all sectors of international communications--take a look at Murdoch's sweeping-floors acquisitions thru the globe, and the Intelsat transforming from a international non-profit to a private hold communication hardware--the expansion of private capitals in the global communication system have also contributed in widening the gap between the rich and the poor and not necessarily creating more public sphere for democracy.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Week 4: Globalization and Anxiety

I still don't really understand globalization. I know I've seen it, I know people are anxious about it, and I know that it is not easily defined. The debate over the extent of globalization's reach is involved in every facet of international relations. Free trade agreements and deregulatory measures provoke a looming fear that with transnational economic integration comes the fall of what Thomas Friedman would call 'the olive tree' at the expense of promoting the values of the 'Lexus' (actually, I honestly only kind of read that book)... Sinclair voices the side of some current globalization theorists who play down the fears of cultural imperialism-put forth by Schiller, that 'the export of consumerism' is a homogenizing force that pushes the Western capitalist agenda. Rather, Sinclair gives agency to the individual to make choices, and also says that the hegemonic, economic forces weren't necessarily successfully imposing those values by merely existing. In my eyes, whether a product of globalization or not, capitalism has taken root and is the foundation through which people in developed countries still fear the dilution of their native culture. Like Sinclair says, citizens have choices. But maybe what makes some people uneasy is that they can see people making lifestyle choices that are outside of the traditional norms.

Appadurai also has a phrase, "community of sentiment" which I think is what many people are afraid of losing. One's culture, and the cultural artifacts that help make their culture unique, is what helps form a shared sense of community and belonging. So when people see these things are at stake, it may make them feel like they are losing their community. Not just old people, either. Well, mostly old people..

In my travels I've seen some examples of these difficult kinds of compromises. There was a well-publicized incident in Korea where an elderly man struck a young girl who was wearing a skirt he deemed too short. You can say this was just an isolated incident, but it's not. It's one type of generational gap caused by the importation of Western standards (via media), which sometimes fit awkwardly into the collectivist culture that is Korea. In Belgium I was eating at this Belgian waffle place with a friend who was proudly saying how the Belgian waffle could only be produced by a Belgian. The restaurant was reinforcing it too, by stating on their menu that this product was unique to their restaurant and their country. Yes, it was a marketing gimmick, but I think underlined by a sense of pride and propriety to their cultural artifact. But they were also selling bags of this waffle mix on the menu, so obviously they were willing to let this artifact escape into the hands of foreigners, in the name of revenue. Not exactly practicing what they preach. I don't know if these are really true examples of globalization, or in the Korean case, cultural imperialism, but they are tensions that are undoubtedly caused by the same anxiety that globalization provokes.

Week 4: Global and Local Media in a "Globalized" World

In the criticisms of globalization theory we discussed in class this week, one feature which brought the most debate was that of Colin Sparks’ somewhat narrow definitions of what constitutes a theory, and how it is supported.

Although Sparks does raise some good questions in his polemic essay, particularly pertaining to evidence and hard data to support the existence of true globalization, he takes somewhat large leaps of logic in his censure of its tenets.

The example I’d like to examine today is the theory of a decentralized world, in which the state is undermined by international organizations and new local movements in an erosion of the “Westphalian” system. In this theory, these developments are due to an influence by the evolution of media technologies. The result is the emergence and strengthening of both global and local media. While I won’t go so far as to say this is entirely true, there is some interesting evidence, mainly the media industry, which can contribute to the discussion.

Sparks uses his argument against this theory purely in a political sense, looking at the nation-state’s existence as proof that the theory of globalization is incorrect. He says that the classic definition of the nation-state as an institution that has a monopoly on violence hasn’t changed at all. The scale of media imperialism, Sparks says, is the only thing that has changed.

This is true. The scale of media has changed dramatically, in terms of its technological and societal reach. And anyone who is in the media industry, particularly the traditional media industry of newspapers, knows that there has been a dramatic shift in how content is created, produced and marketed.

Most media (or most successful media) is based in the developed world, mainly in the United States, according to Sparks. And it is in the US that we can see the clearest evidence of the globalization theory of the “emergence and strengthening of both global and local media,” which is contrary to Sparks' theory.

The traditional way of thinking is gone, when it comes to how the news is reported. Multi-platform outlets are now the norm, with increased user generated content and social media that “enhance” the audience’s experience with news. The online medium is one example in which global and local media are thriving. The news of the world trumps national news on almost every website. And hyperlocal news sites, such as the recently launched, reflect the increasing emphasis and relevance of local news.

