Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Global and New Media

by Kevin O'Connell, Derrick Chang, and Daniel Rubin

Screened Out
Jean Baudrillard writes mainly about globalization versus universality. The term globalization refers to the globalization of technologies, the market, tourism, and information. Universality refers to the universality of values, human rights, freedoms, cultures, and democracy. Baudrillard suggests that the two concepts have an inverse relationship, meaning that as globalization increases universality decreases. He also argues that Western Culture is unique in that it regards its system of values superior and something desirable to all other cultures. Every culture that subscribes to these western morals loses its singularity, meaning that it loses its culture because they are abandoning their values for those forced upon them. The problem Baudrillard sees with this expansion of universality is that it does not expand at the highest common denominator, but rather the lowest. So countries that adopt Western values end up with the worst, most corrupt forms of democracy.

This process begins with the globalization of trades because it causes the interaction of different cultures for economic reasons. Baudrillard argues that eventually democracy and human rights circulate like any other global product, and become globalized the same was the production of a computer becomes globalized. Japan is the one country that has achieved economic success, but has done so without losing its singularity. This means that Japan is still Japan, while France and England have become Americanized. This same train of logic also explains why Islam is now “Public Enemy Number One”. They have resisted the transition to Western morals the most, so their morals contrast the most with ours. Baudrillard warns that it seems as if globalization is winning and homogenizing all of our values and creating one ‘unculture’. Fortunately though, matters are not settled. It is not certain that globalization will ‘win’. He ends his essay by arguing that we can see heterogeneous forces springing up all over, and forces that are willing to fight. However, he does not state which forces these are.

New Media, New Europe: Estonia’s E-Mediated State
The author, Alec Charles presents in this article, a somewhat argumentative essay that more or less questions the current and future use of the domination of media in Estonia, one of the world’s most media embracing nations. He begins by presenting many arguments in quotes against the use of an E-democracy, or an electronically dominated society, including points which question its accuracy in including the society’s voice as a whole and its' exclusiveness to wealthier people. The essay then goes on to introduce the nation of Estonia as well as historical aspects that preceded to its’ currently prospering electronic lifestyle. The laissez-faire economic policies adopted by governments since Estonia’s independence have allowed for the development of industrial, geographical and social sectors, bringing wealth. They were also the first to adopt online banking as well as public wifi installation after the introduction of the Tiger leap Initiative which was meant to solidify Estonia’s place as a competitive E-State in the EU.

However, Charles only regards the Estonian political system as a great thing just so he can counter those points with criticisms. He introduces E-government which was used to stimulate even more the use of electronics and media in society. The TOM program allowed for the suggestion of legislative laws by the citizens to the government, in hopes the voice of the people could be heard better, on a wider, larger scale. But, in the following paragraph, Charles proves with statistical evidence that the voting system and election process as a result of the biased votes taken by a populous with more money and accessibility to media, is heard more, especially through[and because of] internet. He goes on to say that e-voting never “resulted as a result of popular demand, but of middle class domination [due to accessibility].” He essentially says if there is “no advantage” to E-Voting, then why is there so much discussion around it? However, he still gives credit when due to the positives brought about because of the style of electronic culture which surrounds Estonia, and recognizes that it does provide additional opportunity for many to vote, only within an exclusive, money possessing specific group of people.

In chapter 8, Hallin and Mancini discuss the convergence, or homogenization of media systems toward the Liberal Model, citing that strong political ties no longer distinguished the Democratic Corporatist and Polarized Pluralist models. The forces that cause this transformation can be separated into internal and external forces. The external forces include “Americanization” and technological advancement. “Americanization” is simply the influence or cultural imperialism of the United States on media systems and journalism. This influence was strongest following the end of World War II and through the 1960’s. Included in these influences was a more formal training in journalism, the practice of interviewing, and a shift towards free press due to the lack of free press during WWII under fascist regimes. Technological advancements were an outside influence because the development of new technologies caused people to change behavior to adapt to the new technology, thus causing a common culture of technological practice across different social contexts. Journalism experienced a shift, because with the new technology, it now mattered less what a journalist had to say, but it mattered more how the information was presented.
The internal forces causing homogenization of media systems are secularization and commercialization. Secularization is the decline in strength of political, religious and social order institutions, leading towards a more individualized and fragmented society. Commercialization was driven by highly-capitalized advertising funded commercial papers which came as a result of businesses with the capital to invest in advertising. Small newspapers were driven out of the market, making room for big business looking to make a profit. European media systems, as a result, shifted away from the political world and towards more towards commerce. The never commercial media wanted to appeal to the ordinary citizen, and therefore often used an “ordinary citizen” point of view.
Hallin and Mancini conclude the chapter with a discussion of modernization, which rewinds to Chapter 4 and the discussion of differentiation theory, which questions the limits of the forces causing the homogenization of media systems.

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