1. POWER that Defines Stakeholders: Micro, Meso, Macro
This week, we look at the STAKEHOLDERS of media governance. We have determined that we can look at governance in terms of societies, specific organizations, and individuals. Remember Steward Clegg’s (1989) idea of the circuits of power – very useful here.
2. CONTEXT that Defines Stakeholders: Globalization
Most media governance stakeholders in the past decades have focused on national contexts — mass media, after all, were structured around national systems. But the philosophical grounds are shared in many countries. Ever since the Greco-Roman tradition of public communication as a tool for problem-solving and decision making (think Aristotle & Socrates) the ideas and ideals of communication and democracy have been closely linked. The rise of mass media in the 19th century took that idea to another level when information could be shared, at least potentially, not only by the elites, but by vast groups of people, regardless of economic or social standing. No wonder the printing press was influential in educating and activating the proletariat.
Later on, in the 20th century, many countries chose to establish a public broadcasting system to ensure several components that had to do with the media’s relationship with democracy: universal access to media contents; diversity of all kinds of contents (famously, the trinity originally attributed to the BBC: public media should inform, educate and entertain); as well as a variety of voices and viewpoints, also those of minorities. In the academic contexts, the normative model of the public sphere by Jürgen Habermas was often used in defense of such thinking: a democracy needs a diverse functioning media to guarantee a public sphere where citizens (virtually) meet to debate (rationally) and agree (consensus) on common issues.
The above discourses on media and democracy have a Western conceptual history, but with globalization have become prominent in international contexts. The idea of Development Communication often included the idea of (more) universal access and, hence, establishment of vehicles of public service media.
And Internet and mobile communication multiplied opportunities and challenges. The new platforms also made many media reform issues increasingly borderless, global. The array of slogans of transformations includes: Globalization of media markets and conglomerization (often vertical integration) of media companies; fragmentation of audiences and their transformation into prosumers; deregulation of media policies; commercialization of media structures – and an incredible proliferation of platforms, contents, and producers of media. All this affected traditional media as well as networked and mobile communication. In terms of the global outlook, the idea of democracy and democratization now embraced the concept of ICT4D.
The context of the United Nations and global debates on the role of the media reflect the above development:
Freedom of Expression is defined already in theUniversal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) of 1946, Art. 19.
The discussions on Right to, and Freedom of, Information entered the debate in the 1960s — when the role of governments and states were questioned and the rights of individual citizens to information were brought forth.
Around the same time, the lesser developed countries begun to bring up the Right to Communicate: They wanted to challenge the Western domination of mass communication. Active partners in the conversation were UNESCO, proposing theNew World Information and Communication Order and the so called UN McBride Commission (1980).
In the 1990s, the idea of the Right to Cultural Identity was added to UNDHR — and challenged in fora such as the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) , and later in the World Trade Organization (WTO) in terms of copyright agreements. (A fun fact: Here’s the fake website by anti-globalization activist that describes what GATT/WTO does).
At the same time, the UN recognized the increasing importance of the Internet and organized two major meetings on the issue: The World Summit on the Information Society. It soon became clear, also with the beginning of the UN-driven Internet Governance Forums, that Communications Rights was the term several stakeholders started to use as an umbrella term for the new challenges of the networked era.
Read more here from a short summary article on the historical developments above.
Much of the recent debate has focused in the Internet and Human Rights. In late 2009, Finland declared broadband access a legal right. The UN followed in 2011 in declaring the importance of access:
“Given that the Internet has become an indispensable tool for realizing a range of human rights, combating inequality, and accelerating development and human progress, ensuring universal access to the Internet should be a priority for all states,”
– Frank La Rue, a special rapporteur to the United Nations, in his report to the UN Human Rights Council
But while human rights seem universal, they can also been seen as relational and contextual, even when we think about the Internet. For instance, the question of access may include challenges of corruption and concentration of ownership, as someAfrican activists argue.
NOTEWORTHY FOR ICM experts: While many issues, from censorship to surveillance, are no longer national, nations and regions still matter. Media Governance — that is, who gets to control the media — is both a global and a local matter. It has local and global stakeholders.
It goes without saying that multinational media and technology conglomerates as well as international organizations, such as WTO and ITU, and supra-national bodies such as the EU, influence areas beyond nation-states.
You’ve seen this graph before, too. As this outline of media governance shows, a part of the governance does happen in multi-national contexts.
Yet, much of media regulation is nation-bound.
National mass media systems can be classified broadly as:
- authoritarian (the government practically decides everything, including acceptable content), to
- free market driven (self-explanatory), to
- public service-oriented ones (the government may have some say, e.g., some media outlets are financed by public funds, but the outlets operate relatively independently. A classic example: the afore-mentioned BBC). And old mass media regulatory frameworks often influence attempts to nationally regulate the Internet and mobile communications. Today, the trend seems to be that governments all over the world are taking over public service, compromising their independence and forcing national broadcasting systems under more authoritarian rule.
