Friday, October 29, 2010

The tools of soft power...

... can be wielded equally by both those who want to see it used for altruistic, bridge-building purposes, and those who have malintended interests. Particularly, the new communication platforms, (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) that have proved to be so influential in shaping cross border relations are also in the hands of groups whose goals are to antagonize and provoke. A recent Wall Street Journal article handed in SIS 644 highlighted the rise of Twitter feeds coming out of North Korea, Iran, and Venezuela. The tweets are highly provocative and have little value in advancing cross cultural understanding. In the case of Venezuela for example, Hugo Chavez uses his account extensively but to a degree that is not purely antagonistic but still very assertive. While he tweeted his congratulations to the Chilean miners, he also constantly evokes Simon Bolivar which could be construed as an inward-directed public diplomacy effort, fostering a sense of nationalism around a shared history, and a figure all can unite around.
Moving to North Korea, the tweets while not originating from within the isolated state (who would see them..?) echo a very aggressive rhetoric that is consistent with much of their interactions with outside nations. Here, the case seems to be the farthest thing from a public diplomacy movement-rather, using soft power means to advance a hard power-based position. Although, they did tweet about a recent victory by the U-21 soccer team over the Australian U-21 team, which seemed strangely out of place surrounded by much more inflammatory remarks!
So, this new use of communication mediums by countries who are less than friendly to the US and others, raises the question of how to define their use. Is it propaganda? Is it public diplomacy? Either way, it seems like all nations are realizing the relevancy in engaging in noopolitik approaches to IR, one that is based around ideas. Posturing through social media seems weird, but also strangely efficient and increasingly a legitimate means of communicating with the world. Especially for the less personable of nations who reduce their communication to 3-4 sentence barbs anyway. Fits the twitter character limit perfectly!

Soft Power

Power can be demonstrated in different ways, either by enforcement or by being able to control others’ motives. On nation states level, countries gain power through politics, economic sovereignty or military arms. Hard power and soft power are tools in which power can be demonstrated. The use of arms, tanks and heavy equipments is considered the tough way towards power. Whereas, media is a soft tool that countries use in a way to display power in other states. Because war and blood shed are very violence many countries prefer to rely on soft power rather than the hard power that disfigure the country’s image and create negative consequences in both parties.

Soft power is effective unless people are extremely aware of it. Rejection may lead to a reflective reaction. When people know that somebody is trying to impose something on them, they may become aggressive towards anything that comes from this party. And soft power may become useless. Therefore soft power needs a recipient that is open and opted to consume what comes to him/her.

In Arab countries, many people believe think that the imported media into Arab and Muslim countries is part of the Western conspiracy in Middle East. The intense injection of Western, in particular American, media products into local media lead to what’s identified by “intellectual invasion”. In a way or another people’s behavior and thoughts are being influenced by Westerns and some concepts are good and others are not. People in these countries consume Western media products that it has been influential to the extent that social scientists may rise alarms for. People may argue that these products are pure entertainment materials and that they wouldn’t affect the Islamic creed. Others would find it a way that leads to deteriorate the local social structure. I personally believe it has an influence, which requires monitoring. For example, MBC has channel MBC 2 that is dedicated to broadcast American movies and programs on a regular base. When school students had a trendy fashion of wearing gothic style. That blamed MBC2, and it became very controversial in the educational and social settings. This influence is a type of soft power, which in fact focuses on youth who are able to absorb more than older individuals. MBC 2 encounters attacks from many conservative people especially in Saudi Arabia. Despite the fact that the mother company censors the channel, many movies have edited sciences. And because MBC is a Saudi private owned company based in another country and broadcast through Satellite, the Saudi government has limited control over it.

Week 10 Using Soft Power in Time of Crisis--Chinese government’s media initiatives during the 2008 Sichuan Earthquake