This is due in part, I believe, to the idea of a globalized society, but not necessarily globalization in the way our readings have laid it out. As the world becomes more connected, and in a way, a great deal smaller, people feel a stronger connection to the world outside their immediate surroundings. However, the tie to a “home base” can become even stronger, the more you are out in the world. Because of the increased capacity for connectivity, it is easier for people to attach themselves to their home base, as evidence by hyperlocal sites on the Web, and easier for them to extend their comfort zone into the rest of the world, as evidence by shows like “World News” on ABC.

And while the term “globalization” is increasingly difficult to pin down, there are at least examples of an inter-connectedness so vast that audiences, particularly in the realm of the media, have extended their reach to a new, wider society and a stronger connection to their local one.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Week 4: Globalization!

Globalization is a very controversial topic that influences various aspects of life. Starting with what started globalization, when it started, how it influence, how flexible is it, and what factors foster it, and how can it play role productively in the international arena.

Advancement in communication has helped expediting the process of international exchange (globalizing) by overcoming time and space in terms of communication. Since communication is the ship that transmits the exchanged materials, the role of communications is prominent in the process of globalization. I personally believe that globalization as a multiple way of exchange has been taking place through out history. People from different states have always been exchanging trade, knowledge, and even cultural traits that become adopted and incorporate within the culture, but in a very slow pace. For example, borrowed words, and commodities that are imported from far areas in the world become essential aspects that characterize these people. For example, in the Arabian Peninsula the Indonesian and Indian burning scent wooden sticks (oud) has become an intense part of the Arab culture. And this happens in all cultures. In fact, it represents the Arab heritage despite the fact that the wood is imported. Such cultural exchange has been taking place since early ages of human life.

Globalization is no longer a dominance of a state or nation. Nowadays with empowering individual interconnectivity; citizens have become able to create media production through their personal technical capacity. Individuals are now becoming major contributing actors in the process of globalization. Blogs, Youtube, and other outlets enable individuals to express their beliefs, ideas, and culture in an inexpensive way. Individuals are able to mobilize groups and create transnational coalitions that could work effectively. Therefore, the process of globalization has gone beyond states and nations powers.

Globalization has been accused for cultural imperialism that cause loss of cultural specific values and affect identities. However, not everything brought in the process of globalization is simply taken. Audiences are usually selective, and whatever resonate to them becomes effective. Since people have solid cultural ties to their origin, foreign materials would affect them based on their selectivity, thus would have limited impact on their identities. But what might be dangerous is the future generation that is brought up in the middle of globalized era whose background will be transnational. The big challenge for the offspring to identify what is original and what is imported. That’s when globalization endangers local identities.

In fact, layers of cultural effects under the cultural imperialism work differently from place to another. This varies based on the flexibility and nature of people, in addition to the sensitivity of the topic. For example, with the intense emergence of western media products into the Arab and Muslim market, some life style aspects are strongly apparent due to such influence. However, any aspect that might enact religious and profound dogmatic beliefs, or promote for taboo aspects in the culture will either be eliminated media outlets or strongly attacked by conservatives who are the majority in these societies.

With time many nations have become aware of the role of media production in causing the hegemony of the US, and its powerful role in the process of globalization. Therefore, global media production has become a goal to many developed and developing nations such as the Chinese animation, and Indian Bollywood. In fact, the American media production has become a model for many media around the world that created domestic media competition that aims to grow globally. And of course that would not have worked without the existence of satellites and other communicative channels available today.

Finally, despite the shortcomings that might be seen of globalization, I think that it has helped reducing cultural, political, and economic differences and gaps between states, nations and individuals. Being exposed to what is known as global culture, and to other cultures simplifies international interactions at different levels. Understanding cultural differences, and knowing what to expect will minimize conflicts and enables smooth communication between international counterparts at various arenas.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Week 3: The Diaspora and the Niche Market

Our readings this week focused on several elements pertaining to nationalism, among them the diaspora, or the transnational, “imagined community.” It is implied in the readings that the diaspora is facilitated on a mostly ethnic basis. As people disperse throughout the world, either forcibly or voluntarily, the way they maintain contact is through the diaspora, as a means of keeping elements of culture and national identity alive.

