“‘In Florida, activism is rare. I wanted to let people know that it’s normal to care about stuff and want to do something about it. Activists aren’t crazy.'” -Andrew Stelzer
Eesha Williams’ story about the battle against Wal-Mart is especially interesting to me. I grew up in southwest Colorado, Telluride and Durango, and have watched corporate developer move into Durango (included Wal-Mart) and also seen them successfully barred from Telluride.
In the mountains of Telluride, the closest corporation is several hours away by car. Telluride sits in a box-canyon, with only one direction to sprawl: west on the valley floor. For over a decade the town of Telluride fought to raise money to buy the valley floor, in order to preserve the land and likewise prevent development. After raising $50 million dollars, and a 6-1 vote of the Colorado Supreme Court, Telluride won.
Durango on the other hand has more room to sprawl. I have witnessed the exponential development between the rural fields of Bayfield (just 20 miles east of Durango) and downtown Durango. While several small businesses have withstood competitors and successfully established a loyal customer base, many businesses struggle to survive and eventually close. There is one Wal-Mart in Durango, and while it seems convenient to purchase all one’s necessities at one location, I also wonder what impact Wal-Mart has had on all of the local competitors who have lost business due to its establishment. I am also wary to support Wal-Mart due to its low values—its history of mistreating employees and of ignoring its negative impacts on the environment.
As a journalist I am excited to read about small, local news sources, such as the WMNF radio station and The St. Petersburg Times, which have been able to make such a huge impact on their communities. I especially think that WMNF covered the Wal-Mart debate in an effective and extremely ethical way. Through interviewing a variety of specialists on air, Stelzer was able to expose listeners to multiple negative effects of the proposed Wal-Mart, without actually telling the listeners what to think. Also, the radio station provided listeners with vital information on where, when, and how to get involved with the debates—once again giving power to the people, and connecting them to the information necessary to take action.
Questions for Eesha: With the continuing advancement of media conglomeration, how can we help multiple local media sources survive? In your opinion, what is the most effective media medium for reaching people, at the local, state, and international levels?
Our interaction with the students at South High both perpetuates and counteracts cultural imperialism of globalization. Many of our media projects challenge media globalization through criticizing the concentration of media outlets, and by critiquing the narrow perspective covered by U.S. media.
Yet, many of the references in our media projects focus on media companies that hold the top tier of power, rather than expanding our attention to smaller, local, or bottom tier media sources. Therefore, we are still perpetuating the “cultural imperialism” theory of media globalization.
For example, there was only one group of international students who exposed us to a point-of-view of a news source external to the U.S.
It is challenging to combat cultural imperialism when our awareness of the “other” and the other’s resources are so limited. Nonetheless, we can attempt to develop strategies that strengthen our awareness as consumers of media.
- What did you learn about cultural imperialism, the “global village,” local cultures?
At first glance, the concept of the “global village” is an optimistic theory founded on peaceful incentives; yet, at closer inspection this theory is idealistic, and the globalization of media is clouded with corruption that may be irreversible.
The capitalist-driven free-market has at stronghold on developed and developing economies, and western imperialism drives the content and economics within the media market. The voices of international cultures are constantly at risk of being suppressed, and their traditions lost—comparative to the diminishment of smaller media companies within the United States, which have increasingly been “bought out” by corporate media conglomerations.
When recognizing how the Western world has used the “free market” flow for the infiltration of media into other countries, Media Society recognizes the others’ view:
“…many developing countries came to understand [the idea that information should flow freely] as privileging the ‘First World’s’ market-driven perspective of information flow.” As a result of “different levels of infrastructure development and capital resources” within various countries, “the operating reality of ‘free’ international information flow was that major advertiser-funded news organizations from developed nations dominated the collection and dissemination of information” (340).
It is as though a road has been paved for all, but actually the only people who can use the road are those with the proper vehicles and elite components. Thus, only people who can financially afford to use the road can use it at all.
- What do you think about the politics of information, global media regulation, and other issues raised in this chapter?
I think that it is the government’s responsibility to regulate media sources to ensure that people are receiving valuable information from widespread and diverse outlets. So, I do not agree with the “decentralization” that the U.S. government has been passing, which has assisted in strengthening media conglomeration.
In regards to the Canadian defensive measures taken against the heavy saturation of U.S. media industry, I agree with some of their decisions, including their requirement for citizens to learn the French language, and their effort to expand the range of homegrown programming. However, I do not agree with their laws mandating that
“35% of the music played on AM radio and 60% of a television stations’ programming feature Canadian content” (335).
I think that governmental control over the amount of a particular type of content that is included (or excluded) within media stifles free expression, just as media conglomeration stifles the variety of informants available within the market.
- Does your experience make you want to change your video essay? Why or why not?
After learning more about media globalization, I agree even more with my group’s video essay about media economics.
