Media, Globalization and the Everyday American

Dana E. Brede

Food for Thought:

  • When you hear (or read) the word "media" is your initial knee-jerk reaction positive or negative?
  • Would broadening your overall awareness of current events with diverse media outlets sway your perspective?
  • Do you consider yourself informed on worldly issues?
  • Does news that happens close to home matter more?

NOTE: There is no "right" or "incorrect" answer to any of the aforementioned questions.

Gone are the days when a person has to wait for news to be delivered via newspaper, radio or through one of the limited network news programs. We live in an era where the speed of globalization has made obtaining news and information a rapid transaction—and overwhelming.

Globalization is simply the interaction, unification and relationship between nations (states). It denotes a shift in the scale of social organization, the emergence of the world as a shared social space, and the relative decentralization of social, economic and political activity (Baylis and Smith, 20). Globalization can be viewed as an umbrella term that incorporates numerous explanations within its meaning.

There are (arguably) three major hegemonic super powers that contribute greatly to the global political economy—the United States, the European Union and China. Moreover, Russia has been vying for more political and economic influence and, in an act that has had a spotlight cast over the region throughout the course of the past few months, offered a deal worth billions of dollars to Ukraine in exchange for Ukraine distancing itself from the EU. Ukraine has been plagued with corruption and a crippling economy for decades and in late November, President Viktor Yanukovych announced that he was going to end a deal with the EU to pursue closer ties with Russia. Many considered the announcement as a major step backwards in stabilizing a relationship with the rest of Europe. People were not shy about their disapproval with the decision and protested. In response of the protesting the Ukrainian government issued anti-protesting declarations that only added fuel to the fire.

(For the sake of time this explanation is, at best, an abbreviated version of what has been taking place in the region as Ukraine has a long history.)

The violence escalated, pegging two sides of the nation against one another: those that are pro-Russian and those that aren't. Consequently, on February 20th, Independence Square became a battlefield that looked like scenes from an apocalyptic movie. Over eighty people lost their lives in less than two days and over six hundred people were wounded in the fight.

The phenomenon of globalization can be seen in all major areas of social activity. In short, it manipulates the elements of economic, military, cultural and social patterns. In my view, the modern media has sprung from enhanced globalization. Bouncing back to the Ukrainian crisis: while I don't think the timing is necessarily intentional, I can't help but consider the fact that both sides of the Ukrainian violence could be either deliberately or inadvertently capitalizing on the attention of the Sochi Olympics.

I feel the need to mention that globalization is viewed by some analysts as more of a biased "Westernization." That being said—I can see the skeptics' point of view when they describe globalization as a biased and a self-serving myth or ideology that reinforces Western and, particularly, US interests (Baylis and Smith, 21). Could this perhaps be why Russia aimed to lure Ukraine away from the EU and "the West"?

Food for Thought: What is it about our media that plays into this perception?

William Shakespeare once wrote, "All the world's a stage, and all the men and women are merely players… "Well said, Will! I'd like to piggyback off of that quote and add that if the world is a stage then modern media is the spotlight.

As anyone who has ever sat in the audience at a live musical or performance knows, the spotlight plays a critical role in what the audience sees. We (the audience) pay attention to what the media shows us and we all respond accordingly. Typically we respond with excitement or enthusiasm, bewilderment, fear, compassion, judgment…the list can really go on.

Note: Let me clarify that by "media" I am referring to any portal through which news is delivered.

My primary area of instruction is centered on varying perspectives of terrorism throughout the international community. My last blog was about the risk of terrorism in Russia during the Sochi Olympics. I mentioned the PLO's attack during the Munich Olympics in 1972 to illustrate the utilization of media on the global stage. The media as a tool coupled with states with unstable political climates reiterates the message that there will always be individuals or groups that will do whatever is necessary to alleviate their plight, bring awareness to their cause and have eyes drawn in their direction—and what better way to do that than in a highly visible public platform?

The riots in Kiev had been taking place long before the Olympics started but the images of the apocalyptic Independent Square hit the news waves smack dab in the middle of the Olympic Games. Coincidence? I encourage you to challenge yourself and make your own informed decision.

In the days and weeks following times of crisis in the United States our media outlets showed us images and stories that evoked feelings from all of us. I am certain that we can all recall where we were and what was happening around us the day the first and second planes hit the Twin Towers. How many times in the weeks and months that followed did we see the replay of that day? The media's ability to remind, reiterate and reverberate is powerful and inexorable. Further, this begs the questions: who is in control of the spotlight? Those delivering the news? Or those making the news?

Take everything that I have written with a grain of salt. Irony abounds as I have also attempted to cast my own spotlight on issues using a media portal (or, in other words, a deliberate result of globalization). With the myriad of media choices available, the everyday American has ample opportunities to broaden their perspectives and discern for themselves how they want their information delivered. The everyday American has the freedom to decide what is relevant to them and how they want to receive that information.

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Work Cited

Baylis, J., Smith, S. and Owens, P. (2011). The Globalization of World Politics. Oxford University Press. USA.

Mullen, J. and Ford, D. (2014) Up to speed: Uncertainty reigns in divided Ukraine. CNN. Retrieved on February 24, 2014 from http://www.cnn.com/2014/02/24/world/europe/ukraine-protests-up-to-speed/