O. Prelude: This is of Your Interest
Thank you everyone who answered the Quiz on your interests! These themes are of the most interest to you:
- Media Policy (I would call this the macro, societal level)
- Strategic Communication (I would call this the meso, organizational, level — social media governance plans of companies, and the like).
- The United Nations (I would call this the macro level as well. Many Internet Governance issues are discussed under the UN-facilitated mechanisms such as the Internet Governance Forum.
Here are some issues that you find pressing (and trust me, we will discuss them):
How we can regulate the use of social media in regard to politics.Social Media, because it generates and disseminates information…sometimes even without fact checkingBuilding relationship with others, in terms of the relationship between media governors and audience, and stakeholders.Regulating/penalizing the creation and distribution of “fake news.”Cyber Security and Media Responsibility. What a great time to take this course, with current events pertaining to these issues unraveling before our eyes.
No governance needed.
The wishes from this course range from I just need to graduate (OK, you know what to do! Minimum is only the MT (70% correct) and the final and 7 weekly assignments…) to I wish to pass this course with an “A” to retain my 4.0 GPA (OK, you know what to do! For an A the MT, the Final and 11 weekly assignments). You also wish for weekly reminder emails, and that you will get.
You, and others: I hope this course will give you an overview of regulation as governance; governance in organizations (self-regulation, e.g., a company’s social media plan); and self-governance by individuals (what to post, for example, online; what security measures to take, and so on).
The next step is to look at governance, the power, form a cultural perspective.
1. Not only Legal or Regulatory: The Socio-Cultural Dimensions of Governance
Media policies and surrounding politics, policy-making, and regulation often get examined via empirical analyses by political scientists, media economists, and legal scholars. But politics, policy- and law-making are not separate from cultural values and contexts. In addition, governance is also always about power. Many scholars and other thinkers are looking at the power dynamics between different interest groups of mediated/communication and power from a cultural perspective. Here are some broader frameworks/perspectives:
Context #1: Cultural Flows
The core idea of cultural flows is founded on theorization around globalization. It’s partly economic (how media products = ideas travel around the world) but also how cultures change because of that (the key thinker, Arjun Appadurai, is an anthropologist after all). The political scientists Pippa Norris and Ronald Inglehart have looked at different theories of the impact of global cultural flows (they call it Cosmopolitan Communication) and map them as follows (summary below by the media anthropologist John Postill) :
1) Convergence of national cultures around Western values (LA effect): cultural imperialism/Americanization thesis (we all know this: some call it Disneyification);
2) Polarization of national cultures (Taliban effect): people can resist and reject alien media messages and values;
3) Fusion of national cultures (Bangalore effect): hybridity, multidirectional flows prevail (think of world music, for instance);
4) Firewall model of conditional effects (authors’ proposed theory), i.e. national cultures are far better insulated from the impact of cosmopolitan communication than previously thought (letting in content/values that is easily acceptable, leaving other things out).
What does the above has to do with media governance? Culture defines what is tolerated, accepted, supported.
Context #2: Technology
Global communication flows are naturally related to technology that allows quicker, faster, more borderless flows than ever before. In addition, local/national cultures change from within; power dynamics change. No longer do we live in the era of mass communication, dominated by few media outlets and corporations. Instead, we are in the middle of the culture of convergence, as Henry Jenkins (also the author of one of W3 readings) explains below:
Changes in Governance
The above changes are intertwined and have broader consequences. In other words, as insinuated last week, cultures have changed, and aspects of media governance with them.
2. Categorizing the Issues
While your answers for Week 2 are still coming in, let me try to sum up the core axes of governance we have discussed so far; in terms of “old” / “legacy” / “mass” media vis-a-vis digital media landscape.
This may be a crude simplification but it is an effort to express the overall picture by adding on to the basic analytical axes we have discussed.
Mass Media Era – Defining Concept for Governance is Diversity; the core focus is media organizations
|Local||Lack of policy support for localism (news)||Journalistic organizations (*: Lack of diversity in local media (classic case: standardized format radios taking over community –orientated radios)||Underserved, underrepresented citizens|
|National||Lack of policy support for diversity (deregulation, ownership concentration).||Journalistic: Intensified competition with same/similar content
|Underserved, underrepresented citizens/ voices/issues|
|Global||“Americanization/ Westernization” of the global media landscape. Rise of copyright regimes to support the media as products.||Journalistic: Dominance of global media conglomerates, based in the Global South.
Harmful advertising/ cultural differences
or misrepresented voices/issues,
both locally as well as in international news
(* In the mass media era, when most communication was by “professionals” — whether journalists or PR professionals — the organizational dimension was really about those fields.
