Tallk's Blog: A discussion of IC

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Ahead of My Time November 18, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Taria @ 6:43 pm

I am ahead of my time…by exactly one week. Last week I posted a comment on Public Diplomacy before reading any of the articles for this week ahead of time and this is what I said [cut down a little bit]:

I have done some traveling and you know what’s the best way to change someone’s image of the U.S.? For them to actually meet someone from the U.S., someone who isn’t in a television screen drinking coffee at their local cafe on a couch with five of their closest friends or a man behind a podium with a big white house on it making a public speech. 9 times out of 10 these are the images people had in their heads of Americans being just like stock sitcom people or completely agreeing with a man at a press conference espousing views of his America that don’t necessarily convey the views of the nation as a whole. …Once people got to know us as individual people, as sisters, nieces, cousins etc they knew that we were absolutely no different from them in the fundamentally human ways that matter…

This was the gist of what I said as well as the U.S. should have more individual level interaction with foreign publics and I personally volunteered to go around the world on the U.S.’s dime to do them this favor- you’re welcome. Then lo and behold this week the readings were about Public Diplomacy and the different ways most countries these days are performing Public Diplomacy especially using the internet and Web 2.0 diplomacy and interaction from the actual public in Public Diplomacy and not just top down diplomacy. I do believe that the Internet is the way that Public Diplomacy is headed: its widely accessible and its cheap, however, I don’t think we should ever forget the value of the micro level interactions in Public Diplomacy. In the article by Joseph Nye “Public Diplomacy and Soft Power,” Nye talks about the power in individual interaction through exchange programs, scholarships and conferences. While this takes more time, and is more expensive and may have what seems like a limited effect because of the seemingly minimal impact it has- I believe it has the most lasting and powerful impact. I will use my own life as an example. Before I lived in Switzerland I had a lot of presuppositions about certain European people- all from movies and television so completely wrong. For one thing I thought that all German people were scary evil people (thanks Schindler’s List), but now one of my best friends is a girl I met in Switzerland from Munich. I even came back to the states and studied German for a little while. From her perspective she had never had a black friend from any country. It was a new experience and an eye opener for both of us.

In class we also talked about Tony Blair’s support for the Bush administration and how people attributed this to his time spent abroad, I think this is an excellent example of how individual experiences last a lifetime and may even have a broader impact on the world someday. This is why I think an emphasis on human connections in Public Diplomacy cannot be swept aside even as we implement new web based programs and should always be a major part of the United States or any other country’s PD effort.

 

Global News Networks and Structural Violence November 12, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurawry @ 11:58 pm

In, On Suffering and Structural Violence: A View from Below, Paul Farmer describes structural violence as an intrinsic denial of people’s fundamental humanity through the structures of everyday life and social constructs that are continually reproduced.

 

Media play a central role in creating and affirming belief systems, central narratives, and worldviews by setting the agenda, and this includes what is and what is not discussed globally.   Farmer mentions that silence is a central culprit in enforcing existing structures (or, literally, lack thereof in terms of underdevelopment).

 

Powers and El-Nawawy discuss the impact of media globalization in terms of their impact on fostering or hindering cross-cultural understanding and reconciliation, especially in the context of war journalism.  They mention that, “Hafez attributes this failure of media globalization to the fact that ‘the media follow rather than lead’ (p.54).  That is, rather than challenging people’s perspective or providing competing worldviews, the news media typically work toward the ‘affirmation and legitimization of national politics’ (p.54).” (265)

 

They elaborate on the way in which people turn to particular news media that cater to their worldview.  Essentially, people turn to voices that continue to affirm their core narratives rather than challenging or contextualizing them within a broad scope of perspectives.

 

In this way, the media facilitate Farmer’s structural violence by acting as mediators between structures and reflecting the status quo, or as Powers and El-Nawawy describe, “stories…that are ideologically in line with their [publics] worldviews” (266) when engaging in “war journalism.”  It falls to individual agency from both Farmer’s perspective and Powers and El-Nawawy  to engage as a global citizen.