Karim H. Karim states that people draw from their similar or shared beliefs, customs, symbols and myths, from their territorial origins (the idea of the “old country”) to create these diasporas. These psychological motivations create a strong sense of nationalism, even though there may not be a fixed “nation” to hold on to anymore. The host of diasporas has created a market for content in the media, everything from television shows to music to newspapers created for niche markets.

But as the media and its technologies have progressed, the world seems to have gotten smaller. It’s not hard for an immigrant in New York City to communicate with loved ones at home in Albania, or to find someone from their home country to go to the movies with in NYC. The idea of the “nation” is no longer connected to territorial boundaries.

As Karim puts it, the broader range of human dispersals means that the diaspora is not just based in a homeland myth. I would argue that the diaspora is no longer simply connected to ethnicities, but any niche interest that creates a strong psychological bond and results in products and media targeted to that bond. The so-called “Red Sox Nation,” for example, is not ethnically based, and anyone who’s witnessed a game at Fenway Park wouldn’t dispute the attachment to the team. Many fans, in fact, would identify themselves as Sox fans first, Americans second.

Diasporas add to a sense of a global identity. Because of the multitude of outlets for media, the broad range of people they reach, everyone, not just the originators, can partake. It is not only a way for an ethnicity to stay in touch, it is a way for others to learn. This might be a simple, idealistic proposal, but through the diversity of diasporas, and the interaction between them, a true “global identity” could be created. Although the mass of diasporas could highlight the differences between cultures or national identity, the similarities would also be highlighted. In the public sphere, making distinctions between cultures might find parallels that would surprise us.

Nationalism and Media!

Nationalism is identified by the common ground that is shared by people living in a particular area. These grounds are related to shared values, believes, culture, heritage and future. For example, being raised in a particular state makes individuals get inspired by its people, and its welfare. Hence these individuals feel they belong to this state and that they are part of its people. These feelings are formulated by education and other factors such as Media. Media has an influence on how nationalist people feel and how their feeling of belonging is interpreted by actions and sayings that reflect nationalism. For example, a good citizen is characterized by actions such as, volunteer work and social work, which are heavily promoted in the domestic Media. However, foreign Media affect people differently, some people may view foreign media production as an entertaining source that is not related to their actual life and reality since it is not representing and echoing their culture. Thus, such influence is very limited. However, it increases the awareness about other cultures and creates a global “cosmopolitan” identity that feels it belongs to the further area its concern has reached.Public spheres are very influential for civil societies and nations communicate domestically. This influence reaches globally with international public spheres. The role of public sphere in some conservative states represents the voice of the opposing party to the government (crisis of legitimacy). International exposure on public sphere on large scale especially with the introduction of advanced communication technologies creates sub-public spheres within the public mainstream, but that does not necessary contradicts with the local public sphere that domestics belong to. With Internet, virtual public spheres gather people from all around the world on a particular cause. This sphere may be strange to the national public sphere but will be familiar and common to the global one. And these spheres usually adopt a specific ideology that would influence the state public policies. For example, the influence of the international public sphere (global networks) have influenced some economic decisions regarding international trade/markets in some states and imposed new dealings that have been urged by influential public groups, in addition to affiliation to international organizations that govern and regulate international interactions. Such impact may urge the demand for social, cultural, educational, political, and economic change. However, the influence may vary from nation to another depending on the nature of people and state. To some conservative people change must come from and within the people themselves and not a direct foreign impact; hence, to those, change could take time to be effective (crisis of identity). On the other hand, some states do not allow a space for change that comes from public sphere; In fact, to these states a global public sphere may seem betrayal and would face suppression for any effort taken. Therefore, public sphere may focus on only on global issues that do not deal with the state sovereignty such as, global warm, AIDS, cancer, and recycle (Crisis of efficiency) in which changes change is not in state’s hand. With the existence of virtual civic global societies, the reduction of conventional public sphere is apparent. And minorities of global societies in some states have empowered with the strengthening the individual communication on the international arena. These minorities may play role on global scale rather than domestic one as they gain power from international entities, such as UN, and Amnesty international. And because the good cause of these entities, public and international media garnish the portrayal of these NGO.This is illustrated in the notion of Diaspora; local media production intensifies the values, and beliefs of the people’s homeland rather than being influenced by the domestic Media of the area they live in; that to them it seems to be foreign. But that does not change the fact that these people belong to their physical location as they belong to their spiritual and inspiring homeland. Thus, incorporating the belonging to these groups could be mixed with where they feel belong and where they feel they are inspired from. In fact, these people would feel like strangers when they are in their homeland. Thus some scholars might questions their nationalism, as their influential channels are not pure from where they live but also imported from their homeland. Research would help understanding and sorting the conflict of identity for sub-culture groups, how domestic and international media affect them, and how they identify their nationalities that appear to be misunderstood by an outsider.

