Analyze this class #11

Can we equate the coffee shop discussions of 18th Century England that Habermas says was the ground for a public sphere to the virtual discussion platforms of the Internet?

 

I think it 18th Century coffee shop discussion in England and the virtual discussion platforms on the Internet had some important connections if we compare them. Both are public spaces to debate public issues. Both could shape opinions of the general public and lead the public sphere. Both are places were someone could access to new information. The difference, though, is the global power that the virtual discussion platforms on the Internet have. I believe in the idea of commonality that Internet offers, where topics and issues could be discussed and shared in many different places of the world at the same time. For that reason, Internet is a tool for emerging consensual global results, with perspectives from different cultures. The coffee shops did not offer this possibility: they were more local.  Therefore, I think we could equate them at some extent. Even if they host the same events, the actors are really different.

Blog Essay class 11

The readings of this week have a common point: the common spheres, its influences and interactions of the Internet over the media, but also over society. In the new technological era, connected by a global system, the Internet, and a 2.0 world, how people connect, and how societies talk and negotiate? What are the rules of this space of interaction? How is the Public Sphere affected by the multiplicity of outlets and increase of participation?

 

The video made by the Harvard Kennedy School, Internet globalization and the media future, starts proclaiming that the problem of the Internet regarding to media, it is the degradation of the information, since it is an immediate medium and it is difficult to control the quality of the processes of information and the general information flow. At the same time, it is declared that it is easy to access to more information. These two sides composed the power of Internet: the creation of a commonality. Before the internet, the common reality were local or national, but in the Internet era, the commonality is global.

 

With the breakdown of communication barriers, and the possibility of sharing a commonality by the entire world, the next question could be how the rules of this global space are. The review “Media Ethics Beyond Borders: A Global Perspective” reflects about the need of definition of the consequences of globalization. Rodgers exposes the need of a global media ethics core. For example, it is denounced how denigrated is the image that the West, who has more visibility in the global Public Sphere, offers about Africa.

 

Beate Josephi, in his article “Journalism in the Global Age: Between Normative and Empirical” reveals the need of more comparative analysis of media systems and its theories. I really appreciate his explanation towards the control that Internet has in places where we could think have freedom to write and publish. Just with the actors that influences the business news in democratic countries (corporate news, advertisers, civil pressure groups, publishers and editors) the author shows the invisible controls that media has. Of course, in countries were the systems are authoritarian, the control is stronger, since censorship and control of content is implicated. In this era of globalization, I think is very important to be aware of the simplistic idea of reducing national or communities identities to a simple unity, as Josephi denounces. For that reason, I would like to question the idea of commonality space of sharing with the conception of information for a common group of people. I don’t think any author we have read defends so, but I believe is a practice that we could see around in the Internet.

Related to June Woong Rhee article about the rise of the Internet in South Korea, I find really interesting her reflections about the interactions in media, and how media shapes the public sphere and, even, the creation of a new understanding of national belonging. Woong Rhee explains how was the diffusion of news in 18th Century Europe, as we read in the article “An Early Information Society: News and the Media in Eighteenth-Century Paris”. After exposing that the main space for sharing information was public coffee houses by private individuals, the author concludes that this helped to create the bourgeois public sphere. In the same way, South Korea´s society is creating a common public sphere, but the social embrace is bringing a new form of democratic engagement. The political discourse of this country in the Internet emerged in a transitional period of democracy. The Internet contained the institutional democratic discourse, but at the same time the society could access to other outlets that portray different opinion or proposals. Therefore, Internet was a key source for the construction of democracy in Korea, learning how to debate political issues, recognizing other’s voices and position and, finally opening a commonality of social engagement.

 

Discussion Question:

How is the Public Sphere affected by the multiplicity of outlets and increase of participation?

Analyze this class #10

You are the head of Google and a country you operate in insists you obey its propaganda ministry and filter out certain terms and topics. What do you do and why?

 

I see different possibilities. One is to obey and to live with it. Another one is quit because of professional ethics, that depending on the Government policies, I might seriously consider it. Since I believe there is Internet control everywhere at different levels, I guess I would have to deal with some control measures at some extent. Said that, I think I would also consider a plausible negotiation of the terms of the filters, try to avoid the suppression of topics that are important for a society with a democratic culture. Of course, it could happen that the country is not democratic. Then, I would reconsider to quit.

