All posts by sb6116a

Domestic Causes for Concern

 

Anyone that’s spent any significant amount of time reading the work of college students knows that it often leaves much to be desired. From poor content development, poor grammar skills, lack of organization to the absence of thought borne of critical thinking, college graduates very often leave school without the basic abilities required of anyone that hopes to truly “make a difference in the world.” Being unable to analyze media content thoroughly or not knowing how to express one’s well-developed arguments has broader implications than one may realize.

Being at the top of the hierarchy established by the tenets of the diffusion of innovation theory has led many people in Western society to believe that their capabilities to optimally utilize and analyze technology and its byproducts are superior to those deemed to be a part of the “undeveloped” masses. in reality, it is often the case that these people are just as inept at critically consuming mediated content as those deemed to be intellectually and societally “undeveloped.” How can the “diffusion of innovations” theory work successfully if those at the top of the hierarchy only utilize the innovations in a superficial manner? They can’t, which is another reason that it is so important to increase media literacy skills of the well-educated. (Waisbord 5)

I aim to improve the poor state of media literacy and writing ability among post-secondary school students through a partnership with the Center for Media Literacy. This partnership will result in the implementation of mandatory media literacy and writing seminars for all incoming AU undergraduates and graduates. Students must be able to be highly discerning when it comes to consuming media content while also possessing the ability to be adaptable when it comes to the writing process. Equipping students with these skills through a participatory program such as the hands-on seminar series being proposed will better allow institutions of higher education to produce truly productive members of society for a brighter tomorrow.

Related Items:

http://centerformedialiteracy.org/about-cml

http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeleef/2013/12/11/for-100k-you-would-at-least-think-that-college-grads-could-write/

http://www.wsj.com/articles/test-finds-many-students-ill-prepared-to-enter-work-force-1421432744

Altering the Governance Process

2) Instead of thinking about the governance of communication technology, let’s talk about the technology of governance. How does Livingston think the practice of governance has changed given the availability of new communication technologies and information flows?

One of the biggest implications of technology’s rapid evolution is its support in the mobilization of non-state actors and their increasing influence on the governance process. Governance is no longer solely in the hands of governments; technology has allowed NGOs and even ordinary citizens to gain a voice in this most complex area. Governance has become more dynamic, more complicated, and more contested than ever before. The speed with which our data-driven global society is growing necessitates a better understanding of the concept in order to move ahead successfully.

Technological advancements have allowed for the evolution from the arduous task of setting up enormous machines like the C-band flyaway unit that didn’t exactly send the highest quality data to being able to connect to a peer on the other side of the world within seconds and have prompted a great deal of social change by doing so. Perhaps Latham and Sassem wrote it best when they wrote that “the distinctiveness of digital formations can contribute to the rise of social relations and domains that would otherwise be absent” (Livingston 27). Among the most visible changes in technological consumption and one of the reasons for the change of governance is the increase in access to devices. In Africa, for example, “mobile penetration soared from 2 percent at the turn of the century to 28 percent by the end of 2009” (Livingston 24). This influx of technology and information has led citizens in many places to organize and speak out about important societal issues in attempts to overthrow governments. The Arab Spring changed the power dynamic in a number of nation-states (and continues to do so) and was borne largely of civil society’s ability to communicate quickly and easily through newer technology. NGOs play a large part in increasing the prevalence of mobile technology in places like Africa, thereby allowing them to amass influence in the governance sphere. According to Livingston, they “’seed’ mobile systems to gain the social, economic and political benefits accrued to publics by the formation of networks” (24). Perhaps one of the most telling signs that the role of NGOs as non-state actors is becoming more and more important can be found in their role in exposing the Iranian nuclear program. That such a globally significant find was made by an entity other than a government shows how non-state actors are becoming increasingly involved in global affairs.

It should also be noted that while the use of technology has had a remarkable impact on the governance process by promoting global communication and introducing new ideas into society, it also allows communities to reinforce the nuances that define what it means to be a part of their particular group. While western consumers utilize technology as a means of keeping in touch with family (as the dispersion of family members is not uncommon in these areas), people living in Congo utilize technology less as a means of maintaining familial relations and as more of a tool to accomplish other, more administrative or bureaucratic needs (banking, violence-reporting systems, etc.) (Livingston 28).

 

Livingston, Steven. “The CNN Effect Reconsidered (again): Problematizing ICT and Global Governance in the CNN Effect Research Agenda.” Media, War & Conflict 4.1 (2011): 20-36. Web.

Disagreements in Governance

Powers and Jablonski are clearly concerned about the Information Industrial Complex and its effects on the governance of the Internet. What do you think is the biggest critical concern, given their coverage of government involvement, economic implications, and their assessment of multistakeholder governance?

When it comes to the Information Industrial Complex and its effects on internet governance, the biggest concern seems to be the lack of an alternative system. The U.S. argues that a multistakeholder governance structure is best even when it seems likely that “continued industry-government codependence…[will lead to] weakened oversight, accountability, and industry vitality and competitiveness” (Powers and Jablonski 73).

