Re: Congjun’s article “Toward a New World Order Media” – This article discussed how international communications is shifting over time. Comparing the change to his favorite game, bridge, the author establishes 4 principles to change the value system: fairness, all-win, inclusion and responsibility. Which one do you feel is the most important? Of the four, I think that responsibility is the most important. I think one of the biggest mass communication-related global problems is censorship. In many countries, including Iran, censorship is ubiquitous (http://cpj.org/reports/2012/05/10-most-censored-countries.php#runners-up). This prevents helpful and rich discourse from occurring, because every piece of information featured on mass media sources has been vetted for accuracy—but not just any accuracy—the accuracy that fits and meets the needs of the current regime.
Congjun concludes his article by saying this – “With diversified expression and information flow, we can mend the broken bridge of cross-cultural communication and build an information link to the future.” This sounds great in theory, but I don’t know how it would work in practice, and he doesn’t offer very many sound solutions, only abstract ones heavily rooted in idealism. How do you think we can mend the ‘broken bridge of cross-cultural communication’ in real, practical terms? I think the 4 principles he outlines are necessary to the process, but the issue is deeper than that. Unless or until the governments that propagate these unethical and unfair media practices change, the state of the global media will largely remain the same. This is why social media can be such a powerful tool, if used for the right purposes. Going back to the readings for last class: although I tend to share Gladwell’s purist idea regarding technologically inspired social activism, I also understand that for some countries, this is the only platform they have. They walk in the streets and they can’t be seen holding hands with someone they are dating for fear of being approached by the “morality police” (Iran). Alcohol is illegal (but bootleg alcohol is present at almost every party nonetheless). They can’t have a Facebook account and post their thoughts freely, even if they are dissident thoughts against the government (China). That’s just pathetic to me, but I’m also extremely lucky to have grown up in a fairly free country when compared to other nations around the world. As a result, social media can be a viable tool to help these oppressed people get their thoughts out on the page and in the blogosphere.
Re: the book chapter 6 – The content of this chapter fits nicely with Congjun’s article, because it also discusses the different purposes of the press in various countries. The table on p. 107 was particularly helpful in breaking down and understanding the way in which different countries operationalize their media system. It might have been interesting to see how “third world” countries handle their media systems too, though I think of all the categories, these countries would fit best with Mediterranean or Polarized Pluralist nations (though there are still some differences). Looking at journalism as a career that developed over time can provide insight into the comparative perspective. American “professionalism” inspired media influence and political power on the corporate level (Lord Beaverbrook, William Randolph Hearst, etc). This fits into our readings and class discussions about corporate ownership influencing content.
Re: Stuart Hall’s excerpt about encoding and decoding – He provides a theoretical approach to understanding how messages are created and disseminated. The first step, production, is meant to “construct the message” (p. 92). According to Hall, it can be influenced by a multitude of things. It “is framed throughout by meanings and ideas: knowledge-in-use concerning the routines of production, historically defined technical skills, professional ideologies, institutional knowledge, definitions and assumptions, assumptions about the audience and so on frame the constitution of the programme through this production structure” (p. 92). For me, it’s interesting to evaluate how biases may (and do) permeate newsrooms. We talked in class about how there’s no such thing as being unbiased and I believe that is true. Framing is a huge determinant for the way in which media is packaged and delivered. Though Hall’s essay focused on TV broadcast, it might be interesting to think about his message in the context of different types of media formats. How can Hall’s message be applied to interactive-based mass media technology? Such as social media or online articles? He says, “the televisual sign is a complex one. It is itself constituted by the combination of two types of discourse, visual and aural” (p. 95). Given the fact that the Internet has far more interactive capabilities than TV, it might be interesting to consider what “codes” we absorb and understand via this technology. He goes on to talk about naturalized and arbitrary codes that exist in our cultures and societies. What about learned behaviors? I think they definitely constitute codes. For example, we look favorably and almost jealously at people who possess the latest technology—like the newest model iPhone. They use it to do everything—schedule appointments, view videos, email, type Word documents, swipe credit cards, oh… and to make calls, of course. Seeing them with that coveted item means something to us—thus, admiring the newest technology holds large meaning in American culture. It goes back to the discussion we were having in class about consumerism and the required readings. For Americans, the word “iPhone” or even the Apple brand/logo represents something to us. (http://theoatmeal.com/comics/apple).
Re: Chandler’s Semiotics for Beginners – This article fit very nicely with the Hall article. “Communication (particularly mass communication) is a primary process of reality construction and maintenance whereby positions of inequality, dominance and subservience are produced and reproduced in society and at the same time made to appear ‘natural’.” I thought again of the iPhone comparison. This company has established itself without huge marketing campaigns and advertisements (mostly ads have been word of mouth or seeing others with Apple products). Yet, the brand has become such an integral part of our society. Why is that? I think it is because the brand has a great deal of power—dominance over other brands that sells similar products (phones, computers, laptops, mp3 devices, headphones, etc). Not only that, but we have constructed an entire reality around the brand and those who possess items from that brand. We view others who don’t have items from that brand as unequal and not part of the dominant hegemony. If I had to apply Jakobson’s model to this situation, I would say it is part of the conative type because we try to directly or indirectly influence the behavior of others to buy the Apple product or perhaps, without us even saying anything at all, they feel inferior and want to fit in with the status quo which inspires them to buy the product.
– How do you think we can mend the ‘broken bridge of cross-cultural communication’ (Congjun article) in real, practical terms?