The Search for Global
Global news media have contributed to a world where we are confronted with the faces of Others we will never meet. Although the interconnections between people in a globalized world are often overstated, it is hard not to agree with Zygmunt Bauman when he speaks of “being aware of the pain, misery and suffering of countless people whom we will never meet in person.”1 In today’s globalized world, news media have brought distant people closer, and the media confront us with a moral responsibility for how we will represent and relate to those faraway others.
News media are all around us—they have become “environmental” in the contemporary world, as Roger Silverstone argues.2 This certainly is true for societies in the developed world, where news media have saturated almost every part of individual and community life. But the global reach of journalism can also be exaggerated. While societies in the developed world are awash with news media in an ever-increasing range of formats and shapes, many areas of the developing world do not enjoy the same level of access to news media. There are many reasons for this lack, including poor infrastructure, illiteracy, authoritarian governments, and poverty. However, even for societies where media are not as pervasive, the implications of forming part of a world that is hyper-mediated remain important. These implications are even more significant for those who live on the outskirts of the mediated world-city—or the “mediapolis” as Silverstone calls it3—because they are affected by, but do not participate in casting, the global media gaze.
The role journalism plays in this media-saturated world also varies considerably. While developed countries are seeing an ongoing reshaping of what counts as journalism or a journalist, developing regions often struggle just to establish a journalistic presence.