International News Flow Global News Agencies Growing Global Monopolies and their Impact on News NWICO, MacBride Report Non-aligned News Agencies and their downfall
The New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO or NWIO) is a term that was coined in a debate over media representations of the developing world in UNESCO in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The term was widely used by the MacBride Commission, a UNESCO panel chaired by Nobel Prize winner Seán MacBride, which was charged with creation of a set of recommendations to make global media representation more equitable. The MacBride Commission produced a report titled "Many Voices, One World", which outlined the main philosophical points of the New World Information Communication Order.
The American media scholar Wilbur Schramm noted in 1964 that the flow of news among nations is thin, that much attention is given to developed countries and little to less-developed ones, that important events are ignored and reality is distorted. Herbert Schiller observed in 1969 that developing countries had little meaningful input into decisions about radio frequency allocations for satellites at a key meeting in Geneva in 1963. Intelsat which was set up for international co-operation in satellite communication, was also dominated by the United States. In the 1970s these and other issues were taken up by the Non-Aligned Movement and debated within the United Nations and UNESCO.
NWICO grew out of the New International Economic Order of 1974. The New International Economic Order (NIEO) was a set of proposals put forward during the 1970s by developing countries through theUnited Nations Conference on Trade and Development to promote their interests by improving their terms of trade. From 1976-1978, the New World Information and Communication Order was generally called the shorter New World Information Order or the New International Information Order. Associated with the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) starting from the early 1970s. Mass media concerns began with the meeting of non-aligned nations in Algiers, 1973; again in Tunis1976, and later in 1976 at the New Delhi Ministerial Conference of Non-Aligned Nations.
The movement was kept alive through the 1980s by meetings of the MacBride Round Table on Communication, even though by then the leadership of UNESCO distanced itself from its ideas. The UNESCO Convention on Cultural Diversity of 2005 puts into effect some of the goals of NWICO, especially with regard to the unbalanced global flow of mass media. Not supported by the USA unlike the WTO.
A wide range of issues were raised as part of NWICO discussions. Some of these involved long-standing issues of media coverage of the developing world and unbalanced flows of media influence. Other issues involved new technologies with important military and commercial uses. The developing world was likely to be marginalized by satellite and computer technologies.
The issue of four major global agencies based in New York, London and Paris controlling the world-wide flow of information. Their reportage of the ‘other world’ was limited to coups, natural disasters and wars. 80% of the world’s news flow was controlled by these agencies. An unbalanced flow of mass media from the developed world (especially the United States) to the underdeveloped countries. Everyone watches American movies and television shows.
Advertising agencies from the developed countries, through the messages in their ads send profound messages to the underdeveloped world. In a way this was a cultural invasion and cultural imperialism, because the control of the flow of these advertisements was again, with the major agencies from the western – developed world. Some of the messages were also considered as inappropriate for the third world.
The radio spectrum too was controlled by the developed countries. In fact 90% of the radio spectrum was controlled by a few countries, most of it for military use. The allocation of space for geostationary orbits for satellites was also a major issue. Developing countries did not have the capability of launching their own satellites. The problem of lack of space for future satellite launches was a major problem area.
Satellite broadcasting of television signals into Third World countries without prior permission was widely perceived as a threat to national sovereignty. The UN voted in the early 1970s against such broadcasts. Use of satellites to collect information on crops and natural resources in the Third World at a time when most developing countries lacked the capacity to analyse this data.
At the time most mainframe computers were located in the United States and there were concerns about the location of databases (such as airline reservations) and the difficulty of developing countries catching up with the US lead in computers. The protection of journalists from violence was raised as an issue for discussion. For example, journalists were targeted by various military dictatorships in Latin America in the 1970s. As part of NWICO debates there were suggestions for study on how to protect journalists and even to discipline journalists who broke "generally recognized ethical standards". However, the MacBride Commission specifically came out against the idea of licensing journalists.