 

When I was teaching in Algiers I had this situation, since I could not raise some topics in class, as religious or politics, or I needed to avoid to do something in class at the praying times. Since I was living in their country, I had to adapt and the experience was great. In some situations, to adapt to some restrictions it is not this difficult. But public censorship would be difficult for me.

Blog Essay Class 10

Mao’s revolution, which started in 1949, brought to China a new political discourse: Marxist Communism. Since Marxist Communism was created for industrialized areas, Mao’s system had to be applied it in a different way, since China was huge, ethnically diverse and rural. Industrial areas were not big enough to develop a Communist strategy, so idealism of what a Communist system could be was the option. Something they deeply applied of the Communist ideology was to have an authoritarian system. That was not difficult, because of the millenarian authoritarian structures of governance China always had, it was part of their tradition. At the time, due to the ethnical diversity and the totalitarian power system, China always lived with social revolts (Hong Kong, Laos, Tibet, etc.). The system, in fact, understood these oppositions as something healthy, since it gave an image of plurality and negotiation, even if everything was smashed by the Government. The acceptance of opposition is a practice that it could be seen in other authoritarian systems, as Turkey had too. However, oppositional groups and revolts were never allowed in media. Censorship was very high.

 

When I read the article “How censorship in China allows government Criticism but silences collective expression” it was shocking to me that the government allowed criticism against them and the system, but they chased dissidence of popular expression. After reading the Zhao´s article, I started to understand. The censor mechanisms were accepting complaints, or even government critiques, as King et al. named as the discontent communities’ small protests, because of the tradition of having ethnic’s claims. Anyway, the Communist vision is that the system is the thing to protect, since it is the space for the human being to well develop, to threats are not accepted if they are against the system. So even if the King, Pan and Roberts affirm that what is chased is popular expression, critiques to the government, that is, to the system, are also controlled.

 

Class struggle was one of the bases of the ideology applied by Mao, empowering the worker class and fighting for the end of the wealthy class. The leader idealized the rural areas as the ones where the essence of the revolution had to flourish. The worker class, especially the farmers, where understood as the key point of the revolution, according to the discourse. However, China had an oligarchy, which lived far away of the systemic restrictions of the rest of the population. Media was extremely controlled, basically used for the Government’s propaganda.

 

Spreading industrialization, China started to see the birth of the middle class after Mao’s revolution. This fact was not well accepted by the oligarchy, since they knew a middle-class would break the dichotomy upper-working class, allowing a powerful space to a new group. For that reason, post-Mao’s system started with the Cultural Revolutions, trying to control any power and production (also intellectual and media) from the new arising middle-class.

 

In 21st Century China, things were still more complicated. With a long tradition of social isolation, China decided to expand economically. They continued using the Communist discourse inside the territory (that I have already said it was not a Communist system itself), and accepted to play the game of New Liberalism economic strategies outside the land. The State could not control the growth of middle-class anymore, and the differences among rural and urban population, and working – middle- upper classes were more obvious.

 

Zhao affirms that early revolution discourse defended the class struggle, but it evolved to a discourse with the disappearance of classes. This was the consequence of the political dichotomy moved: China needed to mutate the discourse for dealing with the new foreign policies. Also, Zhao reflects about the lack of critique to what middle-class is, since the upper classes have strongly increased their wealth. Even though, the discourse nowadays is just about the consumption and lifestyle of middle-class, since it is the one that has been newly empowered. Anyway, China is hugely struggling in leading with its social inequality, since it is more and more obvious for its population inside the country. Therefore, the part of the society that could try to revolt because of inequality is the lower class. For that reason, Government control over media is directed to the working rural class, and the middle-class, even if censorship is there, are freer to use media, as Zhao explains. Media, then, is having a new sphere in China´s ideology. Since media is control by the system, media controls consumerism and identity class new stage, so media is conveying the class struggle.

 

I recall this female middle-class journalist that started a radio program inspired in Western media. She decided to open the lines for people to call her and to explain her things about their lives. The journalist did not expect what happened. Rural people was calling to denounce injustices, as rapes and kidnaps of young women by mature man with more wealth, misery and hunger from farmers, etc. The journalist could not stand passive to the new China that she was discovering, the rural poor one, and started to be an activist of human rights. One year after her program, she moved to the US as a political refugee, since she was in danger because of the Government forces.

