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The complexity of the Global Lies

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Emerging structures, with their associated journalistic practices, do not follow national boundaries but can best be understood as creating new spaces inside and among national containers. Nation-states still matter, but spaces for democratic action and discourse are opening up in ways not always predicted by the political system. These interstitial activities and deliberative arenas lie outside the strictly national space. The supranational structures—and the mediated spaces that accompany them—extend logically beyond the country level and are intuitively easier to conceptualize as a new higher level of analysis. But it is been more difficult to conceptualize these new more informal, unofficial, and non-institutionalized global spaces–and the way media and journalistic practice map onto them.

Although a more nuanced comparative research perspective has emerged to examine media systems and journalistic cultures, comparing one nation with another does not adequately capture the crucial phenomena of globalized journalism. Subnational global spaces emerge with changing and often tenuous connections to the host system. Global political communication now must be understood as a multilayered phenomenon, taking into account the development of new media platforms and practices, how they facilitate globalizing social structures.

There comes the question then of where to go to observe these relationships. We are embedded in communities beyond the ones we live in, ones not defined by place. That does not mean, however, that physical place has ceased to matter for global-level processes. The work of globalization theorists in geography and sociology leads us to seek the workings of the global in specific local places, where the universal and global becomes particularized and local. As appealing as the concept and its reification may seem, there is no ‘global’ public sphere floating free of localities and attempts to theorize one break down in the absence of a more defined and observable social space.

Rather, the public sphere itself has become more globalized, through global networks, which do not exist virtually but connect nodes, where people interact locally in real places with key members of other networks, and where they develop common norms and logics necessary for the functioning of complex global exchanges. Thus, embraces the ‘space of flows and the ‘space of places and their interactions, recognizing the increasing importance of such global cities, where the global and local come together in the interaction of cosmopolitan elites.

The importance of such cities in the global geography can be demonstrated by their centrality to world economic and cultural flows, through such indicators as airline connections, financial activity, and the presence of branches of transnational firms. ‘Global cities’ are conceived as essential spaces for the coordination of global processes. Transnational groups operating with outposts in such cities provide specific locations where the global is articulated, interacting with the local in the form of embedded ‘global citizens’ in specific localities. Here is where globalization is played out with journalists and media. Rather than tracking a group of global media or journalists, this may mean first identifying transnational actors themselves and their various interactions with journalists. Locating these engagements within specific local contexts will call for ethnographic, thick descriptions with case studies of these global hotspots.

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