Blog Essay Class 12

Chang Liu

The article of mediatization pointed out that we are in an age of information explosion, when the most severe task of the government is to control the information flow. However, with the 2.0 age spread through the whole universe, it is unwise to simply suppress or control the information flow. Many cases demonstrated the uncontrollability of the internet, especially the social media, as well as an increasingly powerful public sphere, both in democratic and authoritarian societies. The turnover of Mubarak’s regime in Egypt, the democratic revolution in South Korea, along with the Tunisian revolution all testified that simply suppress the public sphere on the internet will turn out to be a suicidal behavior of the government. The worldwide governments learned a lesson that they should cooperate with, positively respond to and skillfully negotiate with the social media. As this process goes, it’s of great interest to see how media has changed from a tool for the upper class influencing the lower, to one for the lower class placing influence back to the upper. This reminds me a recent event which can well serve as an experiment to testify this change. On June 15th, 2013, China’s national soccer team lost 5-1 to visiting Thailand team. This caused an unprecedented an explosive of harsh criticism from every media outlet. Not only social media, but also traditional mainstream media can no longer bear China’s national soccer team’s poor performance. It’s worthwhile to wait and see how the China’s soccer league will react to change, or even the entire system of China’s sports institution.

In the article, the author tries to define mediatization as “mediatization refers to a more long-lasting process, whereby social and cultural institutions and modes of interaction are changed as a consequence of the growth of the media’s influence” (pg. 10). However, I doubt whether it is necessarily true that the media’s influence will grow with time progresses. For example, when mass media first comes into being, the masses can barely resist the influence that the scholars at that time refer the media as “magic bullet”. However, with more and more audience became aware of what was going on behind the scene, their trust to the broadcasting media decreases. Then there is a “counter discourse” of media influence. Hence, we can see here media has gone through a trivialization procedure. As a result, we can’t necessarily believe that media’s influence on the society swells over time. Then, I suggest change the definition of “mediatization” into “mediatization refers to a more long-lasting process, whereby social and cultural institutions and modes of interaction are changed as a consequence of the change of the media’s influence”.

Picard pointed out the reason why news industry is moving toward a brand tougher new age. The media supply is growing faster than the demand. It suddenly reminds me of the rules of market economy explained by Karl Marx that the certain outcome of capitalism is the problem of unequal growth rate of the supply and the demand. Hence, in my opinion, all those strategies are ephemeral, and the only way out is the one where capitalism goes out. Just as emphasized by Hjarvard that the duality of media makes it a must to take the social institutions and the culture and historical context into account, we may have to figure out a solution from a broader landscape.

It is true that newspapers are struggling to survive in this digital age. I don’t think they should go against the trend and attempt to preserve the paper circulation. Instead, they should shift their focus on digital devices and create correspondent contents for those users, who will become the major consumers sooner or later. However, as it is for the books, the newspaper is not going to die out, because reading newspaper, as it is with the book, is a lifestyle. People preferring this lifestyle basically refuse overuse of the high tech-stuffs, and pursuing a more healthy way to live. And paper reading is irreplaceable in this sense. Also, in some cases, for instance, people could only read newspapers in the subway where the signal is bad for surfing the internet. Hence, in my opinion, shifting the major business to digital, and keeping the minor part as traditional newspaper are the best tactics to survive for the traditional news agencies.

DQ: Is traditional newspaper (reading on the paper version) going to disappear entirely? Is traditional book reading going to die out either? Are these two issues the same?

Analyze This Class 11

Certainly we can’t simply equate the Internet to the coffee shop, considering the participants, the space, the time, topics and the people’s relationship. The bourgeois were the major participants of the public sphere in the coffee shop. They basically know each other, with a relatively strong tie. They talk about the politics and the local affairs. And they must gather at the same time in one place. However, in the virtual world, everyone that has the internet access can talk about issues of all ranges and from everywhere. It’s not limited to one particular time or one particular space. People can just leave their comments there and wait for other’s responses from different time and different places, even with different culture and backgrounds. As a result, it offers more diversity and a wider view to the public sphere online. Also, people can not see each other online, and have relatively week ties. So their speeches could be more opinionated. But it eliminates the problems caused by the spiral of silence, comparing to face-to-face communication.

