United States Still the World's Essay

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Models of Media and Politics

A review of media / political models sheds some light on why the United States' cultural themes have been such a dominant dynamic in Europe, among other global venues. In describing the three models of media and politics, Daniel C. Hallin and Paolo Mancini report that the media in Southern Europe (the "Mediterranean" or "Polarized Pluralist Model") is "an institution of the political and literary worlds" more than it is market-driven (Hallin, et al., 2004 90). The North and Central European model is called the "Democratic Corporatist Model" -- and is certainly more market-driven and far less politically driven; and the third model is the "North Atlantic" or "Liberal model" of media and politics (Hallin 87).

The North Atlantic or Democratic Corporatist model, according to Mark a. Baker II encompasses Germany, Austria, Switzerland, the "Low Countries" and Scandinavia, and can be broken down into three characteristics. These three -- Baker calls the "Three Coexistences" -- help define Hallin's original conceptual model. In the first "coexistence" there is a "high degree of parallelism with a strong mass circulation press" (Baker, 2010 2).

The media in these nations frequently express "partisan and social divisions," Baker writes. The second coexistence is the impressive and "high level" of "journalistic professionalism"; and the third is based on the strong commitment to freedom of the press and that the press is entirely autonomous from the state (Baker, 2). On the subject of freedom of the press, Baker refers to Hallin's model and recalls that in 1776 the Swedish Constitution recognized freedom of the press and as time as passed there has been the "rise of mass literacy" which has its roots in the Protestant Reformation (and hence, Martin Luther's name is prominent in this discussion) (2). Once the Aristocracy and Catholic Church no longer controlled knowledge and authority, Baker asserts, mass literacy and the mass market press exploded in these societies.

The third media model, the "North Atlantic" or "Liberal Model," is really the only model that has been thoroughly analyzed in the critical, scholarly press. That model covers Canada, the UK, the U.S., and other Western cultures. There are "substantial differences though between the United States -- a "purer example of a liberal system" -- and Britain, "where statist conservatism, liberal corporatism, and social democracy have been stronger than in the U.S." (Hallin 230).

In reviewing Hallin's critique of these three media and political models it is not clear whether any of the three -- or the three together -- could blunt the juggernaut of American media's continuing influence and potency in Europe or elsewhere. That of course wasn't the purpose of Hallin's research, but in reading through his models one can easily discern why the American media -- commercial TV, print, movies and electronic media -- has made easy inroads into Europe and remains powerfully influential, and a force to be reckoned with.

It seems that what happens to media and politics in the U.S. ends up happening elsewhere. Whether that is due to the saturation of U.S. political, entertainment and media culture into Europe and Asia or not, Hallin (3) reports that media coverage of politicians in the U.S. has "…become increasingly negative over the past few decades" and the trend is "virtually universal across Western democracies."

CNN / CNN International -- American Perspective & Culture Flowing Freely

The extraordinary success of the Cable News Network nationally and internationally in itself is part of the answer to the thesis question posed at the outset of this paper: Indeed, U.S. corporate media companies continue to be the dominant media economy. The advent of the Internet has changed the way millions of people get their news and other information, and the ability to gain instant access to online news -- from anywhere on the planet at any moment -- has truly been a revolution in communication and has, at the same time, the tables on print media. Newspapers (especially in the U.S.) are on the shrinking side of the ledger as their revenue has been cut drastically because people are getting their news online.

Meanwhile, the Cable News Network (CNN) has been in the forefront of online content for perhaps longer than most other media sources, certainly those abroad. Jacob Groshek writes in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media that the online versions of CNN and CNN International are "remarkably consistent in telling audiences in America and abroad what to think about" (Groshek 2008 52). Telling people what to think about has a "big brother" sound to it but that is what major media outlets strive to do, and CNN is happy to be consistent with other media in that regard.