The effects of the dominant industry business model—in which advertising revenues finance big media, which in turn lowers program quality and encourages media conglomeration and consolidation—is not just a struggle within the media in the United States, but is a struggle in the media industry world wide. This business model creates a challenge for the voices of American subcultures and international cultures to be heard within media.
Active participants in a democratic society need reliable, accurate, and diverse news in order to create their own opinions, and to make educated political decisions.
However…in a capitalist society, media corporations have economic incentives to becoming the dominant provider in the industry. Eat or be eaten. Crush the competition. Corporate conglomerates purchase independent companies, and integrate horizontally and vertically in order to cross-promote and increase the synergy of production.
Ultimately, the majority of content chosen by these major media sources is influenced by profit. If the majority of the audience enjoys the content, or the way the content is framed (such as with cutting edge political campaigns), then the media will air it—regardless of providing viewers with diverse perspectives.
It is crucial for democratic citizens to be informed and to be exposed to diverse ideas; yet, it is difficult to achieve this goal with the existence of such strong economic competition. This struggle compels me to be interested in the theories of both media economics and media effects.
Within the media effects models, I think that the Media-Reader Interaction Theory is the most accurate theory. Rather than suggesting that the media directly “injects” the viewer with a message (silver bullet theory), the viewers are “active agents” in receiving media. Furthermore, media is only one part of the viewer’s source of information; the other part is interpersonal communication (235).
Thus, people are influenced by conversations they have day-to-day with their friends, family, co-workers, colleges, and community members; but are also influenced by the information they receive from the media. I want to extend this theory by saying that the amount of interpersonal communication and media exposure vacillates within each individual, so there is no determinable amount of media influence per person.
The Media-Reader Interaction Theory is an umbrella for other sub-theories including the Political Socialization Theory (adolescents are increasingly more influenced by media in the formation of their beliefs, values, and political views) as well as the Two-Step Flow of Influence Theory (“interpersonal contact is more influential than the media in affecting a change in belief because it involve[s] the desire for social acceptance that is part of all direct human interaction”) (232). Basically, within media-reader interaction, both the media and interpersonal contact are recognized as influences in shaping the reader’s opinions.
Furthermore, the Media-Reader Interaction Theory does not claim any causality relationships—which are difficult, if not impossible, to prove.
For example, Cultivation Theory explores the impact that television cultivation has on the political belief system, and says: “on economic issues, heavy viewers are more likely than moderate or light viewers to adopt the conservative call for lower taxes, but they are also more likely to support a populist call for more social services,” (236). What if the “heavy” viewers already had the same political views as the media figures that are controlling the media, before even watching the television show? Television could be reinforcing political ideals that already exist, rather than influencing or directly causing people to think a new way.
Ultimately, individuals are influenced by their interpersonal relationships—including other peoples’ political and social ideals—and media also influences individuals. All individuals are active participants in consuming information, and are accountable for forming their own opinions. Media outlets should also be accountable for the value and diversity of the news they provide—regardless of their own economic incentives. Yet, in a capitalist and politically polarized country, accountability is hard to achieve.
The Free Press is a Media Advocacy Organization, that “promotes media reform, independent media ownership, and universal access to communication,” (109).
The U.S. government passes media regulations, which are often heavily influenced by powerful commercial corporations. The Free Press keeps media regulations “in check.” When media regulations are passed that are discriminatory, or stifle someone’s freedom of expression, Free Press is one organization that appeals those unjust regulations.
Furthermore, rather than applaud deregulation, they support government regulation over media—as long as it’s constitutional—in order to encourage quality and diversity in the marketplace of ideas.
The job of the Free Press is extremely important, because the media laws in the United States are often passed without putting the public interest as the main priority.
Instead, the U.S. media has a “dominant model,” which is to succeed in a “purely commercial marketplace.” This approach is unlike most European countries, which have agreed that “the point of government control” is to “ensure that broadcasting [can] deliver quality programming that serve[s] the public interest,” (81). Public interest is a term that is debatable, but according to Media Society, people in Europe generally considered public interest as: providing citizens with diverse and high quality entertainment, information, and education—not just programs that are “highly profitable,” (82). Organizations such as Free Press are needed to ensure that the public interest remains a priority, and so competitive corporations do not become monopolies.
One issue that Free Press has addressed is the issue of net neutrality.
With the rapid development of technology—such as the mass availability of the Internet and the multiple sources that provide Internet—there are areas of technology where regulations need to be updated, or made for the first time.
With the establishment of new Internet regulations, there is a risk that information and users on the Internet will “receive preferential treatment, while other content is slowed or blocked,” (89).
In response to these concerns, net neutrality is a movement to promote the preservation of “open access to the Internet and a level playing field for all websites, whereby all content [will] be treated equally,” (89)
Currently, Free Press is suing the FCC (Federal Communications Commission) for the Internet regulations FCC recently released.
I would like to ask Free Press, Why exactly are the FCC net neutrality regulations so vulnerable? Which sections of these open Internet rules are not compliant with net neutrality? Are many other organizations appealing?