May 12, 2008, a devastating 8.0 magnitude earthquake took place in Sichuan province, China. From May 12 to 12:00 am, June 14, 2008, the earthquake has caused 69,197 death, 374,176 injured, and 18,289 disappeared. 15.15million people were forced to leave their homes,which added up to 45.55 million victims, according to the Ministry of Civil Affairs of the People's Republic of China (MCA). The 2008 Sichuan Earthquake was the most devastating in the record since the 1976 Tangshan earthquake in China.
The earthquake also caught intensive media attentions in the international community. Mainstream English media outlets such as the New York Times, Time Magazine, Wall Street Journal, BBC, Reuters, CNN, MSNBC had consecutive news reports on the crisis. Chinese state media such as the Xinhua News Agency, CCTV and the China Daily also sent out a large amount of correspondents to the frontlines.
The earthquake occurred at a critical time – it was 3 months before the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Opening, and 3 months after the 2008 Blizzard Crisis and the 2008 Tibet Riots outbreak. The timing of this disaster makes the government’s public/media diplomacy even more worthy or the digging. It will be interesting to look into how Chinese government use soft power to manage crisis communication in a sensitive situation,
Facing such devastating natural disaster, Chinese government seems to have no choice but facing the challenge and taking the responsibility to fix the damages. The corrective of offensiveness and bolstering strategies are better than shifting the blame or avoiding the responsibility – they are actually the only and the best options for Chinese government at the period of time. Both the strategies directly deal with the trauma and the victims.
It is more importantly that strategies are imbedded in effective discourse. The framing and media agenda setting have effectively imbed those strategies in the news papers. The key message was conveyed through the president’s New Year’s speech, and the message which can arouse national morale was incorporated in the various special events and entertainments. Chinese government implemented the strategies in subtle ways – the effective discourse has facilitated the persuasion for the Chinese public.
However, Chinese government failed to seize the first place to announce the earthquake, therefore causing the unexpected panic among the Chinese public. Meanwhile, besides consoling the Chinese people by organizing mourning events and special memorials, it could be better if the government applied the mortification strategy to directly address apology to the general public. By doing this, it would win the government more credits because the public knows the occurrence of the disaster is not the government’s fault and it is considerably humble and caring for the government to issue such an apology.
This case study provides the crisis communication strategies that Chinese government implemented during the 2008 Sichuan earthquake. The government has chosen the right strategies – Framing and Agenda Setting, Bolstering and Corrective of Offensiveness to counter the negative effects of the trauma, repair the national image of China and to generate the Chinese people’s morale. This study also found out that Chinese government failed to seize the first place to inform the domestic public of the crisis thus risking being accused of being irresponsible for its people. This failure might be the result of the influence of the deeply rooted Chinese culture and values of “saving face” and the risks of damaging the rising international reputation that China is getting since the last decade.
Future study about government crisis communication could dig more into the context and historical position where the administration is in, thus the researchers might be able to discover some correlations between the crisis communication strategies applied and the historical context and position in the world that the government possesses.

Week 9: User Content and the Network

In class, we’ve examined the way that technology has radically changed the landscape for communication. In fact, what technology is available is dictating what can be said—today, you only have so many characters to get your point across.

In Chouliaraki’s examination of the symbolic power of media, we reached an interesting point in our discussion of citizen-generated information as a part of a larger communication framework. In the media industry, this term is user-generated content. Rather than focusing completely on the network society, I’d like to examine where UGC fits into the communication network.

The question posed in class was if it was possible to take away the immediacy of direct testimonials, or if UGC would become irrelevant. I would say that UGC is no flash in the pan.

In Chouliaraki’s analysis, user generated content is present in both ordinary and extraordinary news. It presents information to the world by involving those who use it—thus the term “user-generated.” People become active in their absorption of news—witnesses rather than observers. There’s a connection to the information being dispersed, because users are contributors, creators, in the process. The predominant use of this medium has been in emergency or breaking-news situations, such as the protests by students in Iran or monks in Burma.

User-generated content was touted as the “new wave” of journalism, and in many ways as a life vest for the flailing journalism industry, which faced falling revenues and cutbacks and laid off 1/3 of newsrooms.

Because of this emphasis I think that most people considered it a type of band-aid on a gaping wound, rather than a valid application of new technologies to further the communication industry. But in reality, the value of user-generated content is what will keep it a strong force in the journalism industry, and by extension, I think, communication in general. We need look no further than YouTube to see the success of this kind of content.

This concept ties into the idea of symbolic power—but in this case, symbolic power of the user. While they are not the ones who control the technological framework of the network, they are actively involved in controlling the content. In many cases, citizen and user-content used by news organizations is faster and more accurate than traditional sources, and more easily corrected.

One of the first examples of this was during the Mumbai attacks in 2008—in which citizen journalists helped make sense of the confusion following the terrorist bombings through social media sites, such as Twitter and Flickr.

