Monday, October 17, 2011

Is GlobalPost a New Model for Global Media? A Critical Approach

It can be safely stated that the "global media system" - a worldwide network of interconnected news flows - is not as cosmopolitan as its idyllic definition makes it out to be.

As Daya Thussu originally noted, 24/7 news cycles facilitated by the likes of CNN or the BBC do not work. Yes, they may be accessed simultaneously by all people around the world, but they do not automatically constitute a new and improved global public sphere where we have some heightened understanding or knowledge of foreign locales. If anything, we have learned that global media has, in a way, siphoned off certain groups while others may get over-exposure and this is all at the hands of those who own the global media system, a mere five corporations that control 90 percent of the content flowing throughout the world. Some of the disastrous side effects include spiral of silence on smaller, less competitive media organizations and an ever-widening corporate interest in what is news.

What is a media-consumer to do?

Enter GlobalPost, a Boston-based news organization that prides itself on bringing back international news reportage, this time coming from foreign journalists themselves. According to GlobalPost's mission statement, the organization does not send American journalists to the far reaches of the world to report. Instead, they hire those who have significant experience who are already located within foreign countries that can grasp the news of their various regions and effectively report it to the United States. Seems like an internationally-focused model, right? The answer: maybe.

This could be stretched to be seen as a mild form of contra-flow, which Thussu defines as the smaller, yet still present flow of media coming into the United States from foreign countries. However, there are some crucial flaws to making this connection. First, GlobalPost expressly states that they train their foreign journalists to write and report for an American audience, not a global one. Unfortunately this rings true with Robert McChesney's notion of mainstream media upholding the views of the status quo (in this case American media corporations), and thereby negates GlobalPost as a news source sought after internationally.

Second, GlobalPost's practices do not meld with Thussu's call for geo-cultural media, where the content being produced is "by the people, for the people," meaning those of certain cultural background produce content for diasporic communities of that same background, regardless of location. If the organization were to encourage their writers to contribute content as they would in their own countries, perhaps this outlet would have a different effect in the global media sphere, however, it is not in the business and economic interest of GlobalPost to do so, given their audience.

So while what GlobalPost is doing is novel in its intentions, it does not serve the true purpose of being considered "global media". In this day and age, I am unsure of US-based examples of what global media would be, as it seems the more diverse views we receive from abroad, the better picture we can thereby paint.

1 comment:

  1. Corey, thank you for bringing this website to our attention! I definitely think it may have a place on my roster of news sources. As an IR person, I am often disappointed by the lack of international news coverage in mainstream media. Anyways, I think you make a really good point that GlobalPost is not truly a subaltern flow. The fact that they are the ones training the journalists and asking them to report specifically for a US audience raises the possibility of all sorts of problems. US journalism styles may not be as effective in trying to get the scoop in other nations. Knowing that one's audience is American may create a bias in the reporting. And so on. So the concept is a bit problematic. But a noble effort nonetheless, and maybe over time they will be able to refine their concept to overcome these biases.