Blog Essay Class 11

Chang Liu

June Woong Rhee’s article argues that it is the public selves that participate in the discursive interaction. I find it’s interesting because that the public self is only one side of an individual’s personality. Taking only one side instead of an integrated and mediated multi-façade individual makes it diverge from reality. For example, people can behave quite extreme and polarized when only presenting their public selves in front of others.  However, how the public selves on the Internet differ from the individuals in the real world still needs research and discussion.

June Woong Rhee says that “In the internet age, new modes of political engagement have occurred while traditional modes such as participatory and discursive activities have also been preserved” (pg. 360). This suddenly prompted one question in my mind- have we really progressed in terms of an ideal public sphere in our age of the internet? This will be extremely disputable especially when it comes to the comparison between that of the ancient Greek and of today. First, it should be clear that the ideal of public sphere is openness, equal access and rationality. In terms of “openness”, ancient Greek’s coffee shop and salon only open to the middle class or higher. In contrast, the internet opens to tons of millions of people of different background. On this dimension, we do make a progress. Then, as far as “equal access” is considered, again, to the ancient Greeks, just a limited number of people coming from a limited social stratum can enter the coffee shop and have their voices heard. However, I don’t see much progress in this respect. The censorship in the cyber space becomes the greatest enemy of equal access. The accessibility of people in different regions varies a lot. Aside from censorship, other stuffs like identification system limit people’s access to many valuable resources. Derived from the notion of “information is free”, I contend that “knowledge is free”. For that matter, I believe that the academic data bases should be easily accessed by everyone who craves for knowledge. Looking at the last ideal, “rationality”, the netizens appear more opinionated and “self-regarding” during the interaction in the discursive public. The reason is that they don’t appear as they are in the real-world, and they can be relatively carefree about the aftermaths of their speeches. However, the ancient Athens citizens in the coffee shop appeared as they were, and they present a mediated self instead of an entirely carefree public self. This in fact gave them more rationality when involved in the discussion. In this sense, we lose to the ancient Greeks. However, technology growing fast, it’s easier to identify the real individual from their online appearance. As a result, online reputation is more and more important, and this helps the act more rational in the discursive public.

From June Woong Rhee’s article, I get a better understanding of democracy, which is the people are well represented by the parties, and the parties, in turn, thoroughly represented by the media. However, in this internet age, we find more processes are going on out there. People can represent themselves on the media, which is a compensation for the representation chain mentioned above. In addition, the public sphere forces many official procedures to go transparent, and the people, through the media, supervise the parties to represent them appropriately. As those procedures go, I believe that the internet does promote democracy.

Talking about global journalism, many researchers suggest that the traditional ethics, norms and models can not be fit into the journalism in a wider range, as well as the era of the internet. In terms of journalism ethics, I agree that it should be adjusted to the situation of the day, while I am not for the idea that there should be a universal model applicable to the global situation. This idea, for me, is too ideal. The global situation is too complex to be generalized. Why are the researchers trying to build a universally true model? If there is one, it must be too theoretical to put in practice, and too broad to make any sense.

Talking about the notion of “journalism is democracy”, if it is true, it could only be temporary true and regionally true. Countries like China could never imagine the equation of journalism and democracy. What’s more, democracy, now, is the most ideal political ideal among the existent political forms. However, things remain to be changed as time progresses. Journalism shouldn’t be attached to any specific political modalities and has its own virtues.

DQ: Have we really progressed in terms of an ideal public sphere in our age of the internet? (Compare to whichever media regime you like)

Analyze this Class 11

Like what it actually did with the Chinese government, and In order to keep the entire reputation of Google, I would refuse to comply with the government’s requirements and retreat Google from that country. I do this because information is free, and I would rather sacrifice an appealing market in that country to make sure that Google’s business is fair, decent and we are providing the customer the best service. If I yield to the country’s requirement, Google would become a cooperator of the illegal reputation management business or even the black PR in China, hindering the process of democracy as a whole.

