Blog Essay Class 8

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.

 

DQ:

– How do you think we can mend the ‘broken bridge of cross-cultural communication’ (Congjun article) in real, practical terms?

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4 thoughts on “Blog Essay Class 8

  1. jcrinkley

    I agree with you that responsibility is incredibly important for cross-cultural communication. I don’t believe that we will ever overcome our societal differences if we aren’t all exposed to media that is trying to improve society by providing accurate portrayals of neighboring and distant societies. However, I struggle with any outsider’s ability to affect the media within a country. If any organization, no matter how internationally operated it was, were to tell the Iranian Government how to disseminate its media, then that organization would receive major backlash from Iran and its allies. I think that before we can start to try to modify media practices within countries, we must first ensure that a more diverse, international discourse is taking place. This can be accomplished by enabling more media organizations from any country to contribute to an international collective of media messages. Li asserts that, “comprehensive, objective, fair, balanced and accurate coverage [could] minimize discrimination and prejudice.”

    Increased fairness would be a start to mending “the broken bridge of cross-cultural communication,” but I think the leadership of many of the most powerful nations are stuck in a mode of competition where they are all engaging in a power struggle both socially and economically. From the American perspective, we want the world to believe that capitalism and democracy are the best systems. Thus, we produce and disseminate media that sticks to these narratives while also trying to pick apart the narratives being created by other powerful countries. I think if we are going to move forward in any kind of meaningful way in the realms of communication, science, economics, etc., then we need to cooperate with one another and leave our competitive nature in the past. At this juncture, this kind of idealistic vision seems implausible, so maybe it doesn’t fit your qualifier of “practical terms.” However, at some point things are going to get bad enough for enough people that governments will have no choice, but to work together to fix the myriad problems that we as a species are facing. That point is probably a very long way off, and it is doubtful that it is within ours or our children’s lifetimes.

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  2. flyfluency

    Chang Liu
    flyfluency@ufl,edu
    I agree with you that Conjun only proposed some ideal suggestions toward a more civilized International media sphere. It’s another story when it comes to implementation. The media regulation systems rely to a large extent upon the different countries’ politics. The uneven status of media information flow might be due largely to the uneven distribution of media sources. This is probably resulted from both political and economic conditions of the countries, which is difficult to solve only by changing the rules.
    To answer your question, I feel that in the first place, it’s hard to define between cross-cultural and cross-political communication. In other words, the diversified information flow can be based on various culture and politic environment. Even domestic news reports are somewhat biased, censored and filtered by the check and balance from different interest groups, and the situation becomes more complex when things are done on the global platform. How to create a bridge that helps the freedom of new reports and information flow on a cross-country platform is still a conundrum which needs discussion. While we have the possibilities to let the voices of more diverse groups heard. In practical, more economical groups or conglomerates from other industries and different countries should enter this playfield to leverage the enormous power of the existing media giants. With more competition, and more diversified media power, the market will become lively again. Culturally diversified media conglomerates will eventually bring about a new dynamic of the global media. The second strategy might be the struggle for media freedom. What I mean by “media freedom” is the relative independence of media from the government. Trying to build a new relation between the government and the media industry in some “not free” countries is one of the fundamental approaches that lead to revolution to the International media dynamic.

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  3. nickik1989 Post author

    I find myself using the negotiated decoding process most often when I read. I have a tendency to try to view things from all angles and not jump to conclusions too quickly. However, that doesn’t mean I can’t bring in my own personal experiences to a reading. I always think about how this issue or what I am reading applies to my life and me right now (or how it has in the past, for example). Most of the reading I do is for school, but whenever I peruse some blogs I follow, I still mainly read with this process in mind. Questions I ask myself include: What’s this author’s point? What could be their external motivations for making this point/writing this article? Do they provide any good tips for me? How has their stance changed my mind?

    I think that when we consume media that we know is oppositional by nature, we adopt that ‘counter-hegemonic’ stance. For example, when I am reading Drudge Report I will behave and think differently (more critically, perhaps) than when I am reading a BBC article. It’s natural and although we like to pretend as journalists that we don’t have biases, it’s simply not true (and we’ve talked about this in class too). Just like someone who regularly watches and believes the content of Fox News will automatically be skeptical of something like CNN. That’s fine – I think inspiring a healthy debate and discourse is better than the alternative, which is nothing at all. As for your question of which process do I enjoy the most? I would have to say negotiated. Counter-hegemonic is definitely more interesting because it’s easy to be critical and examine things from one of those lenses—whether it is feminist, post-structuralist, post-colonial, etc. It’s easy to point out how you could be the “Other”.

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