Schiller’s Model and the Generic Model

According to Boyd-Barrett (2010) “Schiller’s Model understood US media imperialism in terms of its functions of selling media-related US hardware and software, promoting an image of the USA and of the world that was favoruable to American interests, and of advertising American goods and services – directly through the provision of more channels for advertising, and indirectly through the display of consumer lifestyles,” (p. 140). Herbert Schiller (1969) came up with this model after observing that developing countries had little meaningful input into decisions about radio frequency allocations for satellites during a meeting in Geneva in 1963 (as cited in New World Information And Communication Order, n.d.).

The Generic model developed in Europe and it was rooted in Marxist theory and colonialism. The Generic model upheld the importance of diversity in media expansion. This theory was also committed to solutions based on experience rather than letting political influence be the guiding force.

The differences between the Schiller model and Generic model include their perception of space and time. What I mean by this is that the Schiller model assumes that the US dominance in media will always occur. This allows no space for change. However, the Generic model can apply to many different forms of dependence/imperialism. Additionally, according to Boyd-Barrett (2011), the Schiller model is uncompromising and negative. I think that the Generic model is more useful in assessing the functioning of major players in the politics of the global communication scene today.

When I think about the major players in the politics in global communications, Microsoft and Apple come to mind. At the time of this book’s publication, Boyd-Barrett (2011) stated that the Internet was controlled between two U.S. software products: Microsoft Internet Explorer and Netscape. However, during the 1990s, Netscape usage fell over 90 percent and now represents less than one percent of Internet usage (Netscape, n.d.). The usage of Internet Explorer peaked in 2002 and 2003 at 95 percent usage, but now we have Firefox and Google Chrome (Internet Explorer, n.d.)

When Microsoft invested in Apple Computers in 1997 they agreed that in exchange, Apple would bundle explorer with every Apple computer and support Microsoft’s Java standards (Boyd-Barrett, 2011). I didn’t own an Apple computer in 1997, but I own one today and Apple definitely doesn’t support Java or Internet Explorer today.

I bring up these two examples, because even as recent as this book’s publication, the dominance of mass media has changed. The Generic theory can transcend time and is still applicable even though the players have changed. The bottom line is that the concept of media imperialism is still appropriate for evaluating how one nation or group controls access to the media at the expense of others (Boyd-Barrett, 2011). This is a demonstration of how one major player (Microsoft) has attempted to dominate the personal computing landscape.

Are the recent shifts and developments in global broadcasting politics also reflected in the national broadcasting politics of your country? Please justify your answer.

When I think about the developments in global broadcasting politics of the United States, I think that the video on International Broadcasting and Public Media (2010) did a great job of explaining these developments. The panel included Tony Berman, Chief Strategic Advisor and former Managing Director of Al Jazeera English, Rena Goldman, Former Senior Vice President CNN International and CNN.com, Alisa Miller, President and CEO Public Radio International and Steve Redisch, Executive Editor, Voice of America. The panelists had opposing views that identified the commonalities and gaps in global broadcasting.

Berman (2010) said that one of the biggest changes in the politics of global media is open content. Al-Jazeera English is common property. Whereas, we have seen competition among media companies and reporters in the past, the concept of open source helps take ownership out of the question. My boss often says, “don’t let ownership overwhelm execution,” and I think that this concept transcends into global communication. We can greatly benefit from the models of Al-Jazeera and Creative Commons because they are not letting ownership overwhelm bringing news to people (as cited in Powers, 2010).

Golden (2010) led the charge for digitizing content for CNN. She received a lot of pushback from advertisers, but she said that she’s been consistently communicating the importance of this and touting that the media landscape has changed. When I think about the changes that having digitized content has made in how I personally receive news, I’m blown away by Berman’s contributions. This change alone has had a tremendous difference in the global broadcasting politics in the United States (as cited in Powers, 2010).

The one thing I heard consistently among all of the panelists is that their American readers want to hear about other countries and individuals across the globe. Gould (2010) said that Americans truly do want to learn more about those across the globe. She said that others want to be engaged with he stories of those from different cultures, instead of being force-fed the information. She said that she’s seen an increase in the broadcast of foreign documentaries by 200 percent. While there are perceived limits of interest, people really do want to learn about others (as cited in Powers, 2010).