Blog Essay Class 10

Chang Liu

In response to the article, “How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences

Collective Expression”, I actually doubt the two definitions of “censorship” introduced in the article. The first one is “state critique” theory, and the other is “collective action potential”. I find the two overlap each other to a great extent. For example, there is a great potential for some harsh critics of the state to bring about chaos and mobilization of the oppositions to the state. Even a simple revelation of some facts undesirable for the government is a potential threat of stirring up people’s collective actions. In addition, the expressions of people’s view which has the potential to clip collective actions are most likely to be critics of the government. In this sense, I don’t find these two theories distinguish each other well.

Also, I do not quite understand the conclusion that Chinese government allows criticism, by which it suppresses local corruption and better maintains its regime. However, most of the time, I see local corruption is tightly related to the central’s. I don’t understand why the government is not afraid of being exposed on the support of the local corruption and thus threatened to its power.

I want to talk more details about the scandal of the government official, Bo Xilai and his wife, Gu Kailai mentioned in this article. Although China’s censors have blocked almost all of what was going on behind the scenes, they can’t block the word of mouth, and the anti-censorship software such as “Freedoor”, supported by Falun Gong, a spiritual discipline cracked down upon by Chinese government. Bo Xilai, once a high brow governor of the Chongqing Province, was considered a hero when he succeeded in forcefully suppressing the biggest local mafia and the related corruptive officials. And one of Bo’s heroic subordinate, Wang Lijun, fled to the US embassy in Chengdu to seek help. So when Bo himself was arrested and announced commission of a bunch of crimes as collusion with the mafia, corruption and murder, the public was so shocked that a massive attention and interests to China’s politics was aroused. When I threw the question on what was truly going on behind the scenes, many of my acquaintances, as common citizens, knew the truth and told me the complicated reason behind this issue. And they also told me they constantly browsed foreign news articles through anti-censorship software like the “freedoor” to get the truth. As a matter of fact, more and more Chinese people are taking various ways to circumscribe the censorship, and there is a growing concern about politics among Chinese people, which I see is one step toward democracy.

When reading the articles about Bloomberg and New York Times’ tactics against China’s censorship, I suddenly recall a similar incident in 2010. Google, the world’s largest search engine, was banned from Mainland China in that it refused to employ the self-censorship complied with Chinese government. And from that on, people from Mainland China can only turn to Google in Hongkong’s domain name. In this way, Google circumscribes China’s censorship. However, the Mainland China’s users still encounter redirection of their search results when they try to search some “sensitive words”. And this is done by China’s “Great fire wall of China”. This issue also influenced the diplomatic relations between China and The US.  Here is a link about the details of this incident:

Talking about the black PR in China, admittedly, this is one of the harsh realities Chinese people have to face with. However, looking at the PR industry worldwide, I still can’t see much in the bright side when it comes to the protection of the rights of the citizens. Like what was contended by Chomsky and Herman, PR is, in fact, a way of cheating the masses. PR firms serve its clients by exaggerating positive issues, trivializing or eliminating negative ones, and torturing facts, etc. In my opinion, the entire PR industry should be more or less criticized in terms of its offending people’s rights of knowing the truth.

Yuezhi Zhao’s article does prompt a lot of thoughts on my personal experience. When I was working for Shanghai TV Station as a news ticker editor, I am not allowed to use news from the AP or the Reuters, despite that I can review all of them. The only news source I can take from is the Xinhua Agency. This echoes with Zhao’s idea of controlled reporting as “a limited circulation of official news on these events, channeled through the newly instituted government new spokesman mechanism” (pg. 266).

