What Are the Implications of the GlobalisatIon of Television News? | News | Cnn

What are the implications of the 'globalisation of television news'?

'Globalisation of television news' refers to a set of processes which see that the existence of television news products, infrastructure and companies is expanded out of the existing area of operation and around the world. These occurrences are enabled not simply because of a will to be global, but also, and initially, because satellite communication technology brings the ge<)s1ati()iie!"y to the fore, making any event on the planet which takes place in close proximity to a camera as nearby as any other. Tills essay examines the characteristics of, and issues surrounding globalised news, and the impact left by the explosion of new, worldwide organisations and content.

Of all the different methods of global news delivery and of all the different news providers amongst a burgeoning collective, few organisations can embody globalised news broadcasting as does CNN. Not just in its expanding professional practices, but also in its founding principle, the Cable News Network has a global ideology, and one which ironically undermines the notion of the global in favour of the neo iocal: "Ted Turner banned on air use of the word 'foreigner,' insisting that all the world's peoples are 'neighbours, brothers and sisters."' (1) It is a sentiment echoing the McLuhanite belief that "we now share too much about each other to be strangers to each other." w The boss believes that a common source of information will inevitably bring people closer to each other, and we can argue that unification is brought about by such globalised news services.. "CNN now employs a satellite system that covers six continents, reaching some 210 countries and territories, with potential access to a half billion people every day."'3' Its impact, and so that of television news globalisation, is said to be so profound as to produce a "CNN effect," whereby it inadvertently shapes news events themselves because of its aggressive live coverage. But it is one organisation operating in a complex system in which 'globalisation' has many meanings,, a news producer and retailer in an environment in which wholesaler news agencies and exchange schemes also compete, providing material to networks at the broadcast end. Tn fact, because television news prioritises those events for which pictures are available, this professional judgement adds bias to the information the audience receives. Important events in remote places therefore, 'global news' may be initially inhospitable to cameras and journalists... perhaps a natural disaster, or because the distance a crew must travel knocks back transmission time and kills exclusives, or because of political constraints on journalistic movement. These are the reasons for news exchanges, to extend the scope of coverage despite the limitations. All of these and more newsroom codes affect the end product. When globalisation imposes such parameters on production practices, the extent of the globalisation of actual new?s content is witnessed in the programme's national international balance, because 'home news' is regarded as vitally important, particularly in the absence of 'world news.' So, it appears that the implications for newsgatherers, broadcasters and their audiences are that resources (men in the field, speedy, plentiful and light communications equipment; and good, liberal access to the network or a rolling service of one's own) really are important for the producers in determining a decent and professional global make up. In short, "the actual choice of items and treatment is obviously related to what is happening in the world, but is also tied to priorities set in the news organisation." (4) The reality of television news, with its drive for picture led news, was that most TV watchers in most countries could watch an Iraqi Scud missile streak across the sky to Israel in 1991, then landing and exploding there. This is the case whether the viewer subscribes to the