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Week 3: Diasporas and Identity

I found this week’s discussion and reading on diasporas an interesting topic to consider. As Professor Hayden pointed out, deterritorialization is the idea around which diasporic communities are defined. When you no longer have that shared physical space of culture, ideology, and nationalism how does your identity transform and evolve? So much of our identity is formed around our learned behaviours as children growing up in a very culture-specific environment. Even the instance of the homeschooled little boy who is grows in a homogenous WASP-dominated town, and who many public school-educated urbanites would view as a bit of a philistine, has his own sense of identity based around the ideas he was fed in his development. No matter how comfortable we are in our nation, when that space is lost and we are placed in a new one, internal identity crises are bound to occur. One doesn’t shed their own cultural skin just by being in a foreign environment, some find it easier to adapt than others, but the effects of our cultural systems can still be seen in the way we interact with others in our new environment, or the way we portray that cultural aspect of our identity.

So far graduate school has strained my ability to think, but one question that I think deserves a little space to dwell amongst the mess of theories still settling in up there is-what is the difference of forming identity between diasporic communities who have consciously made the decision to be detached from their motherland, and those who are forced to find a new space?

There isn’t the space, and I don’t have the mental capacity to consider how identity is formed among those immigrant populations who willingly took the risk to settle in a new place. There are a very high number of factors to consider-the accessibility of the new place they are assimilating into, the personal openness to compromising their identity for a new one, the exposure of their distinct culture they provide future generations in their families and communities, etc. It’s a lot to consider, and one that I don’t have the experience to write on.

But obviously choice plays a role, I’m sure Sudanese refugees in Chad aren’t trying to fully embrace their new surroundings. Their situation is much too tenuous, temporary, and uncertain. My situation pales in comparison, but as a Korean adoptee, I can reflect a little on what it means to be part of a diasporic community that did not consciously choose to be placed into a new cultural context. It is a bit of a unique situation to be in, we truly fill that ‘3rd space’ mentioned by Homi Bhabha in the Karim article, and this crisis in identity affects some adoptees much more than others. Unlike ethnic communities that make up our cities, we have a much more fractured and intangible sense of shared identity. For those who it is a formidable part of their identity, the struggle to reconcile the pull of two motherlands can be just that, a struggle. For others, there is no issue, they are obligated to identify themselves as an adoptee but it is secondary to the other parts of how they view themselves. Regardless of these sorts of identity dynamics, the underlying common point remains.

What I have seen living both here and back in Korea is the formation of a true diasporic community with a voice and an agenda. I think just as when immigrants unite around issues that affect their ethnicity, Korean adoptees have done the same. This has manifested itself in a pretty powerful way, the adoptee population in Korea has succeeded in changing the citizenship laws in South Korea so that holding dual citizenship will be a possibility of next year. This effort was led through media outlets and creating public pressure on the government via tools of mass media. It is a strong example of how one diaspora has not only strengthened its sense of self, but affected actual political change. The foundation of the movement is all about the idea of choice. One of the primary arguments is that adoptees were not afforded the choice to abandon their motherland, and many want to find their way back. Korea is definitely not quite ready to comfortably embrace them, or to confront the ongoing issues of transnational adoption in their country. But the power of the adoptee diaspora has succeeded in not only the legislative aspect, but more importantly opening a space for a new controversial dialogue in a generally rigid and conservative society.

Lastly, there is an irony in all of this-if the adoptee community in Korea succeeds in their goal to reduce the number of transnational adoptions, they are simultaneously working for the reduction of their own community.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Week 3 New Deceiving Propaganda Tactic: Framing Propaganda under the frame work of Global Public Sphere and Global Governance.

New Deceiving Propaganda Tactic: Framing Propaganda under the frame work of Global Public Sphere and Global Governance.

The post 911 propaganda of the Bush Administration was compared as no difference to the Nazi’s propaganda, according to Noam Chomsky. Noam Chomsky argued that the concept of democracy is attacked by the U.S. post 911 propaganda. He said “What honest people are saying is that ‘paying attention to our own crimes and stop committing it” and should not jump into others’ homelands to kill millions of people leaving a country devastated and the people suffering from chemical wars.

