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Global News

Reporting Conflicts and Cosmopolitanism


Alexa Robertson

Global News explores how media representation is conceived and enacted in a world of diversity and transborder flows. Among the ‘new media’ crowding the global mediascape are influential television outlets that promise viewers alternative vantage points to those of established Western broadcasters. The different worlds depicted by Al Jazeera English and Russia Today are compared with those of CNN International and BBC World. At a time when media organizations are slashing their budgets for international reporting, these channels represent a spectrum of financing solutions and relations to political power, being variously privately-, publicly-, or state-owned, backed by corporations, democratic states, authoritarian regimes, and ruling dynasties. Despite their differences, however, they have much in common. Their journalists espouse the universal values of professionalism and objectivity and speak to their global audiences in English. This book explores the different theoretical worlds of global media studies, takes a rare look at content, has a comparative perspective, and moves beyond the conflict frame that has dominated much of the literature in the field.


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Chapter 1. The Global Village and the Ivory Tower


· 1 · the global village and the ivory tower This book is about the different worlds of global television news—theoretical, empirical and imaginative. In the theoretical realm, global news has been understood in terms of capitalist profit, political propaganda, technological empowerment, cultural connectivity and morality. On an empirical level, the institutional and political contexts in which global newsrooms flourish or founder are worlds apart. Those which feature in these pages are funded by classic democracies, an authoritarian state, and a family dynasty, and each is moored in a different part of the globe, representative, it could be argued, of both ‘the West’ and ‘the Rest’ (to paraphrase Stuart Hall). In the realm of the imagination, the newsworlds available to global audiences differ in intriguing ways as well, and one of this study’s main contributions to scholarship on media globalization is to show how they do. While the impact of such differences can only be established by studying global audience reception—a task which lies beyond the scope of this book, just as the funding for such an endeavour lies far beyond the grasp of most hermeneutically minded social scientists—the comparative analysis of global newsrooms’ depictions of the world is a start. It provides a point of entry into what Keane (2003: 169) described as ‘narrated, imagined, non-violent spaces’ in which power can be scrutinized, praised and 2 global news: reporting conflicts and cosmopolitanism condemned by millions of people throughout the world ‘in defiance of the old tyrannies of space...

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