Alternatively, relegating the responsibility of internet governance to a centralized governmental body that doesn’t fund technologic ventures seems to pose similar economic threats. Wouldn’t the separation of the IT sector and its government funding pose a bit of a problem when it comes to its forward momentum? Very much so, according to Netscape founder Marc Andressen. ” “If it had been left to private industry, it wouldn’t have happened,” he said regarding the creation of his Mosaic Web browser (Powers and Jablonski 57).

The problem here is multifaceted, it seems. The present system of western-based internet governance supported by multistakeholderism apparently isn’t sustainable, while the proposed solution of a 1-member 1-vote system raises concerns over the balance of power and internet governance. To be frank, the West’s opposition to the latter idea appears to be a power play rooted in fear of the perceived threats to the lucrative Information Industrial Complex that come along with giving away the ability to continue imposing its governance standards to entities with different ideas of what and how things should be done.

Powers, Shawn M., and Michael Jablonski. The Real Cyber War: The Political Economy of Internet Freedom. Chicago: U of Illinois, 2015. Print.

Purveyors of Intellectual Growth? Hardly.

Do international news broadcasters contribute to a more enlightened global public, or do they reinforce local perspectives?

In order to determine whether global news broadcasters reinforce local perspectives or enlighten their audiences about the world at large, it is necessary to determine the context surrounding the use of the word local. The inclusion of the term “international” in defining the type of newscaster makes it seem likely that “local” refers to the nation-state in which the news outlet originates. Furthermore, Simon Cottle and Mughda Rai focus on news organizations that have a domestic base in addition to their international structures. Working with this assumption in mind, and focusing on US news organizations with an increasingly globalized presence, I find that entities within those particular parameters focus less on serving as bastions of knowledge and concern themselves more with catering to the whims of their core audiences. That isn’t to say that their is no mention whatsoever of global news and diverse cultures, but that what is offered is often superficial at best and not intended to foster an acceptance of difference.

It has been said that mediated news content within a society is “democratically consequential” (Cottle and Rai 158). This is certainly true, and could perhaps be part of the reason that domestic broadcasts focus on international content in a superficial way. For example, news stories on FOX News about countries other than the US generally take the form of what Cottle and Rai call the “reporting frame,” and never move beyond that to provide meaningful and impactful accounts from the people affected in whatever situation is being covered (171). This avoidance of the “reportage” communicative frame disallows for the presentation of in-depth coverage of an Other and does not promote the growth of a more enlightened global audience (Cottle and Rai 158). Likewise, a platform like CNNI might appear to be an improvement on the typically chauvinistic delivery of domestic news by globalized conglomerates, but even it does not overwhelmingly change the dominant thematic presentation styles employed by CNN and FOX (or MSNBC, for that matter). CNNI outlets around the globe largely cater their content to localized (in terms of national borders, at least) interests. It could be reasonably argued that CNNI coverage is inherently biased in favor of the U.S. because of its American origin.

Though admirable, platforms like CNNI’s World Report may give journalists from all over the world the opportunity to contribute content reflective of their various locations, but these stories are not likely to be featured on the network’s main stage. Aside from being used as fodder for fuel in never-ending discussions of the risk to American national security, “global” newscasts hardly serve much purpose in regards to expanding audience intellectual boundaries.

Cottle, Simon, and Mughda Rai. “Global 24/7 News Providers: Emissaries of Global Dominance or Global Public Sphere?” Global Media and Communication 4.2 (2008): 157-81.

An Identity About-Face

It has been argued that the nation state was borne of the desire to give a sense of identity to a region and the people within it. This then evolved to include the ideals of said people, and a collective mythology that further helps define what makes that nation state what and who it is. Perhaps if all of humanity were able to coexist in perfect harmony with no thoughts of aggression or competition then the need for identity through the nation state might not be necessary, but it is..because it doesn’t. In today’s world, despite the supposed dissolution of borders that has occurred as a result of globalization, the national identity of a state has become more important than ever. Opening communication channels throughout the world has forced many nation-states to confront the identities that they so long trumpeted to others, often with unexpected results.

Nation-states exist to provide structure, functionality, cohesion, and regulation to the people and places of a world that is undeniably complex through the implementation of strategically crafted identities that differentiate them from others. The identity that a nation-state possesses (as a result of its own efforts to define or those of others) becomes dramatically more important in a globalized society that allows people from all walks of life to communicate with relative ease. In contemporary society, for example, the United States has long been heralded by its leaders and citizens as an extremely powerful world power. With countries (and their inhabitants) having the ability to relay messages to places that may otherwise be inaccessible, nation-states are more likely to be be called upon in the global theater to be proactive in situations outside of their own borders.

Members of nation-states can, and do, catch wind of outside crises through the globalized media landscape and try to rally their government to action. The Vietnam War, for example, became a mainstay of discussion and source of anger in American society after shocking coverage of the conflict was broadcast to domestic audiences. This resulted, as many people know, in widespread protests and calls for the government to be held accountable for its role in sending men to their deaths in a deeply-opposed war. Similarly, the current crises in Syria and across the Middle East have spurred discussion about what responsibility the US has to intervene owing to its reputation as a dominant world power. Media coverage from the front has become so predominant that today’s public perception of America’s inaction in Syria has evolved into an integral topic in political rhetoric. This arguably would not be the case in an insulated nation untouched by globalization.

