Friday, October 9, 2009

Analysis #2 - Corporations take on Global Governance

This is a particularly relevant time to talk about the difficulties facing global journalism. While the topic of global governance is a relevant and pressing issue regardless of the economic climate, media outlets are facing increasing challenges in remaining afloat during the current economic crisis. Many blame this pressure on journalism, of course, on the growth and challenges of online media. Coincidentally, today marked the opening of a World Media Summit in Beijing, organized by China’s Xinhau News Agency and attended by major global media players such as News Corporation, the BBC, and Google. (Is it any surprise that Rupert Murdoch was invited to give a keynote speech?)

A key part of this analysis question is being discussed this weekend: how do we handle media ownership and rights of information and communication on a global scale? Interestingly, this Summit is distinguishing itself from previous attempts at defining global governance (through the UN and others) in that it is being hosted and attending by the media corporations themselves. (As we’ve read, many of these corporations have budgets that are bigger than the GDP of many countries, so it seems fitting that they’re staking a claim in the global governance debate.) Not surprisingly, a focus has been on securing payment for use of content, particularly from websites and blogs. Murdoch gave a fiery speech demanding payment for content and expressed interest in returning to older subscription models. He was challenged, however, by a media critic and journalism professor who called for a new model of governance that reacts to the new media climate – both its opportunities and challenges alike. “(Jeff) Jarvis said aggregators, bloggers and people who use Twitter to share news stories give content creators free distribution and that companies should find ways to capitalize on that, instead of trying to police it.” (New York Times article)

While we must address older concerns, I agree with Jarvis that it must be done within a new framework. To encourage both continued and increased diversity of coverage of topics from culture to conflict, journalists need both the support of media organizations and the freedom to convey their varied stories.

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