pictures' original provider or not, because the likelihood is that gatherers like CNN, for example, with commercial motives ati of their own, are willing to sell on their footage to other networks eager to air such dramatic pictures. The globalisation phenomenon itself puts pressure on its newsgatherers to extend reach, ironically in spite of cost cutting realities at home, so they look to the footage of other organisations (wires or other outfits) to artificially extend their operation. This is a second level of globalisation... not the content (the news), but the commercial and production practices which enable that content. What are the effects of imported material? welUthe audience is no longer aware of the reports' origins or of its author's identity, whereas knowledge of authorship may be a crucial factor in determining journalistic credibility. Because distanced broadcast reporters may or may not exert their own editorial discretion over pictures and information received from anonymou sgency journalists, the integrity and source of 'fact' is uncertain. Also, a dominant elite of news providers giving material to the world's broadcasters, like a New World Information distributor all of its own, could be said to bring about a global consensus or framework of opinion. It may be argued that such phenomena eradicate differences in the facts reported, in the synchronicity of viewing, and in the resulting cultural reception. Globalisation of news would be seen as an agent of cultural imperialism. For the impact of that, look no further than exponents like Herve Bourges. \vho lamented French reliance on foreign, Anglo American image making during the Gulf War and: "suggested that some allied misinformation had contributed to spoiling the traditionally good relations with some Arab counts ies. If key mainstream figures in major Western countries express concerns about the unbalanced flow of international information, then there must be a problem." t5' Globalisation via exchange programmes can result in bizarre cultural dilutions, Israel's membership of Euro Vision and winning of its Song Contest meaning the Middle East plays 0^ lead role in what is an uniquely European arts event. And the concentration of production amongst Western organisations may affect definitions of other cultures within and outside of their own territories, dividing the planet up into areas relative to the English speaking 'First World.' But 'globalisation of television news' should not always be seen as an imperialist force. Wired up by 'dish wallahs'Chacker specialists) motivated by a lack of home grown news and falling prices of equipment, India was shown globalised news by satellite in January 1990: "As US troops assaulted Iraq, the satellite revolution struck India with equal force. Anyone with a 12 foot dish antennae could receive CNN. Among the educated but news starved classes of the subcontinent, the market for up to the minute broadcasts was immediate and enormous." (6) And we can argue that the arrival of CNN in India by this backdoor informed Indians about their own interests more than their o\vn media ever did, the subcontinent being linked by self interest to the Gulf region by decades of oil dependency and an Islamic heritage. Even if we believe that CNN's US slanted coverage makes something of a suspicious or biased cultural relationship, then April 1991 may mark an annulment of such imperialist arguments, Hong Kong based STAR TV broadcasting BBC Asia to India, together with three other channels: "In early December 1992, the BBC's immediate and even handed coverage of India's Hindu Muslim riots ignited yet another mad scramble for hook ups," adds Greenwald.

CNN, with a dish size requirement 9 fcet wider to pick up the signal and less Indian content, fell by the wayside, So, news globalisation is a phenomenon which sees nations made into arenas for competition between large companies based outside of the nation itself. But these companies do battle by offering the most local news, not just MTV and day time soaps. Distinctions are not as clear as they appear... the existence of a network within one, distant nation does not necessarily mean that the nation's ideologies will prevail in its broadcast target area, because satellite spectrum is given over to a multitude of news producers. The BBC, for example, is confident in claiming its ability to produce uniquely Asian content. The news producers' practices, then, are as important as those of the networks, and force a distinction between the two bodies. In fact, as well as International, CNN has also now launched regional channels for Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Asia, Latin America and the US. Indeed, its World Report airs news from local journalists in 130 countries without censorship or editing, and makes it available to affiliate networks, w In this sense, news globalisation is not a force ofhomogenisation, but ofregionalisation: "as the world becomes more universal, it also becomes more tribal. As people yield economic sovereignty, holding on to what distinguishes you from others becomes very important." w Indeed, we also have the national interest factor. Worldwide reach extends coverage to the ends of the Earth, literally; but, it seems, interest extends this far only because citizens of the news producers' own country inevitably wander abroad and end up in "newsworthy' situations. One mark left by globalised news is that, for example, the death of four Britons at the hands of Yemeni terrorists and special forces can dominate news agendas for a week whilst the continuing effects of natural disaster in Central America go unreported... on the world stage now, ongoing stories are not as attractive as one off events involving Brits abroad, and the death of one Briton, it is said, is equal in newsworthiness to that of a hundred foreigners. Whilst television news' reach has extended to the global, its producers' values have broadened little . programme content is still largely motivated by the national. In such a climate, the 'global village' resembles not the mutually understood "entire human family sealed into a global tribe" because our "central nervous system is extended to involve in the whole of mankind and to involve the whole of mankind in us," but a setting in which the exploits of villagers travelling in the global are relayed back home in national self interest. <9) Glohalisation becomes a tool for continued introspection.

And global news is quick. In the past, "you had to make a story that wouldn't be outdated. It would have a shelf life of at least 24 hours if it was going to be shipped and someone might be showing it the following day, which then made you produce a story which had a bit more depth, a bit more perspective, and not the absolute, immediate happening, as is more and more the case today." <10) Immediacy, then, erodes context. The argument is that rolling global news draws the viewer into events for the sheer real time drama of it, rather than asking it to step back and survey the situation to achieve analysis, as one would have done with news bulletins of a shorter turnaround. After all, the broadcaster has spent too much money on transportation and setting up a bureau in, say, Cuba, not to pipe a continuous feed of its citizens fleeing the coast on makeshift rafts to America. We should argue that pithy, yet in depth reports may make better use of such pictures with the illustration used sparingly... the impact of news globalisation's rolling services familiarises the audience with the extraordinary by prolonging the event to justify costs in the name of drama.

