Monday, November 20, 2006

America's media bubble - The Boston Globe

David Seaton's News Links
America's communications industry where the news, entertainment and political conglomerates are so totally mixed is probably the United States' most powerful tool of world domination.
The loss of its magical power to create and tell and weave the universal "story", is even more debilitating to American hegemony than nuclear proliferation. DS
Abstract: The United States no longer controls the script. That's a reality Democratic congressional leaders must digest as they seek to recast America's relationship with the world. There used to be a time when the U.S. media wrote the global narrative. The world saw itself through a largely American camera lens. No more. The launch last week of Al Jazeera International, the English-speaking cousin to the channel the Bush administration loves to hate, is just the latest reminder of that. U.S. foreign policy is being reflected through a blinding array of prisms. Yet America continues to pursue an analogue communications strategy in a digital age. Just look at the satellite landscape. Here in the Middle East, we can watch more than 300 channels, from Hezbollah's Al Manar (labeled a terrorist organization by the United States) to Fox News (which, to borrow Fox's favorite line, "some people say" is the moral equivalent).(...) Even more important , every statement, every offhand comment is reported instantly. Live. 24/7. There is no place to hide. No such thing as Davos rules. Just ask the pope. Like politics, all policy is local. It's no longer just about how it plays in Peoria. There's also Peshawar and Pretoria. American officials can no longer say one thing and do another. Television footage of babies killed with U.S. ordinance has far more influence on perceptions of policy than all the feel-good speeches aimed at the heartland. Ditto images of the president in front of a huge cross at a gathering of evangelical groups. Who says it's not a Christian war on Islam? Don't underestimate the audience. They are media- savvy. Take the Thai cleric who said the Saddam Hussein verdict was timed to affect U.S. "domestic politics." And he's 2,000 miles from the Middle East. Imagine what Arabs were thinking. Yet American officials who should know better still don't get it. A U.S. public diplomacy official involved in communicating with the Muslim world recently asked me if there were Arab blogs. Only hundreds - and they are changing the face of Arab politics. READ IT ALL

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