Academic journal article Global Media Journal

New Trends in Global Broadcasting: "Nuestro Norte Es El Sur" (Our North Is the South)

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

New Trends in Global Broadcasting: "Nuestro Norte Es El Sur" (Our North Is the South)

Article excerpt


Using Pierre Bourdieu's Field Theory, especially the concept of the interconvertability of cultural, economic, political and media capital, I examine the rise of regional and global centers of broadcasting that seek to compete with the CNN and the BBC, namely, TeleSUR of Latin America, Al-Jazeera Arabic, and Al-Jazeera International (AI) of Qatar (launched worldwide on November 15, 2006). I also describe the Latin American and Arab questioning of the inevitability of following "the Anglo-Saxon" model of "commercialization, depolitization and trivialization of news."

I examine the countermeasures the U.S., British and French governments are taking to fend off this regional and global competition from Latin American and Arab media.1

I conclude that diversity and the expansion of the news pie is a healthy phenomenon that is bound to help serious news gathering and reporting worldwide against the rising trend of infotainment that has started to taint serious news dissemination in the United States.

"Television is a window on the world. But if you are sitting in Latin America, that window is more likely to be facing Baghdad than Buenes Aires. Or show Michael Jackson instead of Mexico City. Or offer a clearer view of Ukraine's Orange Revolution than the one in Ecuador last month. Those networks do not cover regional news, like CNN Espanol, based in Atlanta, or Spain's TVE, are often considered US or Eurocentric, with pundits sitting in Washington or Madrid. (Harman, 2005, p. 1).

"We launch Telesur with a clear goal to break this communication regime and present a vision, a voice which until now has been silenced. Telesur is an initiative against cultural imperialism." Andres Izarra, TeleSur president and Venzuela's minister of communications (Latin America TV takes on US Media, 2005, p. 1).

"Al-Jazeera International is 'the most exciting television news and current affairs project in decades - one which will revolutionise the global news industry by offering viewers across the world a fresh perspective on news." (Nigel Parsons, managing director of Al-Jazeera International) (A correspondent, 2005, p. 1).


Bourdieu (1998: 41) suggests that for a journalistic field analysis to be complete, "the position of the national media field within the global media field would have to be taken into account." The dissatisfaction with Western news sources has a long history and dates back at least to the era of primacy of Western news agencies on the world news scene. NWICO discussions at UNESCO in the 1970s and 1980s provided "Third World" countries with a forum in which they complained about the unequal flow of information that moved mostly from North to South and from West to East. The impetus for the creation of alternatives to Western media, then, as now, was fueled by dissatisfaction with media's content, its narrow focus, its lack of source diversity and the absence of serious attention to the news of the rest of the world.

Decades later, the problems became worse. In the United States of the mid-1990s, television networks gave much less attention to serious foreign news than during the Cold War years. CBS maintained 24 foreign bureaus in its heyday; by 1995, it had reporters in only four capitals (Hess, 1996, 66). In the 1970s, the networks in the US ran as much as 45% foreign news. By 1995, the proportion was in the teens (Bierbauer, 2006).

American newscasts also tend to be ethnocentric in their selection of news sources. Only 14 of the 401 guests who appeared in "Meet the Press" (NBC), "Face the Nation" (CBS) and "This Week with David Brinkley" (ABC) in 1994 were foreigners (Griffith, 1986, p. 72 in Hess, 1996, p. 7). During the first four months of 1995, foreign stories added up to 10 percent of the news segments, ranging from 3 percent on NBC's "Today" to 16 percent on ABC's "Good Morning America" (Stephen Hess, Telephone Interview with Tyndal on July 11, 1995). …

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