G.I. Jane is one of the most memorable feminist films ever created. Demi Moore plays a woman who is selected by a female Senator to enroll in the Navy Seals. Throughout training, nearly 60% of participants (typically men) fail to graduate. When a female steps up to the challenge, no one expects her to succeed.
This film is a representation of the ideological social structure of gender roles in American society, which believe that women cannot succeed on paths traditionally sought by men.
When Jane makes it part way through the rigorous training program, government officials become afraid of her success. Ultimately, the superior power is in opposition to the development of her female power. Her strength contradicts female stereotypes, and could catalyze a change in the American hegemonic masculine ideology.
Ironically, the female senator—who originally elected Jane into the program—attempts to jeopardize Jane’s reputation by hiring a journalist to frame Jane as a lesbian. Thus, both males and females are threatened by a change in the ideological system that constructs the expectations of male and female societal roles.
“Sexism rests on the assumption that men and women, by nature, are suited to different and unequal tasks” (160).
Yes, women and men are wired differently—physically, communicatively, emotionally…but by how much? How vast are the differences in male and female capabilities? As part of the American (and world wide) views, women are politically, domestically, professionally, and socially inferior to men.
As Croteau exposes,
“more than half—52%—of news stories in the United States reinforce traditional gender stereotypes through ‘generalized, simplistic and often exaggerated assumptions of masculinity and femininity…46% of news stories in Europe reinforce traditional gender stereotypes, and 81% in news media in the Middle East” (157).
Those gross representations have helped to normalize stereotypes and expectations of women.
However, within the 90’s decade there was a tremendous fleet of feminist films that rocked the U.S. box office:
Elizabeth (1998) Epic, Based-on-a-True-Story; The Piano (1993) Drama; Erin Brockovich (2000) Based-on-a-True-Story; G.I. Jane (1997) Drama; Dangerous Beauty (1998) Based-on-a-True-Story, Drama.
Interestingly, these films follow close behind the release of the 1980s Vietnam and War films, which,
“were part of a larger process of ‘remasculinization’ of American society, another key component of the ideology of the Reagan years, in which a masculinity defined by its toughness is reasserted in the face of the twin threats of the defeat in Vietnam and the growth of feminism,” (169).
Just ten years earlier the media was reacting to the rising voice of feminism by stifling it. Then, within a few years, the media realized the idea of feminism was marketable and would appeal to the majority of audiences attending the box office.
There are numerous factors that play a role in the shifting ideology of gender roles. Studying the representations of males and females in media, and how biases are framed, can help us to understand the ideologies that construct our realities, and how those ideologies have changed over time.
Blog #2: G.I. Jane Fights Gender Roles
Last fall I studied abroad in Italy. During semester break I traveled solo to Spain, France, the Italian Alps, and Switzerland. It was the greatest learning experience of my life. It was a tremendous challenge to research and organize the trip. It helped me to develop my critical thinking abilities because I had to create an itinerary, and every piece of the puzzle had to fit: each connecting flight, train, bus, hotel and hostel reservation—all within a tactfully balanced budget.
I talked with people who had visited the places I was going, and inquired what their experience had been. Where did they stay? What did they do? How much did it cost? Getting feedback from other’s experiences was a great way for me to decide my own route of action.
Though, the best way to learn how to judge quality was to have the experience myself.
The longer I spent in a destination, the better I could judge the quality of the resources offered by that location.
My growth during my adventure was incomparable and exponential. My skills—organization, planning, communication, punctuality, responsibility, and awareness—progressed. Most of all, my confidence grew. Just as Davidson explains, students “can propel themselves to all kinds of learning as long as there is a payoff…in the sense of self-confidence and competence. Learning…is…an earned conviction that, faced with a challenge ahead…You can count on your ability to learn…It is about knowing that, when tested by the most grueling challenges ahead, you have the capacity to learn what is required to succeed” (85).
Now, when I fear anything—an upcoming test, a new bus route, a new dance class—I remind myself of my trip. I crossed international borders and explored unknown cultures without knowing the native languages, and found a way to survive, connect, and communicate. Now, I know I can do anything.
I learned from my experience that getting an “A” on a test is not the most important measure of my success. Rather, I agree with Davidson when she says, “Instead of testing for the best answer to discrete questions, we need to measure ability to make connections, to synthesize, collaborate, network, mange projects, solve problems, and respond to constantly changing technologies…” (127). Learning experiences go beyond the classroom, and we should encourage that expansion—to synchronize our classroom lessons with reality.
Yes, technology did play a role in the research for my trip, but I did not depend on technology while I was traveling. I journeyed without a cell phone or computer.
For our boss-project, let’s set our goal high. We should create a video project that impacts others, at a global level. With the technology we have (and a group full of creative, caring individuals), why not? We should brainstorm and decide on the topic of the project collaboratively.
Blog #1: Beyond Borders