Groshek's research shows that the CNN.com online content for the most part mirrors what CNN's television news programs. CNN TV programs have 72 million "unique viewers per month" in the U.S. And CNN.com boasts 24 million "original U.S. news user" monthly (as of 2006) in the U.S. (Groshek 54). As regards CNN International (as of 2006) was distributed to over 198 million households around the world and "…is the leading international news network in terms of viewership by almost 25%" (Groshek 54). CNN International has had "the largest broadcast news audience in Asia for the last 10 years" and moreover, CNN.com was visited by 70% more Asian respondents in a month than its nearest competitor, Groshek reports (54).

In the Middle East and Africa, CNN's Web presence receives 19 million "combined page visits per month; in Latin America, CNN's online site gets 16 million page visits monthly; in Europe, CNN.com records over 90 million page visits per month (Groshek 54). A feather in CNN's cap is the fact that in Asia, Groshek explains on page 55, CNN International is "generally equivalent to that of Channel News Asia -- a company staffed by Asians with a news format directed at Asians.

Does the aforementioned four paragraphs lead to the impression that U.S. media corporations are losing their audience internationally -- or being beaten by rivals in other countries? Certainly, there can be disagreements on this matter, but the overwhelming evidence continues to show that U.S. media -- albeit the global image of the country has taken a hit especially during the Bush presidency -- dominates the world media stage. As Tim Arango explains in the New York Times: a) the American TV show "CSI" is more popular in France than in the U.S.; b) movies produced in Hollywood sell "far more tickets" abroad than in the U.S.; c) a Russian remake of the American TV sitcom "Married With Children" has been so wildly popular that the producer of the show, Sony, hired back "…the original writers to produce new scripts for Russia" (Arango, 2008 1).

Conclusion

In Nancy Snow's latest book, Propaganda Inc.: Selling America's Culture to the World, 3rd Edition, she takes great pains to discuss the reasons for -- and the duties of -- the United States Information Agency (USIA), essentially the official American government's propaganda machine. When one considers the enormous global impact of American commercial media -- in addition to the $55 million budget of USIA's propaganda, Snow's remark on page 92 seems entirely apt: "America is now the Schwarzenegger of international politics: showing off muscles, obtrusive, intimidating…never before has a country dominated the earth so totally as the United States does today. Globalization wears a 'Made in the U.S.A.' label" (Snow 2010 92).

Bibliography

Arango, Tim, 2008, 'World Falls for American Media, Even as it Sours on America. The New York Times, Retrieved Nov. 24, 2010, from http://www.nytimes.com.

Artz, Lee, and Kamalipour, Yahya, 2007, the Media Globe: Trends in International Mass Media. Rowman & Littlefield: Landham, MD.

Baker, Mark a., 2010, 'Hallin & Mancini, the North / Central European or Democratic Corporatist Model by: Mark a. Baker II', Global Media. Retrieved Nov. 24, 2010, from http://globalmediastudies.blogspot.com.

Hallin, Daniel C., and Mancini, Paolo, 2004, Comparing Media Systems: Three Models of Media and Politics. Cambridge University Press: New York.

Groshek, Jacob, 2008, 'Homogenous Agendas, Disparate Frames: CNN and CNN International Coverage Online. Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, Vol. 52, No. 1, 52-68.

Ma, Eric Kit-wai, 2000, 'Rethinking Media Studies,' in De-Westernizing Media Studies, eds. M. Park and J. Curran. Psychology Press: East Sussex, UK.

Rampal, Kuldip R., 2007, 'Asia: The Hollywood Factor,' in the Media Globe: Trends in International Mass Media, eds. L. Artz and Y. Kamalipour, Rowman & Littlefield: Landham, MD.

Snow, Nancy, 2007, the Arrogance of American Power: What U.S. Leaders are Doing Wrong and why it's Our Duty to Dissent. Rowman & Littlefield: Landham, MD.

Snow, Nancy, 2010, Propaganda Inc.: Selling America's Culture to the World, 3rd Edition. New York: Seven Stories…[continue]

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