The MacBride Commission The International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, known as the ’MacBride Commission’, was appointed to study all manner of problems of communication in the world. One of its chief tasks was to analyse communication problems, in their different aspects, within the perspective of the establishment of a new international economic order and of the measures to be taken to foster the institution of a “new world information order”. (UNESCO Work Plan for 1977-1978, 19C/5 Approved § 4155)
UNESCO used the concept of a “world information order” rather than an “international information order”. The change in wording was made on the initiative of the Western countries, who wished to make the connection to the demand for a new economic order less explicit. The word “international” connotes relations among nations, whereas “world” prompts associations to global cooperation more generally, with concepts like “the global village” and “world government”
Director-General M’Bow formulated the Commission’s brief or terms of reference in four points: (a) to study the current situation in the fields of communication and information and to identify problems which call for fresh action at the national level and a concerted, overall approach at the international level. The analysis of the state of communication in the world today, and particularly of information problems as a whole, should take account of the diversity of socio-economic conditions and levels and types of development; (b) to pay particular attention to problems relating to the free and balanced flow of information in the world, as well as the specific needs of developing countries, in accordance with the decisions of the General Conference; 14
(c) to analyse communication problems, in their different aspects, within the perspective of the establishment of a new international economic order and of the measures to be taken to foster the institution of a ’new world information order’; (d) to define the role which communication might play in making public opinion aware of the major problems besetting the world, in sensitizing it to these problems and helping gradually to solve them by concerted action at the national and international levels. (Many Voices, One World, p 42)
One of the countries, China, refused to be a part of the Commission. Nothing like this on this scale had ever happened before. The studies ranged from conceptual analyses to statistical compendia, surveys of national media legislation, and bibliographies. They were reported in roughly 100 publications. Thus, the MacBride Commission had a major impact on scholarship pertaining to international communication, as well.
The volume consists of five parts. The first four report the findings of studies in four areas: 1) “Communication and Society” (historical and contemporary perspectives and the international dimension), 2) “Communication Today” (means of communication, expanding infrastructures, concentration, interaction, participants, disparities), 3) “Problems and Issues of Common Concern” (flaws in communication flows, dominance in communication contents, democratization of communication, images of the world, the public and public opinion),
4) “The Institutional and Professional Framework” (communication policies, material resources, research contributions, the professional communicators, rights and responsibilities of journalists, norms of professional conduct). The Commission had the ambition to treat their subjects from historical, socio-economic, cultural and political perspectives. The report treats all kinds of information and communication, from interpersonal communication to mass communication and digital communication from local, national and international points of view. The fifth part of the book, “Conclusions and Recommendations” offers some eighty policy recommendations of problems studied.
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Third World is a categorical label used to describe states that are considered to be underdeveloped in terms of their economy or level of industrialization, globalization, standard of living, health, education or other criteria for 'advancements'. The name Third World arose during the Cold War to refer to nations that did not belong to the similarly termed "First" or "Second Worlds". There is debate over the appropriateness of the term.
First (blue), Second (red), and the Third World (green) countries during the Cold War (1946-90)
It has also sometimes been interpreted as a pejorative term - especially when used by citizens of erstwhile First and Second World countries. For example, in November 2008, Australian cricketer Matthew Hayden came under strong criticism in India for using the term. Back home in Australia after a 2-0 series defeat by India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, Hayden spoke about, what he perceived as, poor ground conditions and inordinate delays during matches "that happens in Third World countries"
The New World Information Order raised fundamental issues about the Freedom of Press, esp. the Western Press. The Third World countries directed at what they percieved as inequities in the flows of information, news and communication technologies. They believed that there was overtly negative reporting on their internal contitions and policies. The United States, on the other hand, saw the demands for a new world information order as a direct threat to the American principal of a free press and to access for US media organisations to developing countries. Major media organisations were mobilised to fight the initiative.
Until the mid-1960s, the focus of debate in UNESCO was about the free flow of information and use of mass media to build ‘modern’ societies in the Third World. However, with the New World Information Order, it changed from just ‘free flow’ to the overwhelming dominance of the Western mass media and news agencies. The Western press and the Western news agencies were now charged with cultural dominance and imperialism. They preferred that the Western news agencies and media display the positive news disseminated by the Third World government agencies.