 

This is a good example on how the control of media is still remarkable nowadays, with the application of several types of censorship. King, Pan and Roberts develop an article about the ways China´s Government is applying it, having even a predictive censorship behavior for the future. Their article expose censorship, as the Great Firewall of China, that disallows entire websites, keyword blocking, that stop the use of banned words and other highly professional methods for censorship, that requires lots of State effort. Custer talks about another method, the used of Black PR, an underground Internet industry that acts illegally. Black PR deletes posts to avoid negative news, and “to replace them for soft ads and hit pieces to attack competitors”. Applying non ethical tactics, they make a notable profit, in conjunction with corrupt companies and police.

 

To conclude, when Mao´s, people used to think that you could have everything if justice and truth were with you, but China is promoting now that is money is what allowed you to have everything, even if this is against the current national discourse. Even the Government is a source of contradictions; it does not allow media to bring them up, since it is expected to create social revolt. Knowing about the objectives of the Chinese media censor system, how could the Chinese media bring up a real discussion about the national contradictions?

 

Discussion Question:

Knowing about the objectives of the Chinese media censor system, how could the Chinese media bring up a real discussion about the national contradictions?

 

 

Analyze this class #9

Connect 18th Century media to 21st media.

Press was the main media in the 18th Century. Because of the limitations of information transportation, the tendency used to be to have local media coverage, national information used to be reported non-instantly, and international news were exceptionally limited, or even non coverage. Transportation relayed in letters of horses rides, ships, or so. Also, by travelers who were moving around. For that reason, in some cases information were rumors. Journalists were writing for the people, who used to read (or someone read publically) newspapers in cafes or other public premises. So media was a one-to-many resource of getting informed.

Nowadays, in the 21st media, media is radically different. We still have press, but also radio, TV, cinema, Internet, etc. First, there are not problems about getting information of around the world, with some exceptions like North Korea. The flow of information is very easy, if we compare it with the 18th Century. Also, we are living in a citizen journalism moment, so people itself could report news. One of the articles we have read this week shows that citizen journalism it is not a threat for professional journalism, since a professional needs to contrast information and to process the information sent or provided by a citizen. So journalism has mutated to a many-to-many outlets.

Blog Essay Class 9

Bruce Williams and Michael Delli Carpini, in their article “Media regimes and democracy”, expose the debate of the media environment regarding its implications in democracy. For that reason, they defined democracy, first, and then “media regimes”, which are the “historically specific, relatively stable set of institutions, norms, processes and actors that shape the expectations and practices of media producers and consumers […] in response to larger economic, cultural and political trends.” (Williams & Delli, 2010: 292). The authors explore the information environment to understand the dichotomy between the events and its representations. After defending that the gatekeeping has mutated to multiple outlets, Williams and Delli reveal how the media regimes and the changing gates create what they call “multiaxiality”, various actors that influence the discourse, and even control it.  The subject is an excellent proposition, a reflection of how the discourse is created, and how affects the media speech. As a consequence, the dependence or independence of press is constructed, considering the complexity of the pressure factors that shape the discourse. I am really interesting in the creation of discourse, since I believe is one of the keys to understand the power of media over society. I believe social responsibility is a concept absolutely attached to the creation of discourse. I cannot believe how biased the discourse is in traditional media nowadays. I feel traditional media production is not considering the audience, just the political agenda they have decided to represent. For that reason, I consider marginalized a media democratic practice. At the same time, the media regimes are changing, as the article defends, but I see well considered the authors remarks over an optimistic position, since they affirmed the media regimes have changed before, and the different results had not been exactly the best paths.

 

The authors are very clear about the need of considering the media democratic potential too. The broadcast news, since it has been serving the media regimes over different periods, has reached a limiting position of citizen’s democratic culture. I think is relevant to consider what the media responsibility is over its production. This is serious; media ignore or openly manipulate its democratic utility for their political objectives. In general, society is not aware of the reception of biased information, so information environment and media fails.  Media has a responsibility over society, not just because of the discourse impact, but because of the professional commitment. I wonder if people have more democratic culture depending on how the media processes information and creates discourse. I deeply believe media constructs democratic culture in society, as the article shows. Therefore, the discourse value is enormous, since it shapes the visions of reality and political views of receptors. Of course, it is important to avoid underestimate the audience, but it is a fact that media contributes to limiting or expanding a democratic culture in society.

