Sunday, November 13, 2011

News through Networks

Transnational Advocacy Networks (TANs) are an emerging power in the global scene. Increasingly non-state actors are taking on some of the roles that originally belonged to the nation-state. We read about TANs this week in Aday and Livingstone’s piece, “Taking the state out of state-media relations theory.” Aday and Livingstone write of the way journalism that relies entirely on the nation-state as a source is incomplete. Because of the beat system and the amount of news that comes from government officials, the news the public actually receives can be limited.
            TANs are groups made up of NGOs, international organizations, governments and individuals that communicate and exchange info with a common goal. When journalists cannot get the facts on stories from traditional government sources, TANS can prove to be a good source. Aday and Livingstone say that TANs often produce information and the news media can distribute it. Together, “transnational advocacy networks and the global media serve as vibrant alternative sources of information and news frames” (Aday and Livingstone).
            Two very different news stories I’ve been following for different reasons are excellent examples of this. First, I’ve working on a project for a class, about the lack of media coverage on the famine and drought in the Horn of Africa. Because there is so little traditional media coverage of the ongoing problem, I have been turning to other sources for information. I’ve used the few stories in the media I have found to figure out which NGOs are actively involved in the cause. Then, I’ve gone to their websites, where many of them have produced their own content, posted press releases or linked to other news stories. On CAREInternational’s Kenyan office’s site, I found many articles and press releases written by their staff and on Mercy Corps’s website, I found a video produced by one of their employees. International organizations like UNICEF are also a source. UNICEF has an entire tab on their homepage dedicated to videos, photos and articles on the famine. These sources (media, NGOs, international orgs) all make up a large TAN focused on famine in eastern Africa.
            I’ve also been interested in the floods in the Cinque Terre, Italy, simply because it’s my favorite place in the world and I care what happens there. There were a few bare-bones stories in the traditional media, but not nearly enough to satisfy my curiosity. I was devastated to learn that these gorgeous, authentic villages filled with amazing people had been so damaged and I wanted to find out which parts of town, restaurants, beaches and hiking trails had been destroyed. And although I don’t know anyone currently living there, it’s obviously heart-breaking that a dozen people in the region have died or a re missing. I found information through businesses, like Rick Steves Travel. He is often credited with “discovering” Cinque as a tourist destination and he kept his website up-to-date with the events happening in Cinque. I also used individual accounts, like the blogs of American expats, Nicole and Kate, living in Cinque and videosuploaded by tourists to YouTube. And I found a newly formed NGO, Save Vernazza, that’s goal is to raise money for reconstruction and their site is full of photos and updates. All of these groups, organizations and individuals link to each other online and form a network for the disaster in Cinque.
One of my favorite photos of Vernazza in Cinque Terre

            In both cases, I started my research in traditional media, but ended up finding everything I was looking for in TANs. 


  1. Jessica, thank you for your posting. I think the emergence of information and communication technology (ICTs) has brought a various sources of Information. Traditionally, we are dependent to media sources such as radio, news paper, and television. However, internet becomes a first source to look up when I need some information. Likewise, many people distributed information what they have through internet. Internet enable us to share the information sources rather than relying on the traditional media sources.

    Further more, tranditional media sources often use the TANs media source for composing articles. The convergence between internet and mobile also significantly produces more information everyday of our lives. Mobiles which contains the camera take scenes when sudden accidents occurs. I think this is somewhat positive that people can choose and be offered many information sources like you did! If there was no TAN information, you would not reach enough stories what happened in Italy.

  2. PS. I am sorry to hear that the beautiful region has been suffered from the flood.