The greatest problem with the idea of UGC, and its use in mainstream communication, is the tendency toward a frenzied approach to coverage, which can be overwhelming. Citizen media can be seen as a hype machine, which follows along with traditional news outlets. But their very existence enables them to be on the frontlines as watchdogs of those traditional outlets. Today, it is in the blogosphere that a wave of protest gains strength, leading to criticisms of the established communication organizations like CNN, Google and Facebook.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Social Networks: Yesterday and today!

Networks have been very important in building personal, social, and professional relationships. Especially in high context cultures where mediation plays role in all transactions. People tend to define themselves by how many people in power do they know. Which will facilitate many procedures, and many times relationships become above the law. Thus, in these countries the structure of networks takes some how a hierarchy forms. On the other hand, networks may take a flat format where the nodes are equivalent or equal, that relationships are built in a horizontal rather than vertical. Both forms of networks function successfully in their own context. So it is difficult to indicate which one better in terms of function and productivity. But I personally think that the horizontal one is better because the nodes would function equally in terms of supply and demand.

Networks used to focus more on the structure and density of the process of communication that takes place within the network. But today networks are being seen through a critical of how the links in this network work, what means are used, what has been communicated, and in which format. It also focuses more on classifying the nodes, and how each node functions within the same network. Before networks were evaluated by the size, and structure, where as today it is being evaluated by the quality of nodes, and the strength of linkage these nodes have.

Internet as a network has exploited much of productive abilities and potential to make it function in a constructive manner. Electronic social networks have transformed the way real network function. Electronic social network helped in broaden the network in a global format. That also facilitated the way in which foreign networks could communicate with domestic ones. and it also enabled creating a vast database to which new networks can emerge. Virtual networks has enabled people to expose themselves the way they want others to see them. So thinking of an individual as a node in a network, who was perceived the way other nodes see it. Today this individual can manipulate and characterize the way in which others perceive him/her. Electronic social networks has also helped relationships to take multiple directions, when it was mostly limited to a single one in the conventional format. For example, linkedin, is a professional social network. its in fact enables the person to add additional personal information to his/her professional profile. This will enable others in his/her network to feel closer as becoming exposed to personal life.

Week 8: Navigating the Network Society

Our class discussion revolved around the network society, on the methods by which people organize their relationships. The associations between nodes, or actors in the network, is what Latour argues are the most important aspect of the network. Through his “principle of generalized symmetry,” Latour explains that everything has a function and a purpose in a network, even inanimate objects, which produce as much of a relationship as humans. Some might find this definition a little too “Terminator,” but James Cameron’s version of humans and machines competing for dominance came from a clearly human perspective, and lacked the objectivity with which Latour examines relationships. Looking purely at their function, machines have as much an impact on the network as human beings. We have made them so, both through the fact that machines are a direct result of human invention, and also through our resulting dependence on them. However, the main problem with Latour’s version of the network society is that it begins to break down once everything is looked at as a network—a bit of analysis paralysis.

So, using Castells’ version of a network as the defining method by which people relate to one another, the associations and relationships between individuals and organizations, can be a bit more of a realistic and feasible option for explaining the network society. The network society has been enabled, Castells says, through several occurrences in the past hundred years or so: economic deregulation, failed reform of the nation-state, the rise of counterculture movements, and a reconfiguration of media and information systems. This leads to Castells’ ultimate concern of how networks distribute power. This is displayed in what I think is his most interesting examination of networks: the flow between nodes, their direction and symmetry. And we can see how networks are becoming more and more complex, as states and organizations, such as those described by Castells, are increasingly the result of network relationships.

Looking too much at the structure of a network can be misleading, however, because ultimately, it is the actors in a network that define how successful it is, as well as its structure. A node could change a network by determining a new direction of flow to another, thereby changing the structure. This connects with our discussion of network literacy, and the keys to navigating the concept of a network society—the most interesting of which I think is citizenship, or determining not only one’s involvement in a network but also one’s responsibility to a network. Because networks define meaning, defining our place within them gives us greater control over their structure and our associations.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Week 6 Digital Piracy and Cultural Globalization

Matellart's article mainly discusses about the correlations between digital piracy and the underground cultural globalization. The scholar moves away from the traditional ethical arguments on the digital piracy and focus the discussion more on the social, cultural and economical contexts of such phenomenon, and the correlations between the expanding digital piracy and the cultural globalization.

