Role of media in globalization
Globalization is referred to as the continuous interaction of the worlds economies with the aim of unification by reducing the barriers to international trade such as import quotas, trade tariffs, and export fees. The purpose of this globalization is to increase the services, goods, and material wealth of the different countries that are involved through division of labor internationally using the new found international relations, competition, and specialization (Seaton, 2003: pg 15). Over the years, regional economies have continually become integrated through transportation, trade, and communication. This has led to countries experiencing rapid economic growth as they benefit from the competition and also from easy access of goods and services that were previously hard to come by (Giddens, 1991: pg 25). Globalization is usually driven by a combination of numerous factors. The media plays a role in globalization and the report below will evaluate the role played by the media in globalization.
The mass media is defined as a communication means that is able to reach many people in a short time. This is usually done through the internet, television, newspapers, radio, and magazines. It is considered to be easily accessible internationally from one continent to the other. The media has become an essential and inevitable part of our day to day life because of the ease and wide scope that it provides information to. As a result it is viewed as the easiest way to reach out to numbers of people. The mass media for a long time has been the only way that people get information concerning their countries and the rest of the world too. The medias role is therefore very important since it makes it easier for the countries worldwide to interact and globalization relies on the interaction of the various economies of the world (Seaton, 2003: pg 35). An example is the television broadcasts of the death of the former Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi. His death which took place in Sirte reached the whole world in a very short while (BBC News, 2011: pr 6). The death of the former Libyan leader was expected to have various effects on the dealings and economic relations between Libya and other nations since there were both people who opposed and those who supported the former leader. Libya is a major supplier of oil to the world and any crisis experienced in the nation would impact on the supply of this commodity and therefore the nations dependent on it for oil (BBC News, 2011: pr 11). The broadcasts made by various television groups braced these nations for the outcomes and even provided an opportunity for them to strategize on the next best step to take. The global market would have to consider the potential impacts of the crisis in the country and institute necessary policies and barriers to the country with the aim of ensuring the effects of the crisis do not spill into the global economy.
Globalization is a positive process that leads to the unification of different societies with the end result of creating a global village. The media is only one among many factors that promote globalization. Other factors such as technology, regulation, and capitalism also impact on the globalization process. However, it cannot be overlooked that the role of media is significant. Globalization extends to the political, cultural and societal aspects of life and the information provided by the media creates awareness, informs of any changes and monitors progress in for example the political relations worldwide (Siochru, 2004: pg 19).
Globalization can be studied on either a macro or a micro level. The macro level spans from the general interactions of the universe in pursuit of unification. The micro level is observed with regard to time and space and nationalism. There are also other scapes in the micro level such as ethnoscapes, financescapes and mediascapes. The time and space matter is termed by Gidden as Time-Space distinciations and illustrates the barrier of time and distance that the media has overcome. Benefits that were previously not possible to be enjoyed and experienced by people from distant regions are now easily transferred from one country to another despite the physical separation.
Globalization and nationalism have a close connection when looked at from the perspective of media and communication between different nations. Media imperialism was studied by Oliver Boyd-Barret as the process whereby the content, structure, ownership, or distribution of the media in a single country which was subject to external pressures from interests of other media in other countries without adequate reciprocation by the country that was affected noting the weaknesses of the media imperialism in the process. One of the weaknesses was the assumption that individual countries provided basic foundations of the activities performed by the media on the international level (Boyd-Barret, 1977: pg 117). He later realized that the multidimensionality of the media was one of the building blocks of globalization.
Change and consistency are two elements that cannot be separated when looking at the role of the media in globalization (Appadurai, 2001: pg 23). An example of the change of the place of women in the society can illustrate the acceleration that the media has provided for globalization. The traditional place of women in the society was largely in the home compound, kitchen, and giving birth to children. The international community, though, has realized the importance of gender equality and champions for nations that have not embraced the issue of empowerment of women to consider it. The media has made this campaign easier by providing television and radio broadcasts, newspaper articles and magazines on the matter. The whole world therefore recognizes the economic losses that a nation can incur because of not including the women in the economic process. Women in development was an organization that resulted from this campaign aiming to consider the part that women can play in development. Women and development followed and presently gender and development spearheads the campaign on gender equality and the promotion of gender equality in the process of development (Straubhaar, 2004: pg 9). Consequentially, the global political sphere is now characterized by female politicians, the society shuns gender discrimination, and the individual cultures regarding gender and development have incorporated the global view.
Cultural globalization is also another element that has been impacted by the media. The extensive transnational and transmission of cultural products provided by the media is one way that the impact can be viewed (Jan, 2003: pg 15). Formation of communicative networks and social structures is the other view that can be evaluated. The above example of the cultural exchange on the global context shows how the global cultural exchange creates a change in the behavioral norms of the various nations. Similar to the role played by local media in formation of national communities, the global media also supports the creation of new communities. New social communities have risen through the internet with people interacting with each other when they are miles apart (Jan, 2003: pg 11).