 

 

I’ve Betrayed You Anderson…

Filed under: Uncategorized — Taria @ 11:28 pm

Does the media frame the way we think about stories or do we have certain presuppositions that inform the media of how to frame stories in ways that are already aligned with our preconceived notions? I kept thinking about this question this week as I was reading about global news and the way it is conveyed to the public. The whole idea of media framing seems like a cyclical process. The news outlets frame stories in a particular way that, according to Powers and el-Nawawy in their article “AL-Jazeera English and global news networks,” affirms rather than informs. This means that the stories that are conveyed to viewers is framed from a point of view that the viewers have already established as their outlook and stance on the world. But where do these preconceived notions come from anyway? As we have discussed in class media has a substantial part in shaping cultures and identities within certain groups of people. This seems like the chicken and egg conundrum. However, most of the theorist today seem to think that the media is the follower and not the leader, and that in order to change the way that people view the world and the news, especially regarding global issues, that the news media need to become leaders and start changing the way that the news is presented and then later people may start to see the world in a new way. Powers and el-Nawawy used Al-Jazeera English as an example of a media outlet that is changing the way that the news is presented. Al-Jazeera’s slogan is giving a voice to the voice-less, which in itself changes the way that most media outlets present their news which Hafez says almost always favors a Western point of view.

 

Well, I had never been to Al-Jazeera English and I wanted to see if it really had a different point of view than a Western news outlet so I went to their website and also to CNN.com international to see if I could see a difference straight away between the two. The first thing I saw on Al-Jazeera was a quote in the upper right hand corner from a philosopher named Slavoj Zizek about how capitalism is leading the world into an apocalyptic doomsday… not what I was expecting from the apparent objective voice of the world today, but ok. On their homepage was a story about Haiti and how they were seeking UN relief for a cholera epidemic that has broken out in the country. I then went to CNN.com and they also had a story about the cholera outbreak in Haiti so I clicked on that was well. I decided that this story might be a little freer of Eastern/Western slant or criticism seeing as Haiti is not usually a country that is an antagonist on either side of that debate. I started with the Al-Jazeera story so that I wouldn’t taint it anymore than necessary with my western point of view.

 

This was the first I had heard of the story and Al-Jazeera gave a very in depth look at the problem of cholera in Haiti. They had a correspondent on the scene that had talked to officials from Doctors without Borders and staff from a UN office who was in charge of trying to find some funds needed to help with the epidemic. Since the earthquake in Haiti there had also been a hurricane that killed tens of people as of Al-Jazeera’s latest report. The story also talked about the anger of the people because of outbreak and also because of sanitation issues especially in the slum of cite soleil. Then I went to CNN.com to look at the story that they had published. The information that both cites had published was consistent with one another, but the Al-Jazeera story had more information and more about the people of the country and their outrage at the epidemic. I could not locate if the CNN.com story was just an update on an earlier reported story but the tone was definitely more of a recap of events than a story like the one on the Al-Jazeera site. I was honestly moved by the Al-Jazeera story and the detail of all that was happening in Haiti on top of the previous devastation. Another interesting fact is that the Al-Jazeera story started with the fact that the UN called for $164 million in aid, whereas it was mentioned halfway through the story in the CNN.com article. The point of the Al-Jazeera article was that aid was needed and the rest of the story tried to compel action with stories of events in the city. The CNN.com story started with the events of the epidemic and the mention of the aid money just seemed like another event to take in and not act upon.

 

I am not saying that Al-Jazeera English will be my new home page (I just changed it to CNN from google to make myself look more “cosmopolitan”…and I finally took the two minutes to figure out how to do it on my computer), but I think that this is an eye opener that I need to take charge of my media intake. Its fine to urge the news outlets to change their output, but the fact of the matter is that they have other interests to consider in the way they disseminate news. I think we should all challenge ourselves to be more discerning when it comes to what we ingest and what we believe. Its up to each person to decide what news they what to receive, and in today’s world it is as simple as the click of a button. Then we will see if the media is a reflection of our norms or vice versa, because we should see a change in the way that our news outlets inform us. So let the change begin—internally.