In addition, much of the history of consumption, of political participation, of economic structures still influences the present. They affect global challenges and bring about specifically local issues. Alone the basic statistics on internet access and use in different regions in the world attest to vast differences.
3. CAUSES that Defines Stakeholders: From Policy-Makers to $-Makers to Change-Makers
Harvard professor Joseph Nye (in his famous book Governance in a Globalizing World, mentioned in ICM810 yesterday, for those who take that class) identifies the layer of governance as follows: Private sector, public sector, and third sector; in supranational, national and ‘subnational’ levels.
To give an example of Nye’s matrix:
But today, in our increasingly media and technology-dependent world, we also have individuals and groups — perhaps the 4th Sector — that are not necessarily focused and organized to govern the media, but need to engage in media governance:
Further in the book by Hackett & Carroll (your reading for Week 4, Chpt 3) they note that three kinds of groups potentially engage in struggle for more democratic media:
(1) Those within and around media industries – journalists, other media professionals, librarians, communications researchers. Today, we can add information technology specialists (just think of Manning and Snowden) into this group;
(3) Those ‘diffuse’ sectors who occasionally mobilize for better media when they feel that media pose a threat to their cause (e.g., a classic example would be children’s protection/rights activists that might oppose violence on TV, be concerned about children in social media, and so on).
H&C wrote their book a decade ago. Is their view still accurate?
I suggest that we can add at least a few other groups in the mix:
(4) Semi-professionals. As mentioned by many, citizen journalism, for example, has flourished in the past decade. Is it media reform — reforming the news media landscape? Could we call organizations such as Wikileaks a media reform group? How about crowd-sourced crisis mapping platform Ushahidi — that clearly performs public service?
(5) Foundations. Many international foundations understand the power of the media in the processes of democratization — or maintaining democracy. For instance, the Open Society Foundations (global; former Soros Foundation) Mapping Digital Media project sought to provide information and data for activists, advocates, policy-makers and other stake-holders. Nominet Trust (UK) ranks most inspiring social media innovations, and so on.
(6) Consumers/Users/Netizens? Some say we, as individuals, are media companies of our own. We create and distribute content constantly. How much can we change by our individual actions? Recently, many have declared on Facebook and Twitter that they, personally, will not spread fake news. Many news outlets are giving tips on how to govern one’s news feeds.
Given these many media landscape shifts, how should we should conceptualize, support, and act towards ‘media democracy’ and ‘good media governance’? Multi-stakeholder modeling has been offered as the solution by scholars and change-makers alike.
The idea of using a multi-stakeholder approach to conceptualize media-related issues and processes is nothing new. Multi-stakeholder modeling has been used, for instance, in tracing technological diffusion in media industries, by mapping developments in organizational, industry and environmental levels, or discussing how to frame media ethics.
Also, the field of media management has embraced the concept of ‘multi-stakeholderism’ over the last decade. For example, McQuail, 2000 (whom many of us might have read in other courses) has discussed the many ‘pressures’ that a media organization faces from actors, ranging from competitors, news agencies, owners, and unions, to those that have legal and political control; from diverse pressure groups and other institutions; distribution channels and audiences to pressures created by events and constant information and culture supply. (The organizational media governance — governance from within — will be discussed in detail later in the course.)
Yet, Internet Governance, and the UN-driven IG Forums has brought the need of multi-stakeholder dialogues in the forefront of policy-making, as well as media reform mobilizing. The challenges are so great that without the collaboration of governments, the industry, and the civil society, there is no way to democratize the net. Here is a wonderful account on multi-stakeholderism in Internet Governance by Consumers International.
5. Assignment: A Case that Interests You
Your assignment for this week is to find a governance case with an INTERNATIONAL or GLOBAL angle and with at least two different kinds of stakeholders (the UN, nation states, politicians, companies, advocacy organizations, individuals…). This can be about regulating the media at a global level, or a company governing its communication in a new cultural context, or an individual communicating with a global scope/influence…
Deliverable: Storify Board
- Illustrate your case with a Storify storyboard. (So here’s the platform.)
- Include a bit of discussion (2-3 sentences) on why you chose this case and what can we learn by looking at the different stakeholders.
- Include at least two kinds of stakeholders who have a stake in your case.
- Please post a link to your story below, as a comment.
Here’s a one minute tutorial if you haven’t used Storify before:
In order to create you will need to sign up for a Storify account. Use any email and screen name you like.
TIP: Remember to publicize your Storify board. Otherwise it can be seen only by you.
Here’s an example, related to last week’s discussion, that I created for you.
Your W4 reading is by Hackett & Carroll, Intro_ Chapters 1 & 3. For extra reading and inspiration, the Google Drive includes a Guidebook on Media Governance by AMARC, the World Association of Community Radio Broadcasters. I uploaded for you to see how a Third Sector organization approaches media governance.