From my understanding, the nowadays’s globalization trends created a even harder battle for those anti-propaganda. To better understand the argument, I would like to take a step back for now and look at the bigger picture.

Public Sphere is first introduced by Habermas meaning “an area in social life where people can get together and freely discuss and identify societal problems, and through that discussion influence political action.” (Hauser, Gerard 1998) And in accordance with the globalization, the Global Public Sphere is usually interpreted by scholars as “through global media and Internet networks is the most effective form of broadening political participation on a global scale, by inducing a fruitful, synergistic connection between the government-based international institutions and the global civil society. This multimodal communication space is what constitutes the new global public sphere.” (Castells, Manuel 2008) It is usually understood in the frame work of Global Civil Society, which is popularly interpreted as “rise of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) with a global or international frame of reference in their action and goals.” (Castells, Manuel 2008)

Global governance is another concept that can help us better understand how the
propagandists deceive in making use of the global civil society. Global governance can be understand as due to “the increasing inability of nation-states to confront and manage the processes of globalization of the issues that are the object of their governance, network states ad hoc forms of global governance and, ultimately, to a new form of state, examples are as follows: APEC, ASEAN, United Nations International Monetary Fund, World Bank, NATO.

After examining these concepts in the bigger picture, let’s look back at the argument. So the globalization brought up the trends of Global Public Sphere, and the Global Governance. These tendencies simply created scopes for the deceiving democracy imperialism to take place under the cover of them. Look at these organizations: Voice of America – broadcasting the blocked news to the people living in the non-democratic countries, NATO – all the NATO members were involved in the Gulf War and most of them directly or indirectly sponsored the Iraqi and Afghanistan War. APEC and ASEAN have been accused of being instruments of Chinese government economic bullying on the Southeas Asian member countries.

The National Endowment of Democracy (NED) is a cannot-be-better example. The NED funded international NGOs in the name of advocating for democracy and many of which are international NGOs, such as the Fa Lun Gong, and the World Congress of Uyghur. They which are categorized by Chinese government as “Terrorism groups” and “Religion Extremists”.

It might sound ironic, but please imagine and do this comparison:
U.S. -- Al-Qaeda--“terrorists” - war --while China’s is accused of being “behind Iran and Palestine”
China –Dalai Lama and Radeer - “Terrorism group” and “religion extremists” -- U.S. based NED is sponsoring Dalai Lama and Radeer.

According to Castells, Manuel there are three features characteristics of the international NGOS must be emphasized: “In contrast to political parties, these NGOs have considerable popularity and legitimacy, and this translates into substantial funding both via donations and volunteerism. Their activity focuses on practical matters, specific cases, and concrete expressions of human solidarity: saving children from famine, freeing political prisoners, stopping the lapidation of women, and ameliorating the impact of unsustainable development on indigenous cultures. What is fundamental here is that the classical political argument of rationalizing decisions in terms of the overall context of politics is denied. Goals do not justify the means. The purpose is to undo evil or to do good in one specific instance. The positive output must be considered in itself, not as a way of moving in a positive direction. Because people have come to distrust the logic of instrumental politics, the method of direct action on direct outputs finds increasing support. Finally, the key tactics of NGOs to achieve results and build support for their causes is media politics (Dean, Anderson, and Lovink 2006; Gillmor 2004). It is through the media that these organizations reach the public and mobilize people in support of these causes. In so doing, they eventually put pressure on governments threatened by the voters or on corporations fearful of consumers’ reactions. Thus, the media become the battleground for an NGO’s campaign. Since these are global campaigns, global media are the key target. The globalization of communication leads to the globalization of media politics (Costanza-Chock 2006).”

These interpretations mean that
1, Goals do not justify the means, no matter what cover that propaganda is using, propaganda is propaganda.
2. Through the frame work of global civil movement and the influence of global public sphere, it’s very easy for propagandists to take advantage of public’s trust on such medium and play the new persuasion game.

Is it working?
I took a look at the NED funded NOGs based on China mainland. Many of the listed names are in the government’s black list, from my belief, which means that they cannot reach out to the public almost “at all”. This trigger the question—so how do these blocked NGOs work? Are the NED’s efforts working in China? This could be my question for further research.

