Global Media

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    • 00:11

      VIAN BAKIR: I'm Dr. Vian Bakir from the University of Bangor.I'm senior lecturer in journalism.The point of this tutorial is to introduce youto the concept of how free the news actually is globallyaround the world.Also to look at issues of resistance to censorship.And finally, to examine issues of community, to what extentdoes the news create a sense of us versus them.

    • 00:41

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: News around the globe is not particularly free.There's a graphic I want to show you,which shows the color-coded variations of howfree the news is around the world.Yellow is satisfactory, white is good,red is a difficult situation, and black is very serious.And if you look at the graphic, you'llsee that even America and Britain are actuallyonly yellow, which is actually just satisfactory.

    • 01:09

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: They're not good.So if you think about the news from your own countries,you might think it's amongst the best in the world.It isn't, actually.This graphic is compiled by Reporters Sans Frontieres.And they call it the Freedom of the Press Index worldwide.They've done it every year for the past decade, pretty much.

    • 01:32

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: And what they do is they send a questionnaireto all sorts of partner organizationsaround the world like journalistsand human rights activists and other such people.And they basically ask them a seriesof questions, 43 questions, specifically.And it's worth just having a brief lookat what some of those questions are because it tells youwhy we're in this situation.

    • 01:54

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: These criteria basically reflect every sort of violationthat a journalist might encounter.It's things like, are the authoritiesever held to account, or do they just operate with impunity?Are journalists murdered or commonly harassed or harangued?

    • 02:15

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: What is the degree of self-censorship going on here?Is there a culture of intimidation and fearwhere journalists feel they really can't tell youwhat is actually happening for fear of what might happento them or their families or their careers?It includes things like, what's the legal framework like?Are there any institutions in placethat actually support journalistswhen they want to hold the state to account, for instance,or powerful corporations to account?

    • 02:45

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: Or are the judges corrupt?It looks at things like, what arefreedom of expression laws like?Do they even exist?It looks at things like, what sorts of thingscan't be said ever?What are the taboos?So if you look at Middle Eastern news, and a lot of the MiddleEast is in a serious or difficult situation.

    • 03:07

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: This regards this Freedom of the Press Index.There are all sorts of taboos in Middle Eastern news.And Middle Eastern journalists would nevercover criticism of the regime, for instance.Anything that touches on cultural codesor sexual codes that can't be talked about.Anything that smacks of oppositionto what the government, or the regime, as it's usually called,would like the people to say or think.

    • 03:35

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: Religious opposition in particularis frowned upon very much because religionis a big flashpoint in the Middle East,and many of the people there are highly religious.So journalists have to be very careful about the sortsof Islamic political opposition voicesthat they allow to be broadcast.

    • 03:57

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: And frequently, none are allowed at all.So it's all these sorts of things, really, thatmake up the Press Freedom Index.It's very comprehensive.It goes from the extreme to what might almostbe seen as the invisible constraints on journalistsand what they may or may not report upon.The map will show you where the most extreme pressviolations occur.

    • 04:21

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: And it's places like China, like North Korea,patches of the Middle East, Syria,patches of Africa as well, Somalia.It tends to be countries which arein a state of civil war, many of these, where it's justextremely dangerous to operate as a foreign journalistor as a home journalist independent of the government.

    • 04:46

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: Maybe there is no government, or the government is collapsing.So Syria, for instance, a particularly difficultplace to report from at the momentand has been for a few years.The other extreme of that, I suppose,is total control where you have an authoritarian regime, whichjust really effectively and strictly and tightly controlsits news media.

    • 05:11

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: And China, North Korea, these are the placesthat come to mind with this.So it's two extremes, really, from total chaosto total control, neither of whichare particularly conducive to good journalism.

    • 05:32

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: The function of the press, I think and many journalistswould think, is to expose abuses of power.It's to actually act as a sort of transparency mechanism.Without a press, without a free press,there's no holding people to account.There's no holding those in power to account.

    • 05:53

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: And when people in power don't have that potential checkon their actions, they're human beings.They're probably going to do what the hell they like.Time and time again, history shows this.Massive abuses of human rights, political rights,the right to make a living.