Another common thread that I saw with all presenters that I think is critical is the concept of storytelling. Redisch (2010) says that bringing international news to domestic audiences is about storytelling and making information relevant. Even though Voice of America doesn’t have a domestic audience, he speaks about how the issue of making the news relevant is still prevalent (as cited in Powers, 2010).

I think that the biggest implication for the future of global communication is sharing content. I had not heard about Al-Jazeera prior to this course, however, I’m quickly discovering the role of Al-Jazeera in the shifting politics of global communications. Al-Jazeera English is the world’s first English-language news headquartered in the Middle East, (Al-Jazeera English, n.d.). Berman (2010), the former managing director of Al-Jazeera English, speaks about how this channel encourages sharing of information and aims to provide both a local voice and global perspective. I also learned about Creative Commons, which is a non-profit organization that is devoted to providing creative content for others to share and build upon (Creative Commons, n.d.).

Gould (2010) says that when we discuss sharing, the word we have to emphasize is “partnership”. She’s working on a public media campaign on women and girls and even though it’s a public campaign, they are working with private partners. They are encountering unprecedented ground as they navigate issues with rights, ownership and advertisers. The ability to share information and not letting ownership overwhelm execution is our biggest opportunity in the future of global communication.

Of all the core dimensions affecting media imperialism in the readings, which dimension do you think is the most powerfully? And why? Please provide examples to illustrate your answer.

To explain my positioning, let me first explain media imperialism. Media imperialism is the process in which the concentration of media from one country is substantial and negatively affects the media interests of smaller nations and doesn’t allow for reciporcracy (Boyd-Barrett, 2011). I think that the most powerful dimension is domain of intellectual property rights. Currently the World Trade Organization (WTO) plays an important role in the intellectual property rights as they oversee the execution of the legal provisions of the agreement on Trade-Related Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) (Hamelink, 2011). As I stated above, the intellectual property rights of content is a hotly debated item. As we see news sources, such as Al-Jazeera and Creative Commons, create content that is openly sourced, it will be more difficult for news agencies who keep content close to their chest succeed. As Golden (2011) said, consumer’s care less about where they are getting their news, and more about the news itself. A recent study found that people consume news from many different devices, and nearly 50 percent don’t have a preferred method. This same study found that people make conscious choices about where they get their news and how they get it, and social media is becoming more and more important (American Press Institute, 2014). With all of this being said, this demonstrates how people are accessing the news through mobile devices and social media, without paying a great deal of attention to the news source. The more open the source of the news, the greater likelihood it will be shared. The greater likelihood that it will be shared, the greater reach the content has. I think that this area has a significant ability to affect the future of global communications.

Question: Do you believe that more content should be “open source”, such as what Creative Commons and Al-Jazeera does, or do you believe there should be ownership and tighter control of content to protect intellectual property rights?

 

References

 

Al-Jazeera (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al_Jazeera_English

American Press Institute (2014, March 17). The personal news cycle: How Americans choose to get their news. Retrieved from http://www.americanpressinstitute.org/publications/reports/survey-research/personal-news-cycle/

Boyd-Barrett, O. (2010). Media imperialism: Reformulated. In D. K. Thussu (Ed.), International Communication: A Reader (pp. 139-153). London: Routledge.

Creative Commons (n.d.). About CreativeCommons.org. Retrieved from http://creativecommons.org/about

Media imperialism (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Media_imperialism

New World Information And Communication Order (n.d.). Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_World_Information_and_Communication_Order

Powers, S. (Interviewer). Berman, T., Golden, R., Gould, T., Miller, A. and Redisch, S. (Interviewees). International broadcasting and public media: Panel 1 (2010, December 9) [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ov-lN8XIPjc

Supplemental

Media imperialism, according to Boyd-Barrett (2011), is ‘the process whereby the ownership, structure, distribution or content of the media in any one country are singly or together subject to substantial external pressures from the media interest of any other country or countries without proportionate reciprocation of influence by the country so affected,” (p. 145).

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