Oct. 14 readings

I had a general idea of the giants in the world of global media, but it was striking to read both of this week’s articles and really see the more detailed breakdown of the “Big 7” – who owns which company and, interestingly, who’s partnering with whom. The number of mergers over the years is mind-numbing and the complicated, incestuous web of players shows how there’s a fine line between competition and collaboration.

In addition, in the Switching Power article, it was alarming to read the details of Murdoch’s far-reaching power in the media world (and the number of politicians from both sides of the aisle that were in his grip). It’s hard to feel optimistic about receiving quality news from the larger media outlets. When we’re receiving news from the larger media outlets, should we assume that there will always be behind the scenes machinations to manipulate the stories?

In the Structure and Dynamics article about how “media industries built around cultural and political identities can flourish in quasi-parallel networks.” From an American perspectivie, it’s interesting to note that the internationally recognized and highly profitable Bollywood and Nollywood film industries are largely unknown to the average American. I’ll be curious to see if, in the next 5-10 years, if the continued collaboration between these film industries and global network giants will lead to greater recognition for them in the US (not that lack of recognition in the US is a hindrance to their financial success).

Advertisements

Oct 14 Reading Reflections

This week reading steer us to a different direction: media but on business aspect. The two articles provide the analysis on three things focusing on global media organizations: first, the structures of global media organizations with specific examples, second: the partnerships between such organizations each other and local media organization and third: its role in shaping global media landscape. \

I have to admitted that I have little background knowledge on business aspect of media and journalism so it take me longer to grab a though of how the media morgues are steering the industry.

First, the article, The Structure and Dynamics of Global Multi-Media Business Networks studied the world’s largest multi-media corporations with diversified media-holdings like Time Warner, Disney, News Corp., Bertelsmann, NBC (owned by General Electric), CBS, and Viacom and largest internet company with diversified media holdings — Google, Microsoft, Yahoo! and Apple . All of them rooted in west. Since local and regional media are incorporating foreign products, it is the chances for global media organizations to pursue local partners to deliver customized contents to local audience. This process is complicated by introduction of new media markets, favorable regulations, proliferation of new media platforms and convergence of internet and telecommunication networks.

According to author, the expansion of global media corporations followed the establishment of World Trade Organization media privatization by IMF and relaxation of media ownership regulations through US’s 1996 Telecommunications Act. But these deregulations allowed the global media like News Corp to expand their reach into the developing world’s media market. As a result, it led the monopoly of world’s media landscape by a handful of global media organization in contrary to intended results of diversification of ownership and increase of citizen’s control over media.

The author’s highlight on the power of global media organizations shed the lights on an emerging trend that all other business has to embraced for their survival today. I like to say this is not just for media. All other local business from retail sales to internet firms today are facing fierce competition from entity of multinational corporation like World Mart or Google. It reminds me of the business landscape in my home country, Burma. There, some local business and state own corporations has grown into national level giants as their growth within national boundary was unrivaled by foreign companies because of economic sanctions posted by Western countries. This situation was changed by unexpected reforms by newly elected government and lifting of sanctions. Today, as the multinational corporations are entering into the untapped market of 60 million people, all local business and corporations fear the losses their strongholds and demands the national parliament to pass the laws for protection of local businesses and introducing mandatory regulations of local-global partnerships for foreign investments.

However, even with these unavoidable market deregulation and foreign competitions, media sector is exception in many countries. In Burma, local media industry is shielded by laws that limit the foreign investment in printed media to less than 50 percent of capital while no foreign investments are allowed so far for broadcast media. Although I am not sure about media laws in other countries, many countries have similar restrictions on foreign entity of local media scene. Especially, in China, despite the massive consumer population of 1.3 billion, the number available media is so minute with dominances of state own CCTV and its branches. Even in the decently democratic country like France, there are regulations that limit the broadcast of foreign music, movies and arts creations to protect the French arts, language and culture. This is despite the France’s leadership role to converge and unite the European countries under the umbrella of European Union.