 

The Truth Hurts

Filed under: Posts by Ashley,Uncategorized — zabc21 @ 4:37 pm

In 1963 in a testimony before a Congressional Committee, Edward R. Murrow, who was the Director of USIA, stated: “American traditions and the American ethic require us to be truthful, but the most important reason is that truth is the best propaganda and lies are the worst. To be persuasive we must be believable; to be believable we must be credible; to be credible we must be truthful. It is as simple as that.”

Public diplomacy has often been under debate. Typically, with America being the world superpower,  American officials have not seen the need for public diplomacy. It was widely used during the Cold War in an attempt to counter balance the Soviet Union and their diplomacy efforts. After that, it was drastically reduced, and the opinion of America became bad through most parts of the world (aka 9-11 happened).  At this point, America realized the value of public diplomacy and reinvested money.

This is where it gets interesting, think back to the Murrow statement. America needs to be truthful to gain a good public image abroad. The Iraq war started, and its intentions were completely unrelated to why the media and government officials said we were going to war. This created huge amounts of dislike for America, from countries that typically do agree with us, let alone the ones that already don’t like us! The best part of this all, is that the American public diplomacy acts were unveiled to be not credible or truthful stories. Leaked classified documents admitted the U.S government were planning on planting news items in foreign news, falsifying the foreign news, and sending journalists pro-U.S. news stories. This department was quickly closed, however similar stories were leaked a few years later of the military doing similar acts.

This undermines the entire point of being truthful that Murrow makes!  In order to eventually gain a more positive public America is going to have to be much more truthful. With as much transparency that there is now, and with the huge possibility of things like wikileaks occurring, it’s time to step up the game, and be the honest truthful international player.

 

The Power of Kronkite

Filed under: Posts by Kristin,Uncategorized — Kristin R @ 12:28 pm

After reading the Hafez and Powers/el Nawawy texts, I’m really interested in the possibility of someone taking over Kronkite’s long vacant throne as the most powerful man in news. It’s clear enough to say that the circumstances behind Kronkite’s center of power will never be duplicated – being on one of only a few networks, being in an era without the internet, being in an era of trouble and an era where some families only had one television with one channel.

Is it possible then that our analysis of the [unlikelihood] of the next Kronkite is not accounting for all of these factors? Could we actually have a successor if we compensate for these factors?

First and foremost, data for most watched networks isn’t necessarily adequate because many of these networks have non-news programs which bring in audiences – see House, MD on Fox (which, if it didn’t exist, would keep me from ever turning on the channel). Once you use data from just news programs, again you’re facing some issues in number crunching – first and foremost, the most common methods for measuring ratings are somewhat inaccurate or unrepresentative to begin with. They don’t account for those who, like me, can put on a station and walk away to make dinner for a period of time and never actually watch the station (and other comparable examples). Similarly, how do you compare viewership of news between channels who have different time blocks (say CNN which is 24 hours versus Fox, which offers other programming)? Can you really match those numbers?

In order to determine who the next Walter Kronkite is, you’d have to account for all of these statistical issues and THEN determine if any of the existing news casters are actually trustworthy. After all, Kronkite’s claim to fame is predominantly based on the credibility he possesses. But I think it’s fair to say that in the US, few people have a credibility that extends past their polarized base. Even Jon Stewart, with his overwhelming popularity, has a base which does orient one way and has very few members of the “opposite” side.

But I can’t help but identify Al Jazeera as a potential candidate for hosting the next Walter Kronkite (at least for it’s region). Will the next Walter Kronkite be America’s, or will it be someone elses’? Remember that Kronkite’s following wasn’t anywhere else but here. So perhaps the next Kronkite will be an announcer for Al Jazeera – and once you see their viewership numbers, it’s easy to see the possibilities.

So will Ahmed Mansour be the most trusted man in the Middle East? Oddly enough, his colleague Faisal al-Qassem is probably already working on the title without even trying.

