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Journalistic Space

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Technology has dramatically changed the practice of journalism, transformations deeply entangled with globalization. New digital media connect the world and lower the distinctions between professional and citizen; both can express themselves and be potentially received almost anywhere in the world. Old and new media continue to co-exist but become networked and interpenetrating, creating new structures of communication through which journalism happens. This, rather than the addition of any particular new medium standing alone, is the significant globalizing aspect for journalism. Technology-enabled connections permit redistribution of relationships, creation of new communities, and growth of new subnational, supranational, and transnational spaces. Journalism, the information people need to govern themselves, is changing accordingly to serve these newly constituted communities.

Rather than assume that one culture takes over another, the mechanism of social change lies in the reflexive adaptation of cultures over time as they take into account certain universal standards. Globalization leads neither to a single world ‘monoculture’ nor is it just another way to describe imperialism or transnational capitalism. That overly linear and hegemonic view conceals the actual pattern of interactions and global adaptations in response to special local needs and circumstances. Of particular concern here is how change occurs in traditionally closed societies, which must adapt, although not without some anxiety, to the inevitable flows of information and professional logic that accompany them. These changes are often unpredictable, counter-intuitive, and non-linear, requiring a more nuanced perspective on the expression of power.

Rather than confront state power head-on, influence operates through networks, which insert articulation of global flows into local spaces, creating subnational adaptations from the inside out, as it were. We all do not dwell on all the ways the news industry and profession have been dramatically changed by these developments, but in general, the practice of journalism has opened up to include more citizen-based expression. Blogging and other social media have helped create an interlocking dialog between professionals and citizens. Rather than competing against them, professional media take citizens into account and are obliged to embrace their efforts. Through these new media more broadly, individuals and social movements are able to advance projects and influence by building their own ‘autonomy’ against more entrenched social institutions.

Within this larger global space, social movements are able to oppose – ‘networks of instrumentality’ with ‘networks of meaning.’ As a result, it is argued that the public sphere is undergoing a historical shift, from the institutional realm to this new communication space. We need to understand how elites, positioned within transnational relationships, operate with their various norms and logics to engage with others in their specific local practices to create these networks of meaning.

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