The Global Media System Debate

Our last class discussion was all about media flows and the global media systems that exist. From our discussion, we determined that there were two major sides of the debate. On the one hand, it is believed that media systems create who we are. And on the other is the idea that we have agency and basically can control what media we choose to absorb. These issues seemed really clear, cut and dry to me, until I really started thinking about them. Simply put, it’s the debate that theorists continue to have, how exactly does media effect the people who watch it? Or is it in fact the other way around?

It’s not that one side is right while the other side is wrong, for me it seems that it’s a bit of a combination. We as people choose what media we want to absorb whether that is from the BBC, CNN or even a local news outlet. But the media organization chooses how they want to present the arguments/facts that they are covering and as such end up shaping and creating who we are. I guess what I’m trying to say is that both sides are in fact correct in their analysis of the debate over how media systems transmit their information, but I don’t think that you can look at each side separately and forget that the other side of the debate also exists.

I actually think that Robert McChesney brings up an interesting point about the media systems. He claims that these global media systems are producing people that are depoliticized. “…[T]he global media system plays a much more explicit role in generating a passive, depoliticized populace that prefers personal consumption to social understanding and activity, a mass more likely to take orders than to make waves.” (209). In some ways, I think that McChesney is right. People are consistently inundated with news and information that they shut off the function of their brain that allows them to process what requires action and instead they just filter everything.

But, on the other hand, I would counter McChesney by saying that this is not necessarily the case. The Occupy Wall Street Movement, for example, while there isn’t a clear and concise agenda in hand, shows that people are still paying attention to what is going on around them.

Ultimately, I think I’m once again harping on the idea that people should be media literate so that we don’t end up a depoliticized mass of followers or those who will only follow media that they believe.



One thought on “The Global Media System Debate

  1. After reading the quote from McChesney, I wrote in my notes, “Disagree”. I don’t think media is creating a passive and depoliticized environment. Political news is following the route of entertainment, it goes for the latest scandal and salacious tidbits aiming to make people angry and fire them up. The narrow-casting that media is now practicing, Fox News=Republican and MSNC=Democrat, divides people even further as most do not watch both channels, but only get their news from one. We are basically closed off to other people’s points of view, and the atmosphere is becoming less civil and more argumentative and agressive.

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