 

Mobile Technology’s Ability to Organize November 6, 2010

Filed under: Uncategorized — Taria @ 7:34 pm

Castell’s article, “The Mobile Civil Society,” talks about the power in grassroots movements starting from people looking for change and using mediums such as the internet and mobile telephones in order to disseminate their views and organize in order to induce a change that they see as necessary. Castells gives three examples of social movements inspiring major political change in the Philippines, South Korea and Spain. He also talks about how these same mediums have been used by governments in order try and inspire more public support for the government and or parties in power. In all of the examples, elites and the government owned traditional media outlets such as newspaper and television, which was part of the reason that people felt as though they needed a new way of communicating their views and being heard. The one to many communication models have been replaced with the one to one communication as a preferred method of interaction, which is very powerful for a variety of reasons. For one, the cellular one to one communication is a lot more personal. Castells says that the fact that you know whom it is that you are receiving the information from on a personal level, at least enough to give your phone number to them, adds legitimacy to the source of information.

 

Castells also questions why this hasn’t happened in United States yet. I think this is a very interesting question. There was a wide use of mobile phones during the Obama campaign, which many say did help him win the youth vote. Castells says that the use of cell phones to organize demonstrations and rally people is one mainly used by young people. Many say that we (i.e. people born in the 80s) are an apathetic generation so that could have something to do with it. I kept thinking to myself what would I do if this happened to me? If I got a text message to go to the National Mall at 11 p.m. on a Thursday to protest something would I go? Well, it would depend on a lot of factors. What is the demonstration for? There really aren’t a lot of things I would risk being tear gassed for. I went to the rally to restore sanity, but that was at a reasonable time of the day and it wasn’t for anything to controversial- it was more of a social phenomenon than a political one. Also it wasn’t “by the people” but more like two rich funny men telling us all what to do using traditional communication via television. But then I remembered how I heard about it. My best friend in the entire world sent me an email with a link saying “GO TO THIS RALLY!” And everyone in my social network including classmates, co-workers (granted I work with classmates so this overlaps), housemates and neighbors were eager to go to this as well. Facebook was a buzz with all of the people I knew joining the group for the event and I even forced a friend who didn’t care that much to go. Friends from out of town were texting me about the details and I was texting friends in DC for more information as well. So I think what I am getting at is that unless there is something I absolutely cannot abide by happening in the government (aka the President is corrupt such as in the Philippines) I am content to not stir the pot or leave the comfort of my home to rally at the National Mall… because its kind of a trek from my house to be honest. But even when something as “mild” as the rally to restore sanity happens I look to my social network to legitimate my actions before I do them. So while something big using the internet and mobile technology hasn’t occurred in the U.S. (minus the Republican convention that Castells mentions in his article), there is definitely a possibility of something like that occurring starting within small networks of people and expanding into the political realm of organized action, so I wouldn’t count us out.

 

Civic Space for Collective Action

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurawry @ 7:04 pm

Movements for social justice globally seems to be increasing due to the emergence of ICTs particularly within the context of the transition to a more networked society.  Despite Jeffrey S. Juri’s observation that the facilitation that global networked systems have applied to collective citizen activism, interpersonal connection and collective public space still seem to be the authentic galvanizing and activating factors.

In Citizens’ Communication and the 2009 G8 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, Cinzia Padovani writes that, “Even in an era of computer-mediated social networks, a shared identity, personal relationships, spatial proximity, and mutual trust still represent “important facilitators of collective action” (Diani, 2004, p. 352). The power of each of those connectors to spur social and communication actions was palpable in L’Aquila, where the residents-turned-activists were moved by a thirst for re-establishing personal ties and recreating lost public spaces.”

As many of the comments made in our class discussion illustrate, a major motivator behind activism is forming social solidarity through collective action.  Many people choose to take on a cause aimed at eradicating a problem or contributing to a broad effort addressing a larger issue to connect with others who share a similar idealism and perspective.  Not to say that this is the primary motivator, but is significant, particularly when examining commitment and longevity.  A detached contribution is not on par with community led projects or a similar type of collective action within the context of public space.