Globalization includes the diversification of information, culture, and practices specific to economy, politics, and behavioral norms. The television is for instance blamed for the growing dominance of consumer-oriented western media and entertainment products and how these media products contribute to the transmission of values and ideas that overlook the indigenous ones. As stated earlier, globalization has an objective of promoting interaction of global economies and unifying the world. However, some nations do not support this unification and would rather uphold their national values, ideas, and practices without welcoming outside influence. Asian nations show that the media is considered to be one of the channels where the ideas, proposals, and roots of globalization start. Michael Richards and David French are two authors who present the restrictive measures put by Asian governments in attempts to prevent influence of western media from polluting the sacred beliefs and values of the nationals. Singapore and Malaysia for instance have presently banned satellite television and in areas where satellite television is not banned most programs are censored (Richards and French, 2000: pg 21).
One can argue some media instruments such as the radio have lost appeal among most people. However, it should be noted that social and economic divisions determine who can and cannot gain access to a computer and therefore the internet. People living in poor conditions are more likely to possess a radio than a computer. The death of Muammar Gaddafi was widely posted over the internet. However, those that could not access the internet received the same message through the radio, television, and newspapers. Of these three, the radio is the cheapest option since it is cheaper to purchase than the television and once purchased it serves the owner for a long time.
Trans-border data flow forms one of the major issues in globalization of the communications media. Other issues being media trade, information and media flows, cultural imperialism and also effects of national development. Multidirectional media flow is very beneficial to most countries as people get to know more about the world as a whole and how their country is doing in terms of trade with other countries (Straubhaar, 2004: pg 6). However, media flow can have consequences that can be deadly serious in some of the poor countries. There were epidemics of infant death and diarrhea in some African countries as mothers adopted bottle milk in place of breastfeeding as a result of programs they had seen in advertisements in American and European television programs (Jan, 2009: pg 9).
Media is directly interrelated with power and that forms one of the main reasons why the study of global media is considered to be very essential and also a key factor in framing the various theories of the media. The analysis of the media market and power shows us that media plays a huge role in the process of globalization and if used effectively will have great benefits to a nation. The communication sector and electronic media are considered to be the most influential in the current drive in globalization of trade, production, and markets (Devereux, 2003: pg 25). The rate at which the media has expanded has been very phenomenal. The organization of software and hardware together with the global redistribution of activities and content production are some of the things that have had a great impact on globalization (Devereux, 2003: pg 13). The media impacts uniquely on globalization in two directions. One of them is that the media is an enabler of globalization. Globalized production strategies depend on telecommunication. The other direction is the communication and media sectors act as powerful agents in political, social, and cultural transformation (Appadurai, 2001: pg 15). Citizens of many countries are able to participate in the political process through the media. It can also be used education of the people on their human rights. These roles are very vital and should be played by the communication and media sectors in every country that values democracy.
There has been a notable rise in non-commercial media that enable people to be at the centre of global and local levels. This has enabled more people globally to have access to information which has been very beneficial in raising their living standards. This has been very beneficial in reducing the gap between the poor and wealthy regions of the world. If most governments were to be co-operative and in increase non-commercial media houses while at the same time enacting laws to reduce the prices charged by commercial media, then the rich between the gap and the poor would be greatly reduced and this would be a big step in reducing the poverty levels in some nations (Siochru, 2004: pg 2). Information is power and would be very beneficial if it was easily flowing.
In conclusion, studying the role of the media in the process of globalization, we realize that the media is a very powerful tool that has greatly enhanced the growth of globalization. If used wisely, the media can strengthen and sustain the political, social, cultural, and economic structures of a country. The media can achieve this by limiting on advertising and increasing universal service obligations together with the public domain information. Media content should also be censored to prevent moral decay in the society. Despite the negative attributes of the media, it has and is still the biggest source of information to people creating awareness and also keeping the people abreast o the happenings in the rest of the world. The media is also used as a tool in health education and can be used to educate the mothers in the developing countries in the process reducing the high rates of infants that are experienced every year. Improved communication made possible by the media ensures the economic, social, political and cultural interactions of various nations are fast, efficient and accessible to interested parties. An event that has the potential to impact on the political, social or economic aspects of others can be broadcasted worldwide hence reporting on progress and preparing the public for the outcomes of the event. The death of Muammar Gaddafi is one such event which was characterized by riots in some areas and celebrations in others within just a short while of his death.
Appadurai, A. 2001. Globalization. North Carolina: Duke University Press.
BBC News Africa. (2011). Libyas Col Muammar Gaddafi Killed says NTC. Retrieved December 29, 2011 from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15389550
Boyd-Barrett, O. 1977. Media imperialism: towards an international framework for the analysis of media systems, pp. 116-135 in J. Curran and M. Gurevitch (eds) Mass Communication and Society. London: Edward Arnold.
Devereux, E. 2003. Media Globalisation in Understanding the Media. London: Sage Publisher
Giddens, A. 1991. The consequences of modernity. Cambridge: Polity Press
Jan, M. 2009. Globalization of Media: Key Issues and Dimensions. Retrieved December 29, 2011 from www.eurojournals.com/ejsr_29_1_08.pdf
Michael Richards & David French (2000). Globalization and Television: Comparative Perspectives, 12 THE CYPRUS REVIEW 11-26.
Seaton J. (2003). Global futures: the information society and broadcasting in Curran & Seaton Power without Responsibility, 6th edition. London: Routledge.
Siochrú, O. 2004. Social consequences of the globalization of the media and communication sector: some strategic considerations, Geneva: International Labor Office
Straubhaar, L. 2004. Media Now, Understanding Media, Culture, and Technology. Odyssey: Wadsworth Inc.