CASTELLS, Manuel. "The New Public Sphere: Global Civil Society, Communication Networks, and Global Governance".The ANNALS of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, Vol. 616, No. 1, 2008, pp

Hauser, Gerard , 1998 "Vernacular Dialogue and the Rhetoricality of Public Opinion", Communication Monographs 65 (2): 83–107 Page. 86,

Friday, September 10, 2010

Culture Industry

In the Thussu reading he brings up the theory born from the Frankfurt School of ‘culture industry.’ The theorists from the Frankfurt School argue that the commodification of ‘cultural goods’ helped advance the capitalist structure while simultaneously subduing the rise of alternative forms of socio-political behaviour. While I can see the logic of opposite views that argue the concept of culture industry is overstating the influence of mass media and understating the individual’s agency over how they disseminate information, as a broad way to describe a recent step of our cultural evolution, I think it is an appropriate and accurate description. If ‘cultural goods’ is describing the mass distribution of books, film, and music-as it was in the UNESCO report of 1982, then I would say culture industry has become an even more significant trend since the original theory was put forth.

The formation of global and national media conglomerates has definitely narrowed the space available for other alternative forms of media. In some countries, 3 or 4 daily newspapers act as the main source of news information, and are sometimes produced by the same parent company. Musicians signed to major recording labels are at the mercy of their producers and label in terms of dictating the direction of their music. Movies are written and pitched to studios with money so filmmakers have the same sort of relationship to mass media markets as musicians do. The New York Times bestseller list, Billboard charts, box office charts, whatever form is used to track what is selling-always reflects culture industry. Our cultural products have become as Marcuse says, ‘one-dimensional.’ Yes, people have agency and an ability to make their own choices, but it seems like a large majority of people, myself included in some instances, choose to be part of the ongoing, deeply embedded consumption cycle. Isn’t this pattern of behaviour passive like Thussu states, and haven’t parts of global societies become subordinate to those in power and with control? Artists with cultural messages have themselves become subordinate by choosing to be a part of this structure.

And of course there is room for subculture movements, and there always has been and always will be. Maybe subculture can be seen as a response to this system, kind of like punk rock was, or indie is (but even elements of these subcultures leak into the mass media industries when the artists can no longer resist the monetary reward of engaging in it). Some people have less of a psychological need to engage in what everyone else is, but others lack such a filter. The mass media markets have capitalized on those populations and exported the same structures out into other countries. When I was living in Korea, I found it astounding that my little first-grade female student was listening to the same song and held it with the same level of cultural value, as a forty year old man. How can this be? It is because Korean media markets have followed the Western models and created media conglomerates that systematically can manufacture culture while at the same time strengthen the society’s idea of corporate power structures. It is even easier to implement in a place like Korea which is based around collectivism and psychological needs have much greater value than intrinsic ones, because of this idea of collectivism and moving/identifying as a mass.

One point that leaves me confused in the culture industry argument is that the theory seems to suggest that cultural values were once communicated in a form apart from a commodified good. Obviously, cultural messages are exchanged in the home and as part of our interpersonal relationships, that hasn’t changed. But, what form did the exchange of cultural messages take before media? Weren’t they still marketable commodities in a way? For example, cultural values distorted through messages from the Church, or values promoted through policies of the nation-state, or values perpetuated by inflexible social hierarchies. Although those cultural messages weren’t being packaged and sold in the marketplace, they were still benefitting the ‘ruling elite.’ I have a hard time wrapping my head around cultural messages and values that may have been transmitted before the advent of some sort of media, it just seems like the theorists are suggesting some great space of cultural value was lost because of the nature of mass media today. What and where are these marginalized voices? Some examples would have helped clarify to what extent the effects of cultural industry can be felt, and what exactly it means when our culture is being marginalized. To me, they are talking about lost opportunities to form artistic subcultures or anti-capitalist movements. These chances are out there and available but have just become diminished.

Week 2: The Impact of Time and Space

In our discussion of cultural approaches to communication in class yesterday, there were two forms of media that defined societies, namely, time-biased and space-biased media theories developed by Harold A. Innis. Both of these ideas rest on the physicality of the medium itself in determining a particular society’s development and impact on the rest of the world.

Time-biased media—the heavy, immobile forms of media such as stone tablets or the pyramids in Egypt, were long-lasting, and encouraged the expansion of empires over long periods of time, according to Innis. Societies which used time-biased media tended to be more moralistic and customary, facilitating social hierarchies with their constant reminders of the status quo.