It is understandable that deregulation of media contents and ownership is always sensitive one since media are uniting or disintegrating forces that can shape and reshape public’s opinions on many issues. Media contents are not just consumer products; it is also a part of national history, a contribution to our knowledge and an entity to the emotions and beliefs. Thus, my ultimate question here is Should media industry be always an exception in as deregulation of markets and lifts of trade barriers has become common in these days around the world?

The reading provides that the diffusion of internet and wireless communication has decentralized the communication network, challenging the monopoly of media ownership. The author refers this as ‘mass self-communication’ since it reaches global audiences and also users individually generate their own contents, chose platform of emission and play an active role in shaping the reception the process. Seemingly, this new hybrid form of media combines the mass communication with individual freedom liberate the media industry from small pool of media owners. But, according to the article, it is apparent that even the internet media still has the concerns for media monopoly. As demonstrated in the mapping, seemingly diversified multi-media contents are still under the control of existing media corporation and a number of internet companies, with crisscrossed partnerships between them.

Besides, since internet and multi-media are technologically enhanced platforms, it is still subject to monopoly and manipulation of those with the most advanced technologies. Although everyone is free to send and receive information on World Wide Web, not everyone has the ability to identify the targeted receivers, send with speed and accuracy, present the content in interactive persuasive way, access the feedback and moderate the traffics. Thus, in my opinion, even the digitization of information and diffusion is not panacea for ultimate media freedom and ownerships. It might be true that the traditional developed world and Western countries are no longer in the position to control the sky of internet and players from emerging countries, like China, India, Russia, Brazil, South Africa and  some others from developing countries are also gaining control on the new media. But, the landscape is that the elite and local media of these countries are joining hands with elites and global media of developed world for a new form of monopoly.

Will the digitization of information and the rise of multi-media platforms liberate the media industry from the monopoly of media ownership?

Reflection 7

This week’s readings were disheartening and but provided a necessary list of sources that determine how our media resources are currently organized and directed. Unfortunately, the reality is that the media is in the power of a few who control smaller organizations that propagate and individualize certain opinions to each community that they reach. How does this affect the marginalization of communities that don’t have the resources to represent themselves?

We see this mass collection of media separated in a few large corporations, who is the acting force that regulates them?

Are the interests of these media powerhouses to earn money and expand their influence, or to actually entertain and educate the audiences that they reach?

Organization and Management of Information Flow

Arsenault and Castell’s article on Rupert Murdoch’s business, media, and economic power through his majority ownership of NewsCorp was especially interesting for many reasons:

-While the authors explicitly state that they do not want to resurrect the idea of a power elite, most of their paper is dedicated to just this. Murdoch, as a “switcher” in the global media network society, has the power to connect political, economic, and media networks by denying and allowing certain information flows. This is especially evident in Murdoch’s ability to, while generally understood to be a supporter of the right-wing conservative movement in the United States, support people of all political stripes (Republican, Democrat, Liberal, etc) so long as they support legislation that benefits his pocket and position of power. It was interesting (and surprising, actually) to read about how Murdoch and NewsCorp have supported American politicians such as Hillary Clinton, Bill Clinton, and John Kerry, when, generally speaking, the media has presented him as extremely hostile to these people and their party. This just goes to show, I believe, that power and money are some of the biggest motivators, even in the global media network society.

-This article also got me thinking about my own media consumption. Murdoch’s “news” networks seem to function less for the public’s good and more for his bank account. However, he cannot be the only example of this. News networks like CNN and MSNBC also owe much of their existence to advertising. Is the “news” I consume really “news”? How can I ensure that I am a smart and informed media consumer?

-Scare headlines, scandal, sex, and sensation- these are the “4-S’s” of journalism outlined by the magazine The Nation. Obviously, so much of what is considered “news” that is put out by NewsCorp and its subsidiaries is not really news. This begs the question- Why do people still consume this media, then? I think this connects really well with our reading from last week by Powers and Nawawy about the difference between viewers of CNN-I, Al Jazeera English, and the BBC. Obviously, these consumers read/watch certain news because it just reinforces what they already know/believe. Murdoch isn’t really changing the hearts and minds of people, or challenging them to open up their horizons to different opinions. Rather, he is playing it smart by giving people what they already know they want. While the paper by Nawawy and Powers focused on the viewer’s of Al Jazeera English, I think it would be interesting to see what they would conclude about people who read/watched something regularly from Murdoch’s NewsCorp, such as Fox News or the New York Post.