In the article, while not denying the negative impacts that digital piracy has from the perspective of industry growth and the intellectual property protection, yet the scholar argued that the criminalization of such phenomenon is mainly to protect the benefits of certain organizations and the industries they represent. The scholar argued that the underground social, cultural and economic networks not only allow the growth of unauthorized reproduction of the visual products--more importantly --they also make the cultural globalization possible in these developing countries.

Follow the scholar's research, I think the free reproduction of the visual products has not only meet the short terms needs of feeding the audience in developing countries, but also has cultivated such appetites that enable the audience in developing countries to appreciate and look for the cultural products from the globe, and therefore, even more advanced--that the local investment and visual arts industry would take initiatives to produce something indigenous and grow up!
Think about Bollywood and the Nollywood (Nigeria), they are the examples of such path!
I think this article look into the digital piracy issue really from a humanity perspective and actually argued that this phenomenon --if appropriately controlled--can contribute positive impacts to the cultural globalization and help the developing countries to grow their industry from copying it to innovating it.
From my understanding, this is a better way to look at the global black market of the visual products. But yes, further research and study should dig into setting rules and regulations to control such kind of unprotected intellectual and information flow as that the expected "cultivation" function can be performed.

Week 7 Can the CNC World save China?

Can the CNC World save China?--China's global media ambition and its own complication

It doesn't surprise me when Xinhua's new 24/7 English News Channel -- “CNC World” announced it picked up Times Square in New York City to root in their news room.
This channel is aimed at providing "A New Perspective" and is part of Beijing's effort to "present an international vision with a Chinese perspective," Xinhua President Li Congjun said at the press conference announcing the launch of CNC World[1]. Such expensive expansion “comes as many Western news media are cutting back.”[2]

China’s ambition about pitching to global audience—especially the English speaking ones has not been well know for long but seems like Beijing has rooted for it for years. It is the not the ambition itself that interests me, it is the root of such desire of expanding a country’s media outreach to overseas audience and the level of attention that the government has paid to public diplomacy that interests me.

The emergence of world’s news agency during the WWII was facilitated by the then-new communication technology—Telegraph and Radio, and in return, the introduction of the new communication technology helped start and elevated the level of the psycho warfare and was one very important determining actor in the deciding battles of WWII and during the Cold War. Look at the era of globalization now we are living in—which follows the highly identical path as it was in WWII: the expansion of global media network and the concept of “Globe Village” has been substantially catalyzed by the internet, cable TV networks, satellite networks and the highly customized, internet accessible multi-media mobile phones. The support from communication technology has been so significant that it has made people wonder the question of “Chicken and Egg” ---“ Globalization and Globalized Communication Network” which one exist first.

However, the individuals nowadays are no longer scattered cells that can be easily persuaded by the “Magic Bullet”—they are even more cohesively connected and sharing information thanks to the new technology. Traditional mass media has been trying hard to “cater” the audience’s appetite – and that is also why so many states’ media outlets have been trying to expand their networks into various demographics and regions, customize their contents, communicate to the audience in their languages and even using satellite to broadcast from local.

Watching the success of the American’s “Cultural Imperialism” success, which is landmarked by the world wide popular TV shows such as “Friends”, “Ugly Betty” and global TV outlets such as Fox, and CNN—Beijing can no longer sit tight. The idea of a 24/7 English Channel has its roots way back—China’s giant state media outlet “China Central Television” (CCTV) began considering English-language international news bulletin actual coverage programming in January 1979 at the start of China's "Reform and opening up". English news bulletins began on CCTV-2 in 1984 and became available to overseas viewers when they moved to CCTV-4 in 1991. CCTV-9 English News International was launched as a 24-hour English-language channel on 15 September 2000.[3] CCTV-9 English News International entered the United States cable market in January 2002 as part of a deal that allowed AOL, Time Warner, and News Corporation access to cable systems in Guangdong. After the launch of the 24-hour service, the channel was revamped a number of times. A rolling service was instituted with news at the top of every hour, although the channel remains heavily dependent on features and entertainment as part of its function to show China to the world.

The Channel name of CCTV-9 English News International Television Channel changed to CCTV News in January 2010.[4] CCTV News' intended audience is foreigners both inside and outside China, specifically those with an interest in the country. Actual viewer numbers for CCTV News are not consistent in different sources. CCTV News claims its potential global audience is 45 million.[5]

Now the introductions of the CNC World has only strengthened and brand of China’s Public Diplomacy. It broadcasts “English-language news, live Internet broadcasts, talk shows and in-depth reporting”[6]
Xinhua agency already has more than 10,000 employees and 120 bureaus around the world, rivaling the reach, if not the quality, of Western news services like Reuters or Bloomberg. Xinhua has begun recruiting non-Chinese journalists from around the world to write for its news services.