The Trouble with Mediated Nationalism

If nationalism is sustained by media in some way, does this suggest implications for foreign policy and national security?

For the purposes of this post, I’ll focus my thoughts on those that are considered a part of the American nation.

If the above presumption is true, then there are absolutely implications for foreign policy and national security. Western consumers are more able to engage in media now than at any other time in history, and they take advantage of that reality; often to reaffirm and exercise their assumed rights as members of a nation that highly values things like justice and freedom of all sorts. This, however, can (and has) cause conflict that is far-reaching and problematic when it comes to maintaining diplomatic relationships with other nations and ensuring secure conditions for global ambassadors and other such representatives. A poignant example of the implications of media’s role in sustaining nationalism involves depictions of the Prophet Muhammad.

As many people know, to create visual depictions of Islam’s most revered figure is generally discouraged. Knowing this, many western media participants take it upon themselves to do just that in the name of exercising their “freedom of speech.” Hate speech-loving Pamela Geller sponsors “Draw the Prophet” contests and publishes anti-Islam books (another medium used to perpetuate nationhood) while countless social media users share and like inflammatory graphics and “facts” about other countries all in the name of exercising a national right of expression. Geller’s event, not surprisingly, has been targeted by assailants. By using the media to proclaim an allegiance to the ideals of a particular nation, these people severely jeopardize domestic stability and global cooperation in a variety of contexts. Presumably, foreign service security protocol has to be amended in the face of domestic scandal that serves only to ostracize other nations.

Internet Technology Governance and its Theoretical Parallels

Much of the challenge of defining and successfully implementing internet technology governance is borne of the desires of sovereign entities to possess control of the technologies and their accompanying industries within their borders. The predominance of western control on these things is a key factor in the diplomatic and regulatory issues that exist in the communication world today.

As Powers and Jablonski repeatedly make clear in their book “The Real Cyber War,” communication technology, regulation, and infrastructure are based almost entirely in the Western world. Western powers took advantage of their capitalistic prowess in the onset of the global communication age and asserted their dominance through the pseudo-benevolent creation of communication capabilities in less-developed nations. Contemporary issues regarding the implications of these Western-sponsored infrastructures very often take the form of dependent nations attempting to confront the disproportionate amount of power and influence that foreign countries have over their affairs. Though there were declarations that lauded the motivation of these acts as being the result of efforts to create international cooperation and harmony, it is arguable that other influences were at play. In any case, the rhetoric associated with global communication development strongly resembles the language used to define modernization theory.

Modernization theory states that “international mass communication could be used to spread the message of modernity and transfer the economic and political models of the West to the newly independent countries of the South.” The idea that providing developing countries with the ability to engage in global communication would be an impetus for societal modernization sounds very similar, in my opinion, to the discourse that surrounded early globalization efforts by the U.S. and Britain (Thussu 42-44). President Woodrow Wilson’s vision of international communication, for example, declared that spread of “American ideals” were the key to universal progress (Powers and Jablonski 37). Modernization theory similarly contends that the catalyst which will promote global evolution lies in the spread of Western practices…

The theory of bettering another country by instituting economic and political standards of an entirely different place is strongly present in contemporary society, and modernization theory strongly reflects that. Whether or not this method of handling matters related to internet governance is successful remains to be seen, but I wouldn’t bet on it.

Underlying Tensions of U.S. Information Policy

One of the most glaring underscoring tensions of U.S. information policy is the apparent contradiction between the altruistic terms by which it is defined in popular discourse and the self-interest that marks its practice and implementation around the world. U.S. information policy can arguably be considered to be very one-sided, despite “persistent discourse suggesting unfettered access to information promotes democracy and global peace” (Power and Jablonski 32). For example, most regulatory communication agencies, organizations, and committees are based in the U.S., endeavor primarily to serve this country’s economic interests, and disregard input from the nations that they operate in and claim to serve (Powers and Jablonski 40,45). Another tension arises from the privatization of control within the global communication structure (Powers and Jablonski 41). To outsource such power to the private sector arguably absolves the government of a certain amount of responsibility while simultaneously depriving developing nations of any means of recourse in the event of mishaps.

To operate under the guise of policies existing for the common good of all, as Secretary of State Hamilton Fish insisted was the case, while establishing international industries whose profits were siphoned directly into U.S. coffers is sure to cause (and has, in fact) much discord between nations (Powers and Jablonski 39). Ongoing efforts to reestablish existing regulatory structures in the world of information dissemination is indicative of the ongoing issues brought on by this incongruence of ideology and practice. At least one U.S. president involved in the formation of information policy supported the inclusion of altruism as a core value; President Woodrow Wilson was ultimately unsuccessful in his efforts to create globally diplomatic communication regulations.