 

Williams and Delli finally propose how to amend the situation of the discourse media biased because of the media regimes pressure. They propose to work with transparency of actors producing media, pluralism of points of view, verisimilitude for sources to take responsibility  over the information they share and its impact; and practice in civil engagement. Their solutions are adequate, but to see them used in media, it is needed an urgent reconsideration of the power of media regimes, reformulating its influences and limiting the actors that affect for an incorrect media practice. Also, I consider notably important to contemplate a new definition of citizenship, which is in constant change, as well as media, as we see in the social media practices nowadays.

 

Regarding the readings about digital democracy and the use of Internet social media, I find really interesting how citizen journalism is taking the responsibility of media pluralism, that in many cases traditional media does not performance. Social media is just a tool for connecting people. It has been used for sustaining, uprising and catalyzing movements of revolt, but it is well used as a platform of public opinion and expression. Social media is opening the discourses that sometimes are not considered in the public sphere, because of the pressures of the media regimes over traditional media discourse. Again, I wonder if media is taking seriously the importance of its contribution to social democratic culture.

 

Discussion questions:

 

Does society have more democratic culture depending on how media process and show information? Do media construct democratic culture in society?

Blog Essay Class #8

The article of Li Congjun “Toward a New World Media Order” advocates for creating an institution that could regulate the global communications industry. Claiming that the flow of information is produced from the develop countries to the Global South, Congjun defends the need of fixing “the broken bridge of international relations”. He proposes four principles for changing the system of values in communication, as fairness for equivalent coverage, emission and distribution with no prejudices, creation of equal conditions for sharing information, inclusion of diversity and responsibility for creating social progress.

 

Regarding Stuart Hall´s concept of decoding, I see the use of symbols that are promoted in current social discourses. To appeal to a conflict as a crisis of “system of values” is very postmodernist, since it is a way of avoiding naming and facing the problems. The objective it is not to solve them, but to re-conceptualized them, so they may are not the problem it was thought.  Congjun believes that it is needed a change of values in the flow of information, but I would defend that what is needed a change of the structure of the production of information. Internet is already regulated by technic parameters that regulate the flow of the information. Who regulates the production and the flow of information? How this affects the society? Is a change of the system of values necessary? It would change something? It will change the receptors, what they read, what they think, and the sources they rely on? It is the flow of communication just a fact, or it has behind an ideological program? I think most of the audience who always search the same flow of information and openly avoid others; they will not be interested in a changed flow of information, so I would say they will continue consuming the same one. Therefore, I question that a new regulation will change this receptors and the flow of information itself. Part of this audience does not want to question or reflect about the dominant discourse, they just leave believing is the only option. These hegemonic readers could be naïf or they want to conserve the privileges the dominant discourse gives them, but they avoid the difference, the negotiation.

 

In relation to the communication process that Stuart Hall exposes, it could be said that the article is affected by the generalist discourse, in which we see the source, the discourse of the globalization. Globalization is the attempt of unifying people, ideas, fashion, believes, codes of morals, and everything in general, by the oligarchy. The problem is to believe in the imposed discourse that promoted that everyone and everything is the same, because this is just impossible. They are right in something, there is a global thing shared: everything is different, because of many factors. Globalization is just a symbol of a well promoted discourse, it is not real itself. The article defends globalization as something real, as is everyone could have the same access, tools or interests of information. This is a simplistic approach to a remarkable complex subject: the flow of information. The author tries to do a negotiated reading of the topic, but he is based in a hegemonic position. Let’s be honest too, it is just a two pages article, it is needed more development to fully understand the abstraction of the proposition.

 

As Stuart Hall indicates, the receptor of the information is also the source. In this case, the one that recognizes globalization and at the same time revolts to her as if it was an imposition. Since reception and source are the same, the discourse in which the author situates his defenses is produced and consumed by the same audience. Therefore, the article advocates that the information is not created and diffused equally, and that it is possible its regularization. Because of it, Cungjun thinks that everybody will have the same opportunities regarding to communication, but I do not believe this could be real. 

Discussion questions:

Who regulates the production and the flow of information? How this affects the society? Is a change of the system of values necessary? It would change something? It will change the receptors, what they read, what they think, and the sources they rely on? It is the flow of communication just a fact, or it has behind an ideological program?