However, from my perspective, unlike Al-Jazeera, either the CNC World or the CCTV News cannot really take effect in re-brand China’s image around the world or not even contribute to the public diplomacy efforts unless the agencies build up their credibility more, providing candid news resource about China and really serve as the watch dog for Chinese government's to take on issues of censorship, political prisoners, social injustice, and so forth.

[1] Barboza, David. (2010, July 2). China Puts Best Face Forward in New English-Language Channel. The New York Times, p A4

[2] Barboza, David. (2010, July 2). China Puts Best Face Forward in New English-Language Channel. The New York Times, p A4




[6] Barboza, David. (2010, July 2). China Puts Best Face Forward in New English-Language Channel. The New York Times, p A4

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Week 7: Japanization? Not really..

What are the implications of being exposed to Japanese cultural products? How do they influence our livelihood, and how can we view this impact? As I was reading Iwabuchi's article, I couldn't help but echo his skepticism over the true cultural impact of Japanese goods. Looking at the example of the Walkman which was noted as one of Japan's most significant contributions to the Western culture of consumerism, its presence as a Japanese products plays a secondary role to its presence as a new technological innovation. For the average American, they buy the Walkman from an American retailer and listen to American music on it- the fact it is a product of Japan is a mere passing realization with no staying power. They might appreciate Japan for its innovative power, but they won't all of the sudden demand a more rigid society, eat smaller portions of food, or show more respect to their elders. As for the claim made by Chow that the Walkman signaled the decline of collectivism, while it does provide a more individualistic music experience, it does not completely separate the individual from their environment, and certainly does not have the power to uproot centuries-old, embedded to the point of being invisible, Confucian tradition. It's not like pre-Walkman everyone was sharing their music in an effort to be part of the collective.

In looking at other examples from the article of another Japanese 'C' export-comics and cartoons-while they do contain explicit messages that are reflective of Japan's values, they are also unique to the individual. For example, Miyazake uses the theme of valuing nature in many of his films, but also incorporates the role of an empowered individual child as his protagonist, this is not specific to all Japanese media. When non-Japanese watch his films, they might draw different value from it dependent on their own cultural context. But they do not propagate a particular set of distinctly Japanese values or habits. However, the Miyazake example doesn't have the same intensity of flow that Japanese manga or TV exports have... I don't have the experiential background to be able to comment on the effects of this kind of media, but the fact that nothing immediately pops to mind might be indicative that 'Japanization' has not taken hold in the same way as Americanization. What kind of 'Japanese' message would something like Pokemon send anyway? "Gotta catch them all.." Hoarding? Remember Tamagotchis? Were those from Japan?

Where I do think there are serious implications for Japan's rise as a producer of cultural goods, is just in the general sense of having a presence. The more they export and the more highly dependent countries become of their technology, cars, and media-the more clout they have in matters of political and economic weight, like a free trade agreement for example. This presence is both an asset in their relationships to the US, but also in their region. Perhaps part of the motivation of Hallyu, and the Chinese equivalent, is a reactionary response to what Japan has already accomplished.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Week 6: Cynicism and Communication

In our class discussion, we had quite a lengthy debate on McChesney, and his opinion that there is a tight integration whereby politics have become dependent on the media. I would ask if there has ever been a time when politics wasn’t driven by the media, even looking back pre-Gutenberg. The “media” in that time was mainly oratory, and played just as important a role in shaping public opinion. So yes, media frames discourse—and thus it is used by politics and politicians to disseminate information. McChesney’s main argument, however, basically states that we belong to a de-politicized citizenry marked by apathy and cynicism.

McChesney’s own cynicism, while perhaps justified, can be easily refuted on a few counts. He’s one of those who look back at the “good ole days,” when movies cost a quarter and their neighborhood streets were safe for kids to play. Those who look back on “easier times,” when people were more involved in politics and when community was more important than the individual. In forty years, I’m sure my generation will be saying the same thing.

What McChesney isn’t saying is that people are generally the same as they have always been—the scale is the only thing that has changed. The realm of communication, particularly international communication, is a perfect example of this.