    • 06:15

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: All these things happen in countries without a free press.Now it's not to say that having a free presswill solve the problems.But it might actually engage a popular consciousnessand a conversation within a nation aboutwhat is right and appropriate, not justwhat exists and therefore must exist forever.

    • 06:40

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: The countries which repeatedly in the Press Freedom Indexcome out as the best, the ones in white, if you like,it tends to be the Nordic countries, Norway, Sweden,Finland, Iceland.These are the ones that repeatedly make the top four.The reasons for that are basically the institutionsthat they put in place and the culturethat they put in place to enable a vigorous investigativejournalistic culture.

    • 07:07

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: So for instance, Iceland for a couple of yearshas been debating the Icelandic Modern Media Initiative, whichis a legal bill, basically, that Icelandwould like to pass in order to strengthenits institutions even further, basically to protectjournalists, to protect sources, to protect data and informationflow.

    • 07:28

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: Press diversity is a good indicatorof how free and healthy a nation's press is.Does it have a wide range of independent outletsrather than just a state-governed outlet?Is there funding to actually enable journalism to survive?Because journalism has gone through a lot of problemsfinancially, globally, over the past few yearswith the shift to digital.

    • 07:51

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: But you know, all the institutions istheir money or their different ways of funding,different voices, and basically just allowing a range of voicesto appear, those critical of the state included.New media technologies are helping the situation.

    • 08:13

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: Satellite television is one example of this.In the Middle East, when satellite televisionarose from the 1990s onwards, it wasquite disruptive to the authoritarian regime structurebecause it was broadcasting from beyond the nation-state.The authoritarian regime couldn'tcontrol what was being said, what was being shown.

    • 08:34

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: It reaches largely illiterate masses.You don't need to be able to read or writeto get the satellite reception, to understandwhat's being said.And it introduces people to different ways of being.From your Egyptian soap operas, whichshow a particular way of living, whichare very popular in the Middle East,through to stations like Al Jazeera, whichis based in Qatar but broadcast across the Middle East, whichshows ways of debating and engaging in discussionsin public that perhaps the Middle East haven't really beenexposed to in their own national media.

    • 09:11

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: So one of the most interesting things about news, I find,is how it presents communities.How it constructs us, how it constructs them,an us-versus-them mentality, if you like.This is important because how do wegenerate a sense of global solidarity with peoplebeyond our borders, people who are not instantly like us?

    • 09:34

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: What are we made to care about on a continual basis?And what is presented to us as being important?It's pretty much always in the case of national broadcasterslike the BBC, for instance, a caseof presenting the national interest.So if we take war as an example, which is alwayswhen community allegiances are most demarcated, I suppose.

    • 09:58

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: Is there any way that the news couldhelp us care about the plight of the ordinary Iraqior the ordinary Syrian, for instance, Syria engagedin civil war for the past few yearsand Iraq pretty much descending in one now?Is there any way of engaging the British public at home,for instance, in the decision of the Cameron governmentto send planes to degrade ISIS in Iraqwith justifications beyond the national interest?

    • 10:28

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: Because it's the national interestthat's always privileged and promoted by the governmentand in the news.Which is all very well, but thereare other interests at play here, surely.The interests of the Iraqi people, the Syrian people.Why is that we never hear about their interests?Always our interests, national interests.

    • 10:49

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: This is not helping to create a sense of global solidarity.This is reproducing the sense of British nationhood.So this tutorial has asked the question,how free is news from around the world?And we've seen that it's not a very good picture.

    • 11:11

      VIAN BAKIR [continued]: Even Britain and America are not as goodas they could be in terms of press freedom.And much of the world is in a difficult or serious situation.We also looked at the role of new technologyin fostering resistance to censorship.And we finally had a look at how news createsa sense of community and the importance of movingbeyond a sense of national communityto a more global solidarity.

Global Media

View Segments Segment :

Unique ID: bd-meco-tuto-gm-AA00758


Dr. Vian Bakir discusses how free the press really is and where the best and worst places are for press freedom. Also discussed are the ways in which new media are affecting press freedom, as well as how the press affects our sense of community.

SAGE Video Tutorials
Global Media

Dr. Vian Bakir discusses how free the press really is and where the best and worst places are for press freedom. Also discussed are the ways in which new media are affecting press freedom, as well as how the press affects our sense of community.

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