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Portrait of Globalization through Picture Media

One major fault line lies within the broader context of ‘media,’ where journalism has been seen as providing flows of information and transnational connections. That makes it a key factor in the phenomenon of ‘media globalization.’ It can be said an enduring image of the ‘global village,’ a quasi-utopian idea that has seeped into such theorizing about the contribution of media. The metaphor brings expectations of an extensive, unitary community, with a corresponding set of universal, global values, undistorted by parochial interests and propaganda. The interaction of world media systems, however, has not as of yet yielded the kind of transnational media and programs that would support such ‘village’-worthy content.

In fact, many of the communication barriers show no signs of coming down, with many specialized enclaves becoming stronger. In this respect, changes in media reflect the larger crux of globalization that simultaneously facilitates certain ‘monoculture’ global standards along with the proliferation of a host of micro-communities that were not possible before.

The very concept of ‘media globalization’ suggests that we are not quite sure if media lead to globalization or are themselves the result of it. In any case, giving the media a privileged place in shaping a globalized future has led to high expectations for international journalism, satellite television, and other media to provide a workable global public sphere, making them an easy target if they come up short.

Certainly, much of the discussion has suffered from overly optimistic and under-conceptualized research, with global media technology being a ‘necessary but not sufficient condition for global communication. Defining cross-border communication as the ‘core phenomenon’ of globalization leads to comparing intra-to-inter-national communication as the key indicator of globalization. For example, a big population rejects the internet as a global system of communication, because global connectivity does not exceed local and regional connections. With that as a standard, we may indeed conclude that media globalization has failed to produce true transnational media platforms or dialogs across boundaries.

Rather a combination of linguistic and digital divides, along with enduring regional preferences, actually reinforces some boundaries. (The wishful thinking for a global media may be tracked to highly mobile scholars, who overestimate the role of such transnational media because they are available to them in their narrow and privileged travel circles).  

Certainly, the foreign news most people receive, even about big international events, is domesticated through the national journalistic lens. Indeed, international reporting, as a key component of the would-be global public sphere, flunks ‘global test,’ incurring the same criticisms others have leveled for years at national journalism: elite-focused, conflictual, and sensational, with a narrow, parochial emphasis. If ‘global’ means giving ‘dialogic’ voices a chance to speak to each other without reproducing national ethnocentrism, then the world’s media still fail to measure up.

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