Robyn Caplan is one of ten 2015 Milton Wolf Emerging Scholar Fellows, an accomplished group of doctoral and advanced MA candidates selected to attend the 2015 Milton Wolf Seminar. Their posts highlight critical themes and on-going debates raised during the 2015 Seminar. In this blog post, the evolving relationships between social and traditional media and between politics and information policy regimes are reviewed.
In the last year, questions about the roles that both non-traditional and traditional media play in the filtering of geopolitical events and policy have begun to increase. Though traditional sources such as The New York Times retain their influence, social media platforms and other online information sources are becoming the main channels through which news and information is produced and circulated. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, Weibo, and other micro-blogging services bring the news directly to the people. According to a study by Parse.ly, the era of searching for information is ending—fewer referrals to news sites are coming from Google, with the difference in traffic made up by social media networks (McGee, 2014; Napoli, 2014).
It isn’t just news organizations that are finding greater success online. Heads of state—most famously President Obama—have used social networks to reach a younger generation that has moved away from traditional media. This shift, which began as a gradual adoption by state and public officials over the last several years, is quickly gaining speed. Iranian politicians, such as President Rouhani, have also taken to Twitter, a medium still banned in their own country. The low barriers to entry and high potential return make social media an ideal space for geopolitical actors to experiment with their communications strategies. ISIS, for example, has developed a skillful social media strategy over the last few years, building up a large following (which emerged out of both shock and awe) with whom they can now communicate directly (Morgan, 2015, p. 2). As more information is disseminated through these platforms, considering the role that technological and algorithmic design has on geopolitics is increasingly important.
New developments and curiosities from a changing global media landscape: People, Spaces, Deliberation brings trends and events to your attention that illustrate that tomorrow's media environment will look very different from today's, and will have little resemblance to yesterday's.
When the internet first emerged as a medium (and still often today), digital and non-digital communication were separated into different silos within an organization. While this distinction has blurred for many, new distinctions based on revenue have developed: paid, earned, and owned media.
Paid media is often considered to be ‘traditional advertising’ and includes ads, paid search marketing, ‘pay per click’ advertising, and sponsorships. It usually involves targeting specific audiences in order to create brand awareness or develop new customers. Owned media is the content that an organization creates itself and includes an organization's website, blog posts, email newsletters, and social media. It usually involves targeting an organization’s existing community or current customers.
Earned media is the result of public relations and media outreach, ad campaigns, events, and other content that is created through an organization’s owned media. Brands may hire a PR firm to reach out to the media, influencers may pitch or demoralize a brand on TV and social media, and consumers may talk about an organization on social media or in product reviews.
At the same time, media companies in some Latin American countries continue to battle governments for greater influence of programming. New communications laws, cross-media publishing, and mergers among media companies further contribute to the dynamic relationships among media, governments and citizens.
With so much variation among countries regarding both the role that media play in democratic processes as well as how citizens access different platforms, it can be hard to outline major trends.
We put two questions to Professor Silvio Waisbord of George Washington University:
- How has the concentration of media in Latin America changed over time?
- Is traditional media in Latin America still important?
Just read a prescient New Yorker blog post on the sudden proliferation of plans for in-house Wikileaks-style operations at major media outlets. Al Jazeera started this trend with its "Transparency Unit," and the New York Times is now said to be developing something similar. It can't be long before others jump on the bandwagon. Author Raffi Khatchadourian (who authored this New Yorker profile of Julian Assange last year) does a nice job of attempting to map the just-emerging implications of this (possible) trend. Says Khatchadourian: "If the WikiLeaks model were to grow beyond WikiLeaks - much in the way social networking outgrew its earliest online incarnations - and develop more fully within the ambit of conventional media, it is likely that it would change in a way that reflects the different sources of authority that a stateless publisher and a conventional news organization each draw upon."
Since the last post about Wikileaks on this blog, the site has drawn the world's attention with its release of nearly 100,000 classified military documents from the U.S. war in Afghanistan. Commentators have lined up on multiple sides, alternatively praising the site for its commitment to open information, condemning its disregard for troop security, or bemoaning the lack of explanatory discourse surrounding the data. Andrew Exum, who served in Afghanistan, criticizes the site's fusion of activism and journalism, while my friend Jeremy Wagstaff thinks that it both shows up the traditional media and points the way toward a fundamental re-imagining of journalism itself.
Think the traditional news business is dying? Consider Japan, says a New York Times article describing the country's vibrant traditional media sector and moribund digital news startups. OhMyNews, a hugely popular South Korean citizen-journalism site that flopped in Japan, is cited as one example of how digital news culture has awkwardly mapped onto a Japanese context. Interestingly, some quoted in the article hypothesize that countries with more deep-seated social and political divisions may take to digital news media more easily than those without.
For those who are in despair over the future of journalism and other forms of information intermediation in the new digital age, it is worth reading what Eric Schmidt, the Chairman and CEO of Google , said to Fareed Zakaria of CNN on November 29, 2009:
"ZAKARIA: When you look forward, do you think -- when you look forward, what are the great moral issues that you think we will face with all this information, all this access? What should we be thinking about in terms of the conflicts, the tradeoffs?