Sunday, September 11, 2011

9/11 and the Case for Inter-Nationalism

We know media has nation-building characteristics. As our readings from “The Information Revolution and World Politics,” “The Historical Context of International Communication” and “The Emergence of Technical Networks” have discussed, the introduction of a communication technology to a group will assist in beginning to build a sense of connectivity. These connections can be facilitated through similar language, affiliation, cultural background, a common authority or other contributing factors.

However, with the advancement of technology in the modern day, where groups can form beyond international borders under the umbrellas of similar interest or experience (i.e. Internet forums, Facebook groups, blogs) the question arises: can there be inter-nation building through international media?

I would like to preface this notion by clearly defining how I plan to use the term internationalism. This term is often referenced as more of an antithesis of nationalism where there is cooperation between nations for their common good. I would like to bend this definition to include nations that may perhaps devote as much or more attention to the interests of another nation rather than their own.

The recent 10-year anniversary of the Sept.11, 2001 terrorist attacks in the United States could stand as an example of this internationalism. Upon a quick search of some of the more commonly known international news sites (Xinhua News, Times of India, The Australian, Guardian, Le Monde, BBC, Al Jazeera), all noted the anniversary of the attacks as the top story on their page, some even running multi-story packages on the subject. Given what we have learned from our readings, is it possible that these regions of the world are consuming from their respective outlets and thereby assigning priority to events in the US over their home countries?

Certainly the annual remembrance of the attacks bolster nationalism within the US in the form of symbols of patriotism, reaching out to one another, charity, etc, but are citizens of these other nations feeling the same enthusiasm toward the US because they are exposed to the same media coverage?

There are some caveats to this case. First, the US media landscape has historically dominated internationally, as our readings from Elizabeth Hanson and Daya Thussu noted. According to these readings, the US was the frontrunner in wireless telegraphy/radio broadcasting, telephone communication, television broadcasting and the advent of the Internet, all of which are now utilized internationally. This created a media landscape that was heavily US-dependent, then US-centered as regional media developed. Also, the attacks took place at the World Trade Center in New York City, a location and area that is perhaps not best described in the context of just the US, but as an international center in itself.

I would be intrigued to research whether this is only an observation with the US or if this could be applied to other groups of countries. For example, do smaller Asian countries such as Bhutan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Nepal rely heavily upon media from India in their respective news outlets and thereby exhibit nation-building characteristics for India as well as their own nation?

This is yet to be examined in depth, but I thought to raise this particular question in light of our discussion on international communication power and influence and the timely example of the 9/11 attacks. I’d welcome any thoughts on the subject.

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