But, what other impact has the explosion of expensive global news itself had? Well, not least because of the commercial pressure to fund ever more far reaching bureau and in depth coverage to win audience share in an increasingly crowded marketplace, news organisations seek to appeal to a larger and broader audience which would attract both more subscriber cash and higher paying advertisers. In making news friendlier, the networks have increasingly turned to a phenomenon derided as mis aligned: "Rather than alter their formats or air news at more flexible times in more creative ways [to retain a new audience culture], the networks just kept raiding and trading anchor monsters, paying more and more money for something that was of increasingly dubious value." c11) So, the big news media players have wrongly opted for the popular route in looking to grow bigger, and may have missed out for it. With dozens of similarly funded operations having sprouted up, local cable news outlets adding in a mix of the international to usurp truly global news networks, and an additional threat from the mass availability of alternative international and foreign domestic news providers on worldwide digital networks, the heavyweights are losing audience share, CNN posting, viewers in an average of just 284,000 homes in the USA during the second quarter of 1997, which "barely qualifies the nation's leading cable news network as mainstream media," according to Katz. As commercial globalisation opens up the world's news events, its newsgatherers, networks and audiences in all sorts of contracts, competitions and consolidations, big television news finds its own revenue and goals being eaten away by the process it started all by itself. To run with the example of the Gulf War, which popularised CNN early in the decade, the event of the 1998 Baghdad air strikes marked a significantly differently reported global war event. In addition to CNN, MSNBC, ABC News, BBC World, BBC News24 and other stations piping their television news feeds to live Internet video, the Internet became the epicentre of the episode, serving as television, radio, video, print, memory and discussion and media all in one, and, most importantly, with a reach matching the ethos of 'globalisation of television news' completely. Media users could both track the event and receive secondary analysis via countless web sites and chat rooms, even spying on the bombings with ABC News' live nightscope camera feed or monitoring its own news wire to obtain literally 'up to the minute' reports previously available only to the worldwide journalists themselves. The world's only globalised medium, in transforming the impact of global television news, enables not just a larger audience for Christianne Amanpour reporting from Basra, but also audience engagement with the event: "Create your own web page on the bombing of Iraq and help us create an instant snapshot of reaction around the world." <12) 12,136 globe scattered people were able to talk to an Iraqi journalist in Baghdad's press centre as bombs went off, asking what was going on in real time. "You're getting a constant flow of feedback from the audience you're serving." v") Global news has become organic, fast and personal. That news broadcasters can distribute their material anywhere in the world without the production or legal constraints of traditional broadcasting is, in itself, important for the impact of global news, opening up content glohali.wtion absolutely, whilst not requiring a similarly huge extension ofnewsgathering production capability beyond that already put in place for the core TV business. The new face of world news is one of content plentitude and mass availability of channels outside of their home nations, which forces us to replay new and more concerned imperialism debates, despite the claim that "a quarter of the hits on the CNN home page are from users outside the United States, suggesting that the Internet will be an important part of the network's continuing intemationalisation and global presence." (14)

So, in conclusion, commercialisation coupled with liberalisation in a friendly, worldwide free market extends all forms of news globalisation. The phenomenon is a complex one, with newsgatherers, agencies, wires, exchanges and broadcasters all existing and, increasingly, blending together as the economic imperatives of the media and information sectors' expansion encourage companies to grow bigger and into other areas, where vertical integration enables the development of a strong, proprietary brand. Just as the distinction between types of organisations are not clear cut, neither is the impact of globalisation, since there are many effects. Because there is little consistency in the end result of global news carriership (as illustrated by the simultaneous cultural diversity and locality in the STAR TV example), we can but mention that the cultural impact is varied. Certainly, it is true that the English language dominates globalised news and, as such, it is fair to infer that Western interpretations will often prevail , too. We can also say that commercial imperatives to cut costs have arisen because of news producers' desire to position themselves as global players in order to gain the upper hand when news by new media is finally made profitable. Most of these companies are Western or American. It is worth considering that Ted Turner, when he benevolently speaks of uniting the planet under the banner of global news, is approaching the issue from the privileged position of US economic and political fertility and liberalisation. The issue at hand is whether news globalisation led by America can become truly representative of the world at large, or whether true globalisation must be enabled equally by each nation with fragmentation, and not the concentration of outlets which has existed until now.


