World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 15

Media has a pivotal role in the understanding of international conflicts. Whether it be through newspapers, television, radio, or the internet; the media has the job of explaining and presenting said conflicts to the masses. If it does so correctly, it has the potential to create a catalyst for change. However, if done incorrectly, it could have disastrous consequences.

The center of said problems with international conflict coverage can be found in what can be seen as the biggest center of media in the world, the United States. The U.S. tends to cover these affairs in a less than ethical manner. This malpractice can be simplified into four key patterns, which will be discussed through the rest of this blog post.

When the U.S. covers a conflict happening in a different area of the world, they tend to simplify the conflict, creating arbitrary brackets that the masses can understand. This action, however, could lead people to understand the conflict incorrectly, and potentially underestimate or overestimate the danger of said conflict. The U.S. also tends to give certain conflicts more media representation than others. This is due to bias towards the area of the world that these conflicts are taking place in. This bias can be related to allies, or even to make enemies look worse. The U.S. also tends to take a U.S. centric approach to foreign conflict. They tend to ask how will this affect me, rather than relaying the facts or calling for action. The U.S. also tends to amplify or de-amplify the true amount of violence in a conflict, in order to garner greater readership or viewership from people who desire to see both ends of the spectrum.

Evidently, while the U.S. is a media powerhouse, it has its issues with regards to covering international conflicts. This malpractice can be presented through four key media patterns. These patterns cause U.S. citizens to often misunderstand said conflicts, which could have disastrous effects in the long run.

Sources:

  1. http://www.colorado.edu/conflict/peace/example/youn7500.htm
  2. http://newint.org/features/2012/09/01/media-war-coverage/
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World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 12

Being one of the most diverse regions in the world, Oceania has one of the most interesting media systems to discuss. Oceania is composed of four major sub-regions, each with their own unique history and cultures. These sub-regions are Micronesia, Melanesia, Australasia, and Polynesia. These sub-regions combined have over 1,000 spoken languages. This is just an example of the extremity of diversity in the region, and it is reflected in their media systems. However, that doesn’t even begin to cover the impact of external influence, including, but not limited to, European colonization.

Each sub-region of Oceania, and even the individual countries within them, have unique media systems. While some are extremely restricted, such as Tonga, others are beacons of press freedom, such as Fiji. With notable exceptions of Australia and New Zealand, newspapers in the region tend to have very low impact. This is due to high illiteracy rates throughout most of Oceania However, with regards to other mediums, usage is varied, due to the heterogeneity of the region.

The major media hub of Oceania is considered by many to be New Zealand. It has the most immigration from other Oceanic countries, other than Australia. It has the most developed and popular media systems of the region, and is a very popular location in other aspects, such as tourism and governmental systems.

Evidently, the sheer diversity of Oceania leads to inconsistency of media systems in the region. While some are very free, others are extremely restricted. Medium usage also varies greatly between sub-regions and individual nations. External influences, as well as European colonization, still has major impacts on media of the region today. Therefore, it is hard to pin down a single media system standard that defines Oceania.

Sources:

  1. http://education.nationalgeographic.com/encyclopedia/oceania-physical-geography/
  2. http://press.anu.edu.au/ssgm/global_gov/mobile_devices/ch06s05.html

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 11

Latin America is a very unstable region with regards to its media system. Firstly, there is inconsistency on a country to country basis, simply based on the different cultures and influences that affect them. However, there is also media instability caused by frequent regime change and historical colonization.

Latin America is a region that many European powers colonized during the Columbian exchange era. These countries have had a massive impact on the region, completely altering their societies as they knew it. Mainly colonized by the British, Dutch, Spanish, Portuguese, and French; the indigenous people of the region had their cultures minimized in favor for a dominant, European way of life. The media influences of these European powers can still be seen in Latin American media today.

There is also the issue of political instability in the region. Many countries in Latin America have frequent regime changes. With this governmental chaos of sorts comes a fluctuation in media freedom. Some regimes will allow large amounts of freedom, while others will use extreme propaganda and censorship to prevent the media from operating freely. As discussed, this varies on a country to country and regime to regime basis.

Evidently, Latin America’s media systems are very hard to define due to historical influence, a variety of cultures, and frequent regime changes. However, for the most part, the region has relatively low media freedom today. Therefore, while some beacons of free media do exist in the region, they are rare.

Sources:

http://classroom.synonym.com/european-nations-established-colonies-latin-america-23245.html

https://freedomhouse.org/blog/fragile-state-media-freedom-latin-america

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 10

Western Europe is very unique in the inconsistency that has plagued the region. Since the fall of the Roman Empire, territorial borders have never been a stable concept in the area. This is mainly due to the sheer amount of unique cultures and individual groups occupying the area.

When the Roman Empire, which spanned across almost all of Europe and even some of Asia, fell; it was divided into two halves. The eastern half of Rome became the Byzantine Empire, and eventually evolved into the region we know today as Eastern Europe. The western half quickly collapsed, and became a cluster of feudal states and small empires. Which groups of people owned which territory at a given time was not always very clear, due to constant change. This led to cultural and political instability in the region.

However, everything changed with the discovery of the discovery of the Americas in the late 15th century. This ushered on the historical era known as the Columbian Exchange. Western European powers fought for control of various colonies and territories around the world, mainly in North America, South America, South Asia, Africa, and Oceania. Not only were the cultures of these world regions forever shaped by Western European influence, Western Europe itself was changed by the cultures that they dominated.

