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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 2. Colliding Worlds


· 2 · colliding worlds ‘As media are increasingly monopolized, the number of voices interested in bringing their viewers a little something called truth has decreased. As a result, instead of representing journalism, the media have become loud mouthpieces for corporations.’6 The title of this chapter takes its name from a cult science fiction film of 1939, which reflected contemporary concerns about what happens when technol- ogy brings alien peoples into direct contact. While such encounters (of a more terrestrial nature) comprise the overarching concern of this book, this chapter looks at other things that collide. One sort of collision considered here is that between corporate interests and the information rights and needs of news audiences throughout the world. Another is the jarring between different funding forms (private, public or state) and between the different political sys- tems in which the newsrooms in this book are based, and in some cases, their backers’ soft power agendas. The chapter begins with an overview of critical theoretical perspectives on media globalization, expanding on the discussion sketched briefly in Chapter 1. A closer look is then taken at two channels often said to be challenging the ‘hegemony’ of global news outlets based in the West: Al Jazeera English (AJE) and Russia Today (RT). The discussion is based on an analysis of narrative themes that emerge from interviews with 18 global news: reporting conflicts and cosmopolitanism news executives and journalists conducted in Moscow and Washington in 2011, in Doha and Stockholm in 2012, and in London...

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