People are connected more now than they ever have been. The scope of communication provides greater capability than any other time in history—both technologically and socially, I would say. People are generally more interested and willing to communicate on a global scale because they can. Yes, there are apathetic people in the world. But you can’t deny that there are active participants in the world, in the political and communicative processes, and that they are far from the minority.

In most respects, communication systems have enabled people to become more active, more politicized, albeit different from the way that McChesney wishes to examine it. Political movements both within and outside of the United States via Twitter and SMS are socially initiated. People are finding new ways to protest, new ways to get their voices heard, with new technologies that transcend borders, nationalities and languages.

As we said in class, in some ways people have become more politicized with the advent of these communication systems, with the number of outlets they have available. This has both positive and negative associations, as it enables more people to communicate, but at times serves as a way to justify marginalized messages—people sometimes watch certain news outlets, for example, as a way to reaffirm their own ideas and opinions. But it doesn’t refute the claim that people are still active, still members of their community. Their community has just grown.

Net Neutrality and Piracy!

Global media governance calls for net neutrality that actually provides even access to different materials on the Internet. It also supposes to allow equal space of contribution in the web. Which in fact contradicts with another resolution related to copyrights of media production. The global effort in making Internet available and affordable to people around the world successfully serves the intercultural exchange at different levels. However, in developing country piracy of international media production is not regulated. Hence, it helps giving access to less fortune people. It is true that piracy violates the copyrights for intellectuals, but its actually helps in wider reach for the distribution and promotion of these media products. This wide reach is an advantage for the producers, despite the fact of the loss of their financial reward. For example, for over a decade Microsoft has been the leading computer’s software producer. That in fact the sales of its un-copied (original) products consist of 7 % only of the gross income of the Microsoft sold products. The 93% copies of Microsoft software products played active role in the universe of Windows on the international arena. Bill gates still the wealthiest man from Microsoft income although only 7% of Microsoft was sold in a legal format that protects its rights. However, I personally think that piracy has served Microsoft to reach worldwide. The fact that there are less fortunate people in developed counties and the regulation of copyrights and piracy limit the access of media products. This in fact impedes the action towards net neutrality that global media governance is calling for.

If for example we assume that media producers become somehow reasonable in profit making and sell their new brand products with the price they wish and making sure to cover the cost. Then after covering the cost, they sell the same products in copies with way affordable low prices, they will be able to overcome the piracy for their products. The fact that once the brand new product is launched for the first time everything about this product is appreciated and highly valued to the company. But after sometime, the product becomes only more copies of the product that just increase the sales. Considering the cost of copies at this time reduction in price would assist the wide reach with way less potential of piracy.

In some counties piracy plays role in breaking borders when dictator governments have strong grip (censorship) over enter cultural materials. Which helps people to reach worldwide despite the restrictions that are imposed through the government. As a matter of fact, piracy has abundantly served in promoting globalization especially in developing counties.

Thinking of both net neutrality and copyrights & piracy, which would be more important in terms of promoting global and transnational communication! and according to producers which would be more important copyrights or achieving wide reach? that's the real battle!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

The Lighter Side of Piracy

As I was reading Mattelart’s article, and he was discussing the pre-digital age use of VHS cassette tapes as the main vehicle of pirated materials, I couldn’t help thinking of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry tapes Death Blow. And then I was reminded of my travels through Southeast Asia where I would run across VHS tapes of long-forgotten gems like Universal Soldier and Troll 2 in those generic, transparent VHS boxes. Move another stall over and there was a cassette tape of Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill sitting next to a burned Hanson CD. Hanging next to this collection of musical must-haves was an oversized Manute Bol jersey next to a Super Bowl XXXIII Atlanta Falcons hat (they were the Super Bowl losers that year). Needless to say, I immediately bought all of the aforementioned items.

I know this isn’t exactly piracy in the contemporary terms that Panethiere is concerned with, but it still has to do directly with those same intellectual property issues that dominate the discussion today. But even in my moments of greatest vulnerability to guilt, I still consider digital piracy with the same level of indifference that I had when buying that ripped off version of Planet Earth for 3 dollars in Vietnam. As I am writing this, I am listening to a newly downloaded album of a band called Discovery which isn’t even a band anymore, and will most likely never miss the cents that ever would have reached them if I had gone to a record store to buy it. That being said, everyone should support their local music stores. And I do. Sometimes. The experience of browsing through CDs is something that piracy can never endanger. Those stores don’t exist primarily to turn a profit anyway. When my favourite band released their new, really fantastic album last year, I bought it directly from the website, and have seen them live numerous times-my money goes directly to them. On the flip side, when somebody goes to Target to buy the latest Hilary Duff CD, who pockets that money? If it’s Target, or Hilary Duff-it’s a lose-lose situation. Miley Cyrus on the other hand…