Space-biased media, in contrast, because of its lightness and portability, afforded empires the opportunity for conquest, and although these media didn’t last as long, they were rapidly expansive. Thus, Innis says, space-biased media societies tended toward militaristic and territorial.

Our reading on Innis stated that “empires are characterized by the media they use the most effectively,” with truly stable societies finding a balance in between the two. But something I found interesting, which I’m sure will be addressed in greater detail as the class goes on, is the role that geography plays in determining what media is available, and thus whether a society becomes time-biased or space-biased.

Innis’ discussion examines how media and information technologies affect political and social structures and practices. But Innis also states that “Monopolies of Knowledge” are derived from, among other things, control of raw materials for media. Rome’s conquest of Egypt, for example, gave it the greater access and control to papyrus, which could be seen as advancing its space-biased media and aiding Rome in further conquests.

In applying the time- and space-biased media theories to today, geography is still reflexively involved. Despite its flaws, the dependency theory of communication explains the world is designed in such a way to keep some countries dependent on others, namely, the “Third World” dependent on the “First World.” This is directly tied to colonialism. Imperial countries took over areas of the world because of the commodities they offered—thus, geography was the determining factor.

The space-based media of colonial powers in the 18th and 19th centuries assisted their occupation of territories around the world. But it’s interesting to note what happened at the decline of colonialism, and the decline of colonial powers. As Innis said, an empire reaches its greatest height just before it falls. And when colonial powers fell, the newly independent societies were left with a skeletal infrastructure, and skeletal media base. Thus development was slow-coming, particularly development of media. It will be even more interesting to see how time- and space-based media develop in the former colonized areas of the world, and how that affects the powers of their societies.

Week 2 The Application of the Communication Theories

So, this week's readings basically dealt with theories and concepts, and we have learned:
Bullet Magic, Spiral of Silence, Social Validation,
Cultivation Theory, Mc Luhan's "Medium is the Message", etc.

I am most interested in two theories: The Cultivation theory and the "Medium is the message" school.

Cultivation theory basically addresses to the phenomenon that the more exposure to TV shows, the more likely the receivers are to incorporate the ideas in the shows in their daily life. More importantly, this theory implicates that when young adults are exposed to violence on TV, they are more likely to pick up such violent behavior or embrace the ideas of violence. The theory has critical meaning for contemporary communication studies because it tells the TV industry to be cautious about the impacts of what they broadcast on air.

The” medium is the message” tells that communication technology has important meaning for communication scholars because it was the first in its time to point out how important the changes of medium and technology mean to both the senders and receivers and how technology can drastically changed the way individuals are connected and communicate with each other. For example, the arising of internet and the Web 2.0, social media application have shaped the way even the language people communicating. Social media has created a digital platform where individuals meet and interact with friends and in more cases, “strangers” and “stalkers” at a level that no era before can compared. Individuals feel it is much easier and faster to interact to people in long distance. More importantly, individuals are getting used to a “customized” medium—Blogs, My Space, Facebook, Twitters, Foursquare and so forth. Extremely, by examining a person’s facebook, myspace, foursqure and bloggers, you can effortlessly see through this persons’ personal life. The boundary between reality and digital world has never been so ambiguous. You can argue the negative impacts of such technology changes making people’s privacy vulnerable. However, on the other hand, the level and the scale of such communication style changes is the one at a time and no compare in the history. It even gave birth to a new communication school “Digital Communication”.

In summary, I think both the Cultivation Theory and the Medium is the message tell me that both the content and the medium of communications matter to the receivers and one cannot live without the other for making impacts.

Contemporary Theories

Theories in communication are novel since the discipline relatively new. And because communication plays vital role in different aspects of life and encounters various variables, scholars need to reexamine these theories to validate, invalidate or recast them. Scientists have studied communication and its influence at different levels such as individuals, groups, societies, and states as well.

Since various life aspects incorporate communication; the participants, the media, and the messages that are essential components in the communication process play prominent role analyzing the process of communication. In addition, there are other crucial factors that contribute in the communication process such as, coding, noise, and feedback. Thus, theorizing communication stem from hypotheses that have been observed by the scientists who are concerned about their particular field. Communication is an essential artistic tool that is needed for politician, educators, sociologists, and all professional practitioners. In order to communicate successfully, communicators are required to obtain a complete understanding about their audience and the ways in which their messages are effectively delivered.

