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Weekly Wire: the Global Forum

Kalliope Kokolis's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Mashable
Mobile Devices will Outnumber People by the End of the Year

“By the end of 2013, there will be more mobile devices on Earth than people, a new report suggests.

According to Cisco's Visual Networking Index Global Mobile Data Traffic Forecast Update, consumers' mobile appetite has grown a lot in the past year, and it shows no signs of slowing. In fact, Cisco predicts global mobile data traffic will increase 13-fold by 2017, with more than 10 billion mobile-connected devices by then. It also believes mobile network speeds will grow by seven times what it is now.”  READ MORE

Bring in the Clowns: Humor in Political Communication

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Late one night in the capitol city a mugger wearing a ski mask jumped into the path of a well-dressed man and stuck a gun in his ribs. "Give me your money!" he demanded. Indignant, the affluent man replied, "You can't do this - I'm a Member of Parliament!" "In that case," replied the robber, "give me MY money!"

Sometimes all you can do when you hear the latest news from the political stages all over the world is – laugh. Actually, laughing is a good thing in politics. Humor has become a major vehicle for political information. Political commentary in late night shows and political comedy have become an important part of political communication. Humor helps to transmit information and messages in a way that dry news formats probably can’t do.

Let's Get Loud: Mobilizing the Silent Majority

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

Ideally, governments and other decision makers should consider public opinion and let it guide them in designing policies that benefit the general public. Problematically, sometimes the opinion of the public simply cannot be heard. Sometimes this happens when a very loud minority drowns out the voices of the silent majority. In such cases, the opinion climate in a society may seem to be more radical than it actually is.

Nixon famously used the term "silent majority" when he appealed for support to what he perceived as the majority of American voters who did not publicly oppose the Vietnam War. He saw this group outclamored by a small but noisy minority that did protest. This was actually a clever strategic argument on Nixon's part. Noelle Neumann's Spiral of Silence, which we have introduced here on this blog, posits that most people would follow the majority because they don't want to be isolated in society. If one opinion is heard more and more often, it may be perceived as majority opinion, even though it isn't. And then, if it's become almost ubiquitous, it might be perceived as majority opinion and people may change their own opinions to fit this "opinion climate." This way, over time and with a lot of help from the media, a minority opinion, for instance an extreme political opinion, may actually become the opinion of the majority.

Keeping Haiti on My Mind

Antonio Lambino's picture

The snow is finally melting in Washington, D.C. and its surrounding areas.  Things seem to be on their way to returning to business as usual. 

We have just gotten through back-to-back blizzards worse than most seen in a century, evidenced in part by the stunned old-timers and record-setting snowfall levels.  That said, what we have recently experienced here is a far cry from the devastation and suffering caused by natural disasters in other parts of the world, such as the recent typhoon in Southeast Asia and earthquake in Haiti.  But that’s not the impression one would take away from the local and national news coverage of these snowstorms.

Rarely warranted hyperbole has become typical in coverage of natural disasters.  Take, for example, what some print and broadcast news outlets named their snowstorm coverage: “Snowmageddon”, “Snowpocalypse”, and “Snowtorius B.I.G.”  Jon Stewart, executive producer and host of Comedy Central’s fake news program The Daily Show, poked fun at these ridiculous appellations.  And quite rightly, I think. 

"Finance isn't a game"

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

The financial crisis has prompted some discussion about the role of the media in this particular recession. From the perspective of accountability that's an interesting question: What if the media become cheerleaders for those they are supposed to hold accountable? According to some reports in the Financial Times earlier this year this has indeed happened this year and last, or, at least, the media has failed it's mandate as watchdog during and leading up to the current financial crisis.