In conclusion, I have great respect for the lawyers of media conglomerates and the legal fees they are pursuing, but I would rather think of piracy in the context of Somalia, Mr. Smee, or what Mattelart was kind of getting at-that because someone like Jerry Seinfeld films Death Blow that contributes to the flow of new technologies into a remote Bolivian village. Last time I checked, Lars Ulrich and his Metallica counterparts aren’t exactly living in a cardboard box trying to peddle 25 cent Spice Girls tapes. As one of my favourite musicians, Billy Bragg, puts it, and keep in mind this quote isn’t coming from someone off a huge recording label,

In regard to proposed anti-piracy measures:

"We're concerned that, in an age where there is much greater competition for attention, these proposals are in danger of driving young people away from the idea of listening to music"

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Week 5 Imagine Media Literacy's Application in China

This week's class we have discussed the media literacy as part of combating the biased mass media products.

However, I think the forms of the application of media literacy and the results and effects of the media literacy really depends on the social and political structure and the media control level of that host nation-state. From the reading,we know that the media literacy receive well attention within the European and North American countries--these countries have something in common-democratic political system, comparatively free press, and less political control over the mainstream media outlets.
Especially for the Europe, which is famous for its public service oriented media outlets--the media literacy is getting more access to the public and having influence in policy changes and combating partisan media products.

While looking at China, I found the situation is incomparable. Most of the Chinese media outlets are government controlled and it is written in the guide book that "Media should be the voice of the government and the Chinese communist party". Not only China, other countries such as Iran, North Korea, Vietnam are also following the similar media policy.
So here comes the question: Is it possible to conduct media literacy to counter propaganda in China? If so, how and in what way?
I think it is not impossible to conduct media literacy in China.There are groups that are actively advocating for social justice and media literacy, such as the China Youth Daily, and the South China News group. These media outlets have been a pioneer in the past 2 decades while they are both loosely supervised and censored by the Central Propaganda Department of China.
Besides the current advocacy media groups, media literacy can also function within higher education system and the forms can be varied-- such as offering elective courses on media literacy or media ethics in college,opening a partnership program between a Chinese university and an American university that provides students with basic knowledge about media ethics and media literacy during a summer boot camp or a short term training program which could be counted for academic credits, or career development credits, cooperating with Chinese local non-profits groups, such as the environment China. org to instill the awareness of media literacy through educating the citizens with the environment protection knowledge.

There are many ways to conduct media literacy in China and I am confident that given some time, the citizens in China will be more active in seeking for media literacy and be more capable to think critically about media and propaganda.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Week 5: Media Literacy

In thinking about applying effective media literacy programs in the US, I had trouble envisioning how such programs would be received. Our political environment is so polarized to the extent that even defining media literacy as enabling people to 'exercise informed choices, understand the nature of content.. protect themselves and their families' (Europe's A/V Media Services Directive) could be distorted and spun to have political implications. What many accept as a logical need, other see as a subversive and undermining influence.

There was a news story that came out of Detroit last week that highlighted several school districts in the Detroit area that required students to have a permission slip before they were allowed to watch President Obama's back-to-school speech. This was undoubtedtly a result of the current state of our bipartisan politics, which is heavily influenced by the bipartisan nature of news media. It is a 'us' vs. 'them' dynamic which has spiraled way out of control and context. As we talked about in class, meeting a standard of objectivity is increasingly difficult to do. I wonder if media literacy could ever take its place in the realm of subjects for the 'common good' such as civics or social studies. Even in social studies we get distorted views on race, religion, and history-but it is commonly seen as promoting our general 'American' values. However, media, especially in the state it is currently in, seems to have much greater political implications.

As much as I would like to see media literacy programs find their place in public schools-it almost seems overly idealistic. While I understand that curriculum wouldn't include dissecting Fox news clips vs. MSNBC news clips-and would rather be more oriented toward tech-literacy and responsible use of the Internet-this approach alone would fail to fulfill the true goals of a media literacy curriculum, namely furthering an analytical and critical ability. The former seems more like what O'Neill article termed as 'digital literacy.'