The Troubles of Journalism: A Critical Look at What's Right and Wrong with the Press

By William A. Hachten | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 2
Global Impact of American Media

Mankind has become one, but not steadfastly one as communities or nations used to be, nor united through years of mutual experience. . . . nor yet through a common native language, but surpassing all barriers, through international broadcasting and printing.

-- Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Most Americans who keep up with the news are unaware of the influence and reach of American journalism beyond the borders of their nation. During the past 50 years, the U.S. news media, in doing their basic job of reporting the news for local audiences, have participated in and helped shape a world that is economically more interdependent while being, since the end of the Cold War, more politically fractured and threatening.

In addition to American-generated news in print and broadcasting, our movies, pop music, television programs, and lifestyles have penetrated the minds and cultures of European and non-Western people with tremendous impact. With results both positive and negative, transnational communication is undeniably evolving toward a single, integrated global communication system that espouses free, independent journalism as well as favors market economies and Western popular culture. As seen later, the current wave of major media mergers can be viewed in part as corporate strategies to better compete for overseas markets and profits in both entertainment and news.

The enhanced ability of Western journalism ( Britain and other industrial democracies contribute as well) to report quickly and fully on global crises and trends enables leaders of nation states, the United Nations, and business and nongovernment organizations to respond to such challenges. News media can and do alert nations to a kaleidoscope of such dangers as environmental disasters, changing facets of terrorism, human

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