Spawning soon after was the Enlightenment Era. This was a time of unique thought and creativity on a scale never seen before. Many religions, political ideologies, systems of thought, and artwork that are famous today came out of this period. The works of this era are still reflected in Western European media today.

The final major turning point was the World War 1 and World War 2 era. These wars changed both Western and Eastern Europe forever, completely altering their previous inconsistent system. There was a need for European unity in order to ensure that what happened in these wars would never happen again. Thus, the European Union (EU) was formed. The EU has a heavy bearing on Western European media, and even has media systems of its own.

The influences of these major historical milestones can still be seen in Western European media today. From the influences of the Columbian Exchange, Enlightenment, and the semi-unification of Europe after WW2, Western European media constantly calls back to these milestones with both style, content, and organization. Modern Western Europe is mostly democratic, and this is heavily reflected in the freedom of its media. While some nations are obviously not as open as others with regards to media, Western Europe is still a beacon for free media around the world.

Sources:

http://hartford-hwp.com/archives/61/index-a.html

https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/art-history-basics/beginners-art-history/a/a-brief-history-of-western-culture

https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ee.html

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 9

The Eastern European region is very interesting with regards to the media systems of its nations. Eastern Europe is unique in that it differs greatly from its western counterpart with regards to the historical context that brought it to where it is today. Therefore, when examining its media, history is very important to understanding it.

The majority of Eastern Europe was formerly part of the massive state of the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union consisted of what we consider today to be the majority of the Eastern European region, the area we know as Russia being the leadership of the state. The Soviet Union had a very harsh way of governing its people, and clashed with western ideology during its time as a state. However, the Soviet Union collapsed in the early 1990s, leaving a multitude of nations in the area with independence.

While many of the surrounding nations have developed relatively free media systems, reflective of western media, Russia has still managed to somewhat hold on to its soviet past. There is a clear sense of nostalgia for the soviet era in popular Russian media. With regards to media freedom, it experienced some freedom in the late 1990s and early 2000s. However, under the current regime of Vladimir Putin, media is fairly restricted.

Evidently, the media of Eastern Europe is heavily influenced by the historical context of the region. The former Soviet Union continues to shape regimes in the area, and therefore shapes media systems. Popular media, while more western in some nations, reflects a soviet nostalgia of sorts in others. Eastern European media is more free then it ever was prior to the late 1990s, however, it still has a ways to go to becoming a prime example of free media.

Sources:

http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Union_of_Soviet_Socialist_Republics.aspx

http://www.interpretermag.com/a-brief-history-of-the-russian-media/

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 8

Modern Africa is relatively unfree compared to other regions of the world with regards to media. While there are some exceptions, most of the countries in the continent do not provide a stable atmosphere for free media. This is mainly due to the complete change of the region ushered in by intense colonialism in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Colonialism completely modified the region as we knew it. Independent villages, communities, and empires were operating successfully before European intervention. European colonialism and the fall of it led for arbitrary national borders to be formed, ones that do not accurately divide the nationalities of the people in the region. These incorrect national divides led to massive conflict within most of the newly formed nations. With intense conflict comes the need for stricter governments, and thus, intense media restriction to prevent coups, revolts, or rebellions.

The situation in the region has worsened due to modern economic globalization. International conglomerate companies often come to Africa to drain resources and provide little in return. This leads to the collapse and impoverishment of certain areas in Africa, thus leading to unstable governmental regimes and restricted media systems.

Evidently, the toxicity of the sheer amount of conflict in Africa provides a hostile environment for free media. While there are some advancements being made due to the internet and smart phones, the region is still very far from true press freedom. Its rocky past has definitely shaped its media of today.

Sources:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/16/opinion/africas-free-press-problem.html?_r=0

http://www.doxafrica.org/media-freedom-and-the-importance-of-a-free-press-in-the-development-of-society-the-african-experience/

World Communication Systems Blogs- Week 7

The Middle East region is interesting in the immense conflict that dominates the area. This conflict has mainly arisen due to ideological rifts caused by the region’s dominant religion, Islam. While the two main divides in Islam are between Sunni and Shia muslims, there are also multiple other rifts created by various interpretations of the religion as well. This has had major impacts on the media systems of the region.

The majority of nations in the Middle East have very little media freedom. This is reflected in the Freedom House press freedom score of 5% given to the region. Heavily restricted by their respective governments, as well as threats by the various terrorist organizations that said governments support, the media can’t say much about the true problems in the area.

However, there are some beacons of hope. A fairly new nation in the region, Israel, has a fully functioning democracy, and has very strong press freedom. Al Jazeera, an extra-national media organization, strives to provide legitimate news from an eastern perspective to both the Middle East, and the nations of the west. Because of this, it is currently the most consumed media organization in the Arab world.

Evidently, while there are some small slivers of free media in the Middle East, the region is far from having even a somewhat free media scope overall. The sheer amount of conflict and anti-democratic principles that dominate the area makes little room for press freedom. With such deep ideological roots, change in this front doesn’t seem likely any time soon.

Sources:

https://freedomhouse.org/regions/middle-east-and-north-africa

http://www.aucegypt.edu/GAPP/CairoReview/Pages/articleDetails.aspx?aid=20

https://freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-press/2014/israel