1) Freedland, Jonathan (10 Nov, 1997), 'Mr Grow Rides In,' m The Guardian, G2, Profile.' London: Guardian Newspapers. p8. 2) McLuhan, Marshall (Feb, 1998), cited in Wired 6.02.' San Francisco: Wired Magazine Group. p22. 3) Hogan, Joe (Aug. 1996), cited by Floumoy, Don and Stewart, Robert (1997$, 'CNN. Making News in the Global Market' (1997). London: John Libbey. p6. fHogan is senior Vice President for network distribution at Turner International] 4) Walife, Roger and Baran, Stanley in The Known World of Broadcast News,' cited by Noren, Royner in 'Structures and Processes in Global News: Global Hope's in News Transmission.' Ankara: University of Ankara Communications Studies, media.ankara.edu.tr/~erdogan/global.htm 5) van Ginneken, jaap (1998), 'Understanding Giobai News.' London: Sage. p46. [Bourges is a former President of the French public service channels and a central figure in audio visual policy making, writing in Le Monde, 3 Apr, 1991] 6) Greenwald, Jeff (1993), 'Dish WaHahs/ in Wired 1.02.'San Francisco: Wired Magazine Group, also www.wired.com/wu'ed/arohive/l .02! 7) Plournoy, Don (1992), 'CNN World Report: Ted Turner's International News Coup.' London: John Libbey. OBC. 8) Naisbitt, John (1994), in Wired 2.10.'San Francisco: Wired Magazine Group, also www.wired.com/wired/arctwe/2.10/ 9) Mct uhan, Marshall (1962), 'The Gutenberg Galaxy.' p8. (1964), 'Understanding Media: The Extensions of Man.' p4. 10) Noren, Royner in 'Structures and Processes in Giobai News: Global Hopes in News Transmission.' Ankara: University of Ankara Communications Studies, media.ankara.edu.tr/~erdogan/global.htm 11) Katz, Jon (23 Jul, 1997), This Is CNN?'on 'HotWired, Synapse MediaRant.' San Francisco: Wired Digital, www.hotwired.com/synapse/ 12) Blurb in Eedle, Paul (17 Dec, 1998), 'An Iraqi Journalist talks to America as the Bombs Fall'on 'Out There News.' London: AOL, www.uk.aoi.com/channels/news/outthere/98december/1217/sfrong.htm 13) Eedle, Paul, cited by Jones, Christopher (18 Dec, 1998), Distributed Journalism Hits Iraq'on Wired ("veivs.' San Francisco: Wired Digital, www.wiree!.coin''news/news/cu!ture./story.''16933.html [Eedle is Director of Out There News, the interactive news service which ran the live Iraq joumaiism event in conjunction with America On Une] 14) Woeifel, Scott, (Sep. 1996), cited by Fioumoy, Don and Stewart, Robert (1997), 'CNN, Making News in the Global Market' (1997). London: John Libbey. p9. (Woelfel is Vice President of CNN Interactive}
*+) Boyd Barratt, Oliver and Rantanen, Tertii (1998), 'Tha GtoliallzaSon otNsv.'s ' London: Saga. ++) Porlsf. Mark (2 8 Oct 1997), 'Sate/die Wars: Today's news: (hare are too many channels' in "The European.' London: The European Ud. p8.


\ Predominantly English language. ^' Western perspectives? It is said that wholesaler news agencies such as Reuters and AP are 'independent.' What we might assume from the provision of such material to sundry news broadcasters, if audiences do trust television news. is a resultant global consensus of opinion, making the interpretations, presentations and operating and institutional practices of the original journalist and news organisation all the more crucial in determining the credibility of the news, balancing against the ethics of such centralised reportage. On the other hand, it would seem that there are now far too many newsgatherers for such power to be exerted by a global news elite. Whilst the likes ofCNN, Reuters,

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