Digital Era – Defining Concept for Governance is Access (to technology, to free expression) vs. Safety; the core focus is nations vs. citizens
|Local||Lack of policy support for local services (e.g. broadband access to areas that are not commercially viable).||Affordability (lack of) of services in remote locations||Underserved citizens – you need online connections for everything|
|National||Re-emergence of state control over communication – restrictions of freedom of expression; misinformation; surveillance||“Intermediary liability” – global platforms interacting with national government – and Net neutrality
Private vs. public media presence of individuals
|Underserved, underrepresented citizens/voices/issues. National filter bubbles.
|Global||Platform Imperialism; restrictions of freedom of expression; misinformation and information warfare; surveillance||“Intermediary liability” – global platforms interacting with national government – and Net neutrality.
Private vs. public media presence of individuals
|Underserved, underrepresented citizens/voices/issues. Global filter bubbles and fake news; info wars.
Food for thought: Do you agree? What would you change or add? Please comment below if you have suggestions – omissions, additions, other criticism?
Content diversity is classic issue where culture/s meet the need for governance.
Your reading on Race, Media and Civil Society (W3, Dropbox) is almost two decades old but describes a phenomenon that is not solely legal, but embedded in socio-cultural inequalities. These can be addressed with laws and regulation. One of the most impressive, and classic, case was fought by my former colleague at Fordham University, Rev. Everett Parker. (He passed away over a year ago.) He filed a successful petition to deny licensing renewal of television station WLBT in Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960s because the station had a poor record with regards to civil rights for African Americans:
One of the most everlasting, and global, themes is gender diversity (or the lack thereof) in media portrayals. And by everlasting, I mean — literally. The Global Media Monitoring – Who Makes the News project was coined for the 1995 UN Beijing World Conference on Women. It started with some 70 countries where journalists, scholars, and activists monitored news for a day. The research has since become the largest longitudinal research effort with over 100 countries participating – but its main purpose is to inform policy-making (and it’s always featured at the UN session of the Commission on the Status of Women). The coordinating advocacy organization is WACC.
The 2015 results show that little has changed and the online world hasn’t really made a difference. Just one of the facts that doesn’t seem to change: only 20% of experts in the news are women. Even the Nordic countries, the flagships of equality policies, do not fare any better than other countries in the world
In the enlightened online world, where everyone can participate freely, this problem shouldn’t exist. Or, maybe in conventional news sites, but not in most digital platforms?
You guessed it: Wrong.
Perhaps the most blatant case, the one you probably have heard of, is that of Anita Sarkeesian. She’s a gamer-activist who has begun to review video games from a feminist perspective. Her observation is that gender roles and portrayals in games are severely stereotypical:
This may sound like an obvious statement. One may also dismiss this as silly complaint: She’s talking about gaming, not the news. However, the rape, bomb, and death threats Sarkeesian constantly receives because of her vlog on gaming are very real and vicious. There are also hundreds and hundreds of YouTube videos mocking her. Her experiences are shared with many women journalists who publish online.
These are just some examples. Issues related to gender are plentiful, including employment.
The Old and New World Meet, and Clash
I will leave you with an example that I find to be the most poignant about the clash of the governance of mass media and digital media era: the Pirate Bay and the Pirate Party. The former is a Sweden-run torrent (file-sharing) site, the latter a movement – that became a network of political parties – based on the free sharing ethos of online world.
If you only can, I suggest you take time from your busy schedules to screen this documentary in full.
It shows many interesting aspects of the changing media landscapes and the culturally-based ideas of ownership, open access, sharing, and free expression; and how technologically savvy individuals can affect and upset big media. It also shows how media governance has had a hard time to keep up with the changing landscape, and values.
Please take a look at the readings for this week, marked with W3 (Jenkins = the chapter in the Social Media Reader titled “Quentin Tarantino’s Star Wars”. It will help you with this assignment.)
Please do some research on the Case Pirate Bay — and what kind of “cultures” the two sides of the conflict reflect. Think about the dimensions – axes we have discussed. There is plenty of material on PP online, also more recent than the case in the documentary.
As noted, cases like PP are defining governance in the digital media era. And governance reflects cultural changes. A thought experiment in which you are asked to take a side:
- PRO Pirate Bay: If your FIRST name starts with A-I you will explain, and defend, the “culture” and practices of PP. Perhaps you want to link PP to another field, case, application, in which their culture and practices would also apply to (and be useful). Write a paragraph or so; as a comment below.
- AGAINST Pirate Bay: If your FIRST name starts with J-Z you will explain, and defend, the “culture” and practices of those who are against PP. Why are PP’s actions wrong? Why are they harmful? Perhaps you want to link PP to another field, case, application, in which their culture and practices would also apply to (and be harmful).
Post below as a comment.
Start your comment with the word PRO or AGAINST (easier for us to map different views).
Due 2/10 at at 11:59pm.