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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 3. A World in Crisis: Atlas Reports


· 3 · a world in crisis Atlas Reports ‘Al Jazeera has historically had a higher threshold for gore than BBC has, BBC worries about offending its viewers, and in my view it often sanitized all the impact out of its package, because they don’t want to upset people too much. So you know, there are horrible things happening out there, I want people to understand that, I want them to see it’.36 The giant Atlas has carried the world on his shoulders, iconographically, from the days of the ancient Greeks to the present. Ayn Rand borrowed the image for the title of her dystopian classic, Atlas Shrugged. The novel is a paean to her philosophy of ‘objectivism’, the central tenet of which is that people have a moral responsibility to put their own self-interests first, and that laissez-faire capitalism is consequently the only acceptable social system. The setting of the 1957 narrative—which continues to have a cult following—is a world overshadowed by depression, with crisis simmering under the surface until people revolt against the regulatory measures of an undemocratic govern- ment. It is a mirror image of the setting of news reports in the years following the outbreak of the global financial crisis in 2007 and of the ‘Arab uprisings’ that began late 2010, with revolts in these cases giving vent to outrage at the consequences of arguably just such a morality—of economic and political 38 global news: reporting conflicts and cosmopolitanism elites having acted in their own...

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