Oct 14 readings continued

Sorry guys, post was sent out beforehand so this is my post on the second reading.

 

On this reading, I would like to out up the notion of citizen journalism for debate. One of the aspects of this phenomena that I am interested in relates to what the reading presented as “churnalism.” media has been criticized for a new outtake on reporting, which oftentimes is not only made up of what cable wire agencies have reported, but on citizen reporting. For example, many media networks will present news that consist entirely of what users had to say on platforms such as Twitter and Facebook. What do you think of this “journalistic” approach? does it validate citizen perceptions? Does it make debate visible? Does it empower citizens?

 

See you tomorrow to discuss these and other issues in class!

Andrea

Oct. 14 Reading Reflection

In Switching Power, the authors illustrate media power through Rupert Murdoch’s ability to connect various organizational nodes to forward his business goals. I’ve seen a smaller scale example of this first hand while working on Disney Motion Pictures media advertising. While building a media campaign for a Disney film, we almost always received client direction to increase spend on ABC O&O stations – ABC owned and operated affiliates –on local TV buys and increase ESPN spend both on national TV and digital buys. (ABC and ESPN are both owned by the Walt Disney umbrella.) This direction always depended on audience targeting (the outlet had to make sense for the movie’s target demographic) however, if there was a small fit, there was sure to be an ask to “help the family” with additional advertising revenue. This brings to question, if large conglomerates like Disney or Newscorp, have the capital to influence politics, economy, etc, how do small scale media organizations compete? If these corporations find ways to keep funding within “the family,” and keep expanding by acquiring other media ventures, where does that leave media diversity? What are the advantages or disadvantages of media diversity?

A quote from Switiching Power, “… if [Murdoch] likes you, you are going to get both news and editorial coverage that is different than if he doesn’t like you. For that reason, he creates more power for himself than his peers.” Can it be assumed that political candidates must stay on the “good” side of these corporations to continue “good” press? What does that say about press freedom as a whole? Are we as a public at the mercy of news media that serves to only forward the agenda of these large media conglomerates?

I’ve worked for agencies that fall into two of the four major media advertising holding companies referenced in the Structure and Dynamics article – Interpublic and Publicis. Under both companies, diversification was key to every campaign, not just in the media that we bought (media mixes of TV, print, radio, internet, and how much money to put in each) but in how teams of employees were structured. This is a direct example of the authors’ quote, “The diversification of media networks both conditions changes in advertising expenditure and vice versa.” Within advertising, teams have traditionally been organized as “offline” or “online.” Though offline and online teams would work together, they typically have been separated. With the diversification of media platforms, particularly the advent of internet, there is an increasing need for individuals fluent in both offline and online media types. Thus, many agencies have worked to cross train employees and combine both disciplines. I think this is relevant in an international communications perspective in that just as these major global corporations must adjust to the changing media landscape, so must we as communicators. Whether communicating from a public relations, public diplomacy, or advertising perspective, our messages must be optimized for the media landscape of it’s destination. Fluency in both offline and online media is essential for this.

Oct 14 readings

Regarding the first reading, I’m interested in exploring which actors, besides news Corp and Murdoch, are the global village’s de facto communications ministers? Which world leaders could we think of that fit this label?

Another thing I would like to think about

is how, and whether, anything has changed after the scandals that shook News of the World and their phone tapping practices. how was that incident similar to NSA surveillance? In which ways is it different? Who gets away with espionage more easily? Governments or media power networks like NewsCorp?

From this reading, I would like to briefly mention the case of Ecuador and its controversial law of communication. In 2010, and by popular decree, it was rules that all media owners cannot be involved in any other business that is not strictly media related, precisely to avoid monopolies of information production, consumption and delivery. However, arguments against this ruling stated that this law restricts freedom of entrepreneurship and business association. On another hand, this law was to be strictly set for private media networks, but as of today has not applied to the government, which is now the largest media stakeholder.