They charged that the information about the Third World countries emphasised theur fragility, instability and corruption and suggesed that the economic imbalances stemmed NOT from European colonialism and neo-colonial forces, but from their own inability to sustain development. Third World countries argued that the distorted, negative treatment of their problems in the media neglected facts and real issues facing their nations and impeded their attempts to develop. The Third World felt that there was a neeed for global change in telecommunications, news flows, intellectual property rights and international advertising.
D. R. Mankekar, former chairman of the Coordinating Committee of the Non-Aligned Countries’ Press Agencies Pool express Third World views of the western domination of the news quite clearly: They [the West] fail to realise that their obduracy is being construed by the Third World as a disguised attempt to tighten on them the grip of colonialist hegemony through Western media in the name of freedom of information.
Western control over the flow of information, then, constituted a form of colonialism in the eyes of the Third World, and thus represented a direct threat to the national sovereignty of developing nations.
Africa in the Western Media Paper presented at the Sixth Annual African Studies Consortium Workshop, October 02, 1998)byRod Chavis
Western Media organizations employ to specifically dump negative news materials and information when reporting, communicating, or disseminating anything concerning Africa. the U.S. consumes about 60% of the world's resources but has only a fraction (4.1 %) of the world's population.
With the stroke of a journalist's pen, the African, her continent, and her descendants are pejoratively reduced to nothing: a bastion of disease, savagery, animism, pestilence, war, famine, despotism, primitivism, poverty, and ubiquitous images of children, flies in their food and faces, their stomachs distended.
For a long time a myth has been spread in India (and many other countries in the world) that certain sections of the Western media, particularly the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) which is hailed as a trail-blazing ‘independent’ organisation, report every major development objectively and fairly.
True to their up and down form, one again Indo-Pak relations appear to be heading south with the Pakistani strongman deciding to open another ‘front’ against India. India has been accused of violating the 1960 World Bank brokered Indus Water Treaty by constructing a dam on Chenab in Jammu and Kashmir and that it would ‘deprive’ the farmers in Pakistan’s part of Punjab of irrigation from that river. However, the point is that the BBC and many other prominent Western newspapers and airwaves reported the Baglihar talks almost entirely based on what the Pakistanis said. The only pretence of ‘balancing’ the Baglihar story was to add a phrase that ‘India denies the (Pakistani) charge (of violation of the Indus Water Treaty)’. The treaty allows waters from three rivers to flow into Pakistan while giving India the exclusive rights over two other rivers flowing from Kashmir. How has the Western media assumed that India has no case in Baglihar?
The violation of the (14-month long) ceasefire along the Line of Control in Jammu and Kashmir by Pakistani troops was a serious matter. But the reports carried in the Western media could well have been a straight copy from what the Pakistani government handout said: ‘utterly baseless’ (the Indian charge). The incident was sketchily reported a day after it occurred but most of the Western media relied on the version put out by Islamabad, which, expectedly, denied the role of its troops. The Western media bought the ridiculous Pakistani statement that they heard some ‘loud explosions’ along the LoC but could not say who was responsible. The Pakistanis were not asked to comment how 60 mm and 82 mm mortar shells used by the Pakistani army were found some 15 km inside the Indian side of the LoC. Some foreign channels even tried to link the mortar shelling to the Baglihar controversy and suggesting that the ‘explosion’ came from the Indian side as no casualty was reported by India.
Take the tsunami tragedy. That initial reports concentrated on losses in Indonesia and barely mentioned that India was among the countries affected by the tsunami waves. But that was perhaps a pardonable ‘miss’ as the full scale of devastation caused by a huge natural disaster of the type that hit parts of South and South-east Asia on December 26, 2004 is not known immediately. By the time the losses in India were relayed to the world, the Western media started to turn its focus on how shabby the Indian relief and rehabilitation efforts were as though elsewhere everything was going fine. There is little to doubt that the reason for the Western ire against India was the result of India refusing to accept aid from the rich Western world who are more used to seeing sights of supplicating Third World nations, especially when in distress, lining up for ‘alms’. The Indian High Commissioner in the UK was grilled for half an hour over the BBC with the anchor going round in circles in trying to get His Excellency to admit that the relief efforts by Indians have been a disaster and it was a mistake to have turned down Western help.
FEAR plays a great role in the Western Media’s approach to the Third World Iraq, Afghanistan, Bin Laden and previously Saddam Hussein plays on the minds of the Western public.
