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New World – New Media: Why Not Everything Should Be in English

in Current Issue/Views

by Anna Jílková

Society is currently undergoing many changes. They might not be as visible as in the past; we all walk on two legs, we all live in houses, go to school, have washing machines, shop in supermarkets, and connect to the Internet. Nevertheless, they are still there. And the fact that they happen more slowly does not make them less significant. It only makes them less noticeable. One such a tendency slowly pervading our world is globalization. And what happens when globalization starts playing around with media? Let’s see…

 

Geralt, Pixabay, CC BY 4.0

 

Special Relationship

Globalization has touched many aspects of society, including the media. Nevertheless, the relationship between media and globalization is rather extraordinary. In contrast to other parts of our society, this relationship is reciprocal. Globalization has certainly been facilitated by the media, particularly by “an information revolution driven by communication technologies” (Hachten and Scotton 9). Without new means of communication, changes of such type and extent would hardly be reachable. Simultaneously, globalization has transformed the media. It has influenced media structure, agenda, policy, and journalistic practices (Hjarvard et al. 111). As a result, the media can be considered both as drivers and products of globalization.

 

Media for Everybody

The indisputable benefit from media globalization is the improved access to information. More and more people are literate, more and more people have the possibility to connect to the Internet (Rosling et al. 62-63) and therefore, more and more people can read news about the world. The fact that people are able to consume information about events geographically distant to them helps them connect. And with these connections, people realize they are united despite the geographical arrangements.

Such an advancement is not only good for connecting people but also for democracy. When media outlets are independent, they work as a support to democracy providing “forums for dissent and complaints” (Hachten and Scotton 248). Their increasing access is, therefore, a sign of healthy uncensored societies.

 

There Is Always A But…

Globalization of the media, and news specifically, has also brought diversity into the industry – wider choice on topics, new content formats, and new media companies. But, with diversity has come greater competition. For this reason, journalists have developed a strong sense of drama. They focus on the unusual rather than the common (Rosling et al. 253). They turn to heart-breaking stories, celebrity scandals, and catastrophic scenarios in the race for people’s attention. Unfortunately, this race neglects other important aspects which need to be reported, such as news about minorities, NGOs, or traditional culture, for example. Additionally, it also increases the negativism in society.

With this approach, there is an increasing pressure on journalists. They are stressed about their stories being short but thorough, objective but entertaining, interesting but unbiased. And they have to keep fighting for the audience’s trust (Harvard et al. 121). And a similar pressure is being exerted on consumers. News is produced faster than it can be consumed and processed which is not only stressful,but can cause memory overload or attention-deficit disorders (Hachten and Scotton 63).

 

What is the Problem with the English?

With information becoming more available to a wider audience, there is no wonder that English language is on the rise. It is considered to be not only the “language of information age” but also the “leading media language” (Hachten and Scotton 75). The spread of English on its own is not a negative thing, though. What matters is that it goes hand in hand with nation- and culture-spreading. Consequently, several voices warn against the Western influence which they feel dominates.

In the media world, North America and Western Europe are the most important markets and therefore, they have bigger media influence and they might aim at “controlling, invading or undermining other cultures” (Wang 205). While some countries are still able to define the world despite this integration, others have their “history stolen” (Hjarvard et al. 110).

The growing Western influence is caused by a higher concentration of media ownership. There are international media companies that provide information services all around the world, for instance, the American CNN which has its subsidiaries in more than 200 countries. But although they present themselves as “global news services”, they cannot be fully considered as global companies. Despite their incredible reach, they are still biased in favour of their home region. And so, with CNN, the international news will in most cases still be presented within an American perspective and with BBC, readers can expect a European viewpoint.

 

Is There An Ideal Solution?

Yes and no. There are some consequences of globalization which will hardly be stopped. Obviously, these multinational media conglomerates have bigger power than local media which then start to disappear (Hjarvard et al. 118). With no media coverage in a region, there emerge so called media deserts. And these deserts are an ideal space for political abuse of power since they lack the watchdog. Furthermore, these areas have been proved to have lower voter turnout and political engagement and they show signs of growing polarization of society (Boček 2020).

Global news agencies have a strategy which does not exactly support these small local media outlets but supports local journalists at least. They are very much aware of the importance of local news, they know that “most people are primarily concerned about what happens in their own community or to themselves personally” (Hachten and Scotton 14). Therefore, they try to adapt their content into local cultural setting (Wang 210), ideally by employing local journalists, too (Hachten and Scotton 14).

It is also possible to report news differently in order to minimize the negative tone. Journalists can set news stories in their historical context, tell them in proportion, and focus on more constructive news (Rosling et al. 252). An ideal type of media to start with this tendency are public-service media since those are not directly dependent on the size of their audience; their income comes from license fees.

A universal solution which encapsulates all the problems can be found in the concept of glocalism – in the connection of global and local. A working example of a glocal practice is a national agency reporting for its bigger global sister and using local reporters. Like that, news is published with a single community in a mind but available online to anyone, anywhere (Roberts 205).

 

Think Globally, Act Locally

For us, readers, it is important to be aware of these tendencies. Not get overwhelmed by any prevailing negativism, be an active reader, and search for the other perspectives on our own until news reporters start providing them. Realize the world is connected but engage ourselves with local communities mostly, as the motto ‘think globally, act locally’ suggests. Globalization of media and news is not anything we can stop but it is something we can adjust to our needs.


This article is a revised part of a final paper which the author submitted as a requirement in her Master’s degree course at the University of Southern Denmark.



Works cited:

Boček, Jan. “Analýza: za 10 let zanikla polovina regionálních novin. ‘Můžou za to i radniční zpravodaje,’ říká expertka.” iROZHLAS.cz, 03/02/2020, https://www.irozhlas.cz/zpravy-domov/regionalni-lokalni-noviny-media-denik-lenka-cisarova_2002030630_jab. Accessed May 25, 2020.

Hachten, William A., and James F. Scotton. The World News Prism: Digital, Social and Interactive, 9th ed. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2016, https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/sdub/reader.action?docID=1977591

Hjarvard, Stig, et al. News in A Globalized Society. Nordicom, 2001, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/288822138_News_in_a_globalized_society.

Rosling, Hans, et al. Factfulness. Sceptre, 2018.

Wang, Dawei. “Globalization of the Media: Does it Undermine National Cultures?” Intercultural Communication Studies, vol. 17, no. 2, 2008.

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