Media Globalization And Its Critics
By Syed Atiq ul Hassan, Sydney, Australia
Where the modern day media has opened the world for everyone; the materialistic approach and politicized journalism has also promoted those people and elements who are dividing the world for their own alienable interests.
While the global media is playing a major role in providing knowledge and timely information on day to day developments in every walk of life worldwide and electronic communication have made peoples' life easy; the misuse of technology is also crossing the ethical limits of the journalism.
No doubt, the modern day media is serving the people, internationally, by exposing international conspiracies, scandals, secret links and brutalities with graphic images through worldwide satellite channels and websites. For example; When the US administration was justifying their invasion of Iraq on the name of providing freedom and democracy to the people of Iraq, the media surfaced the worst kind of human torture, one can hardly imagine, of Iraqis at Abu Ghraib (Baghdad correctional facility) by the US army and CIA personnel. At the same time, the international media platforms are also being used by world's power brokers to campaign to the public and validate their missions. For example; prior to the attack on Iraq; the graphic images were shown before the Security Council of UNO, detailing Iraq's Weapons of Mass Destructions (WMD) to justify a war on Iraq and win the international support; later these turned out to be incorrect.
Today, the world which is physically at odds has become a global village, technologically. A person living in one corner of the world can deliver a message to a person at the other side of the world within no time. Even the world's most powerful US-led forces could not find the hidings of Osama Bin Laden; yet, his message goes among his benefactors and detractors, around the globe in no time. When American President George W. Bush comments, his sayings are impetuously heard and responded from the East and West, at the same time.
Global multimedia projection has brought a new concept to the media. Worldwide media broadcasters using high-tech communication and the information superhighways has provided an international platform to the modern day leaders, politicians, activists and preachers to promote their philosophies, beliefs and ideologies worldwide.
Exposure to faiths, cultures and other elements of human sociology of different societies through satellite television channels have virtually demolished the territorial boundaries among the people of different backgrounds.
A famous Nobel Prize winner in Literature (1970), Alexander Solzhenitsyn says, 'To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good... Ideology - that is what gives devil-doing its long-sought justification and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and determination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors'.
Today, nothing is hidden in Iraq. No WMD, No Peace, No Security, No Law & Order other than the every day brutal killings and bomb blasts. Even then, the claim of 'achieving the goal of peace and democracy in Iraq' by the US President, George W. Bush receives top place in the western media.
Media has the capacity to shape public opinion and perceptions. Unfortunately, where recipients of global media are enjoying the timely available stories on the facts, they also receive manipulated material by those who want to run the world in their own style. Would it be Osama Bin Laden or President George Bush? Their opposite and extreme statements promote divisions among the people of different backgrounds yet both get top place in the international media.
Media plays an important role not only on the current civic development but also to create awareness among the masses on history and current issues. The West has enjoyed and controlled most of the world, politically, through their western media power in the last 50 years. Their worldwide dominancy over satellite channels and internet media publications has made their leaders to induce their ideologies and political concepts on the people of the third world.
The danger is that the East especially the 3rd world nations, who are, traditionally, found few decades behind in modern technology and concepts, follow the West. Now, these nations, following the western trends, are spending their resources to compete the West on modern communication technology particularly in the media industry. Even Russia, which never valued the English language, is now running an English satellite channel (Russia Today).
Journalism is a discipline of collecting, verifying, analyzing and presenting the stories in fair and neutral manner including trends, issues and people. The primary goal of media is to inform, criticize and educate the recipients on the subject rather than exploit the subject aiming to market the subject for commercial and political gains.
In the last 5 years, many nations of the 3rd World like India, Middle Eastern States, Pakistan, Indonesia and many other have already launched their satellite televisions. Al Jazeera (English) is the biggest example which is considered in the West as a threat for other Western media channels. Many from the Islamic States are desperate to launch their satellite television stations. Then almost every medium to large size print media in 3rd world countries, now, have their publication on worldwide web service.
The commercialized media of today can entertain masses and simultaneously gain remarkable profits on their products, which may attract the majority in the first place. However, whether these stories would promote harmony and solidarity in the global society is the most important question of the day.
The major responsibility goes to the western media to promote balance, fair and true journalism. In the last 5 years or so, especially, after the 9/11 (2001) attack in New York, the image of Islam has been damaged by most of the western media by promoting those materials which wrongly interpret Islamic rules and codes of conducts. This trend needs to be changed, especially, to lay down examples for the newcomers especially global media houses of the Muslim World. This is time, when media should promote the journalism delivering the messages of tolerance, acceptance, harmony and peace. International media agencies should focus on those world leaders who, in sum, must find a way to untie their tongues on the topics of a peaceful and harmonious world.
Media is supposed to be the institute of professional finesse and grace, giving an edge to their commitment to serve the public interest. In return, they receive loyal support that sustains them and enhances their ability to serve public interest. The media should be extra careful while documenting, reporting and cartooning their work to avoid disrespect of any faith, culture and race. The global media production in the East will not only demolish the monopoly of the Western media but could initiate media conflicts in the wrong direction.
Media makes Minds. The most dangerous phenomenon could be that if the journalism of exploitation continues it might play a vital role in igniting the clash of civilization between the East of West and the benefits of globalization of media will turn into a major tool to exploit the situation of global clashes on the name of faith, culture and race.
(The writer is a Sydney-based journalist and a media analyst).