However, there are variables within communication that play role in altering the communication process with time. For example, the advancement in communication technologies, and the cultural and social changes today are very influential in characterizing the current interactive players in the communication system. Interactive media available with Internet have empowered online users to become not only recipients but also source of information. Individuals are able to express themselves by broadcast, and participating in whatever they wish, and actually be able to expose themselves at the World Wide Web by digital multimedia. They are able to publish their ideas, and find audience anywhere at any time, and on the other hand, get themselves exposed to others.

Under the rapid developments in information communication technologies, and the other variables that affect communication, former communication theories can be strongly refuted in today’s communication environment. Some of these theories may be valid to certain extend, but the current variables would lead to modifications to make these theories valid today. For example, modernity, and transnational influence on people have increased the level of complexity of audiences. Publics are no longer simply recipients. In addition, psychological, and social implications of these effects contribute heavily in understanding the behavior and attitudes of these individuals. Therefore, communication theories concerned about people may need to be completely reexamined to fit in the system of communication today.

Some communication scholars may find the theories of communication valid as concepts. But many of these theories may need to be modified in order to fit within the description of communication in the contemporary and the future world atmosphere. Therefore, the reexamination of the communication theories in a consistent manner is needed for the verification and validity of these theories.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Week 1 Technology and the New Era of Global Communication

One interesting found from last week's class is that I remember the girl in front of me stated that "Globalization is not just a concept but rather, an ongoing process." in regard of my question.

My original question was "Does the new era of communication, thanks to the new technology, facilitate the process of globalization or hinder it? And following that "how do we define the essence/nature of globalization:is it encouraging more variety and diversity in a synergy fashion? Or is it encouraging more similarity and becoming a 'one world'?"

From my point of view, I think by examining how communication technology evolves over the decades is a good way to find out what exactly the globalization means to us. In short, I believe the evolution of international communication techniques and devices is a reflection of globalization process.

Before the appearance of newspaper, people were living under "unknown social circumstances"--they were not informed with much social, political and cultural actions and even if informed, not in wider dimensions and in-depth level. The coming of newspaper changed the political dynamic--public were more informative than before and they started paying attention to what was going on around their life. Kings and politicians found it more difficult to hide the news, and found a need to communicate with the people and the outside world in order to maintain the governance.
The birth of telephone dramatically shaped he way people communicate with each other. One no longer need to travel across half of the city or the entire country just to get their word out--They were using Telephone. Generally speaking, telephone and telegraph shortened the cultural and social distance between each individuals.

The emergence of telegraph changed the dynamic of international communication and it was the key factor in the World War I information battle. It was from this turning point that governments realized the need of communicating both with their allies and enemies. It was from there Propaganda has been putting into use. It was also from then, history witnesses the emergence of the 4 oldest international news agencies and the agency news era. It was from there that the international community realized the need to setting rules, common agreements and regulations on the international communication. In this regard, technology self-evidently changed the social, cultural and political construction of the world and the world became more and more synergized.

The coming of Television and Radio drastically changed the way people received information. People no longer highly reply on the reading or the listening, but rather than the vivid visual messgaes in terms of communication. It was from there the term "Mass Communication" actually started making the most profound meaning and Mass Commnucation, and Mass Media have became study subject for the scholars.
More importantly, it was also from there, the international communication was facilitated by this form of a gatther of sensual and visual emphasized communication medium. It is instant, fast and generally efficient. We now can also see that most of the communication medium of the AL-QAEDA are based on radio and video. That tells something.

The arriving the internet swayed the TV and Radio dynasty and has almost totally changed the way people live, communication and get together. Along side it's arrival was the new strategic communication strategy which is based on the social media. It has never been such a time in the history that the non-face-to-face, digital,virtualized and customized communication has taken a large proportion in the total amount of people's daily communicaton. The issues of individual privacy, copy rights, national security, information security arising along with this new communication techniques have also forced nation states to rethink about digital communication, it's essence and impacts, and also think about the public diplomacy strategy in this new era.
In the age of digital communication, the world has synergized more coherant as we witness individuals now have more access and various source for information. On the other hand, we also witness individuals could feel even more isolated and the feeling of alienation.

In summary, international communication is in a new era which new technology is playing a role more important than ever. Governments should pay more attention to it and make the best of this trend.