So what are the challenges faced by international journalists? The first challenge is to get started in the field. Most of the times, journalists are not well versed with foreign affairs. They have to move past the culture shock and confusing situations to become knowledgeable. Most journalists prefer learning from scratch than arriving at the foreign location with preconceived notions.
The second challenge is developing personal relationship, family. Common to both, parachute journalists and immersion journalists. They manage by either taking the family to their place of assignment, or let the spouse bear the responsibility of the family.
The third obstacle is that of stress and burnout. Decades of living away from home, away from the family, meeting deadline after deadline takes the toll. Hence, shifting jobs or place of work becomes more of a necessity to maintain ones sanity.
The fourth challenge is the gender and racial bias faced by female and minority journalists while working overseas. Interestingly, representatives of both groups said their minority status was more of a help than a hindrance in reporting, and aided them to either gain the trust of sources in international situations or to catch them off guard.
And the fifth challenge is simply how best to tell a story. Both print and broadcast journalists debate which is better — colorful feature writing or concise, factual accounts of the news. In the end it seems a mix of the two is best for capturing the attention of the audience.
The hunger for more news is increasingly satisfied by the websites. More and more people tend to prefer the internet over newspapers for learning about what is going on abroad. Even when there are thousands of correspondents abroad, are there enough of them? The answer is no.
Only 6% of Americans could answer 5 basic questions about the world, while 37% of them could not answer any of them. This clearly shows how much the Western world is interested in knowing about the Third World. Overall the US performed the words among the eight developed countries. Even though channels like CNN has actually increased the number of correspondents abroad, more and more media organisations now rely on the news wire services to fill up their ‘World News’ columns.
In television news, Hess found that: “…no country, with the possible exception of Russia, was explained and presented coherently enough so that attentive viewers could believe they understood how life was lived there. The narrow span of TV foreign news, largely government related and driven by events, differed markedly from the broader and more balanced array of subjects in domestic news. International environmental problems, education, science and the arts were rarely mentioned. Half the world’s 180 or so countries were never noted.”
Correspondents both veteran and novice gleefully tell stories of escaping bullets and bombs, of meeting world leaders, of wandering into forbidden places and facing unpredictable situations. Reporting from a foreign country is a thrilling challenge for any journalist, but the initial confusion and personal isolation felt when thrown into an unfamiliar situation can be daunting. These obstacles affect both parachute and immersion journalists.
Parachute journalists, or “firefighters,” leap from crisis to crisis across the globe to cover the story of the hour as fast as possible. They may find themselves in the Middle East one day and Moscow the next, or pulled suddenly from a war situation to cover an earthquake on the other side of the globe. In exchange for this exciting lifestyle, parachutists sacrifice stability in their lives and often lack advanced understanding of the situations in which they find themselves. Immersion journalists, on the other hand, I defined for the purposes of this thesis as those who remain in a single region for a year or more. They may stay in a country for decades, learning the language and culture and filing news stories from their home bureau.
In reporting on the day’s events, journalists rely most fundamentally on two key relationships: the relationship with their news sources and with their audiences. These relationships are most fundamental for at least three reasons. First, without reliable sources, a journalist cannot get the facts needed to prepare the story. Second, without an audience, there is no point in telling the story. Third, and most important, maintaining integrity in the relationships between journalists, their sources and their audiences is fundamental to establishing and maintaining the credibility, or believability, of journalism, the only real value a journalist has.
When the integrity of the reporter-source-audience relationship is violated, not only does the individual journalist suffer, but the credibility of the entire news organisation or even institution is damaged. Jayson Blair, who, as the Times(2003) itself admits, ’fabricated comments, concocted scenes and lifted material from other newspapers and wire services’
The reporter who gets too close to a source can sometimes fail to ask the tough question, the question that needs to be asked ... and answered to fully inform the public. Convergence is transforming the reporter-source relationship, partly by introducing more technology into the equation.
The scenario prior to convergence Telephone – to set up interviews Sense of the tone? Fax, teleprinter? Some sources deluge reporters with written communication, including press releases, but most reporters generally disregard or discount this type of communication as public relations.