Also, as the check and balance goes on, people’s voices are growing increasingly louder that the state cannot omit them. For example, the China’s Broadcasting Censorship Institution is forced to consider a system of movie rating so that movies can retain their original length and formality when presented to the public.

DQ: Unequal distribution of wealth and government corruption is everywhere around the world. So does the intense polarization of the rich and the poor. Under which political system is this situation more severe? China’s capital socialism or the US’ capitalism?

Blog Essay Class 9

Chang Liu

Looking at the research roundup on the social media’s effects on “Arab Spring”, the research results diverge a lot from each other. However, there are still some appealing nuances which deserve a close look. First, nearly all the studies agree that the social media doesn’t act as a decisive factor of the revolutions. Instead, it functions more to connecting different communities, arousing common grievances, and expanding the revolution both in terms of time and region. Suppose, there having been social media, how could activists kick off the uprising, arouse people’s awareness, and unite different communities in different regions? The video documenting the Arab’s revolution in April, 2011 sheds light upon the solution. When the Mubarak administration shut down the Internet and mobile service, activists still successfully reorganized people by going onto the street and delivering home-made fliers. Although this approach is far less effective considering both time and geographical range, yet the activists still succeeded to kick start. Here I realize that the decisive factor of revolution is still from the intrinsic elements of the society. When the conflicts among different social stratums reach the peek, nothing can stop the dramatic change of the society. Media, here, no matter what form it takes, is playing as an amplifier, as well as a catalyst during this entire process.

Also, I find interesting that government, too, can utilize social media as their propaganda. It still remains to be seen that how the newly formed Arab government maintains its regime through skillful operation of social media.

On the other side, instead of solely focusing on the political effects, researches roundup about Twitter touched almost every aspect of its usage. However, there are still a substantial amount of studies concentrating on its relation to politics. Interestingly, Twitter, initially recognized as one serving the public and the masses, doesn’t represent the public opinion, especially on politics. Then comes the question, who and what platform, if not twitter, represent the public opinions? At the same time, other studies show that speeches on twitter are generally more polarized and negative than those on other media platforms. From my point of view, this might be due to the anonymity of the Internet, so people can take less responsibility about what they said. As a result, opinions on the social media could easily be exaggerated by personal experiences and emotions, which is distinguished from the mediated and negotiated speeches on other public spheres.

In the Chapter 15, Curran is dealing with the application of democracy theory among the public. In solving this problem, he introduced the notion of “media regime”, which is “a historical specific, relatively stable set of institutions, norms, processes and actors that shape the expectations and practices of media producers and consumers” (pg. 292). With the arising of the Internet, we are moving from a “broadcast news regime” to a “new information age”.  Thus, the entire notion of “who produces economic and media elites who benefited most from the existing regime has to be reshuffled.  Here the article of “Amateur journalists create jobs for professional ones” opens the discussion of who should produce the sufficient and trustworthy information.  This article points out that more and more common people are playing as producers of media information, while the journalists act increasingly more as gatekeepers, editors and resource collectors. The masses do have the ability to create sufficient information, while the information, to a great percentage, should be sifted, improved or revised. The explosion of information throughout new media is in fact generating more jobs for the professional journalists despite the fact that most of the time they don’t have to appear at the frontline immediately.

I guess that we are evolving into an era, where the whole society plays as the journalists, with the unprofessional ones distributed everywhere catching first-hand news, and the professional ones staying in the newsroom curating, editing and commenting on the news story. And then, messages are delivered on multiple platforms. However, I consider the duplicated information on various platforms is a huge waste of resources. The functions of different devices are overlapping each other: Many functions of mobile phones are redundant with those of the tablets; the laptop is sometimes playing the role of various platforms such as the TV, the film and the mobile devices. Although the multiple platforms are meant to serve people in different needs, yet I still find them too redundant. I guess that going through all the process of explosion of media platforms, and this self-selection process will at last leave only several of them alive in order to keep the resources well-allocated and people’s life simple.

DQ: What is the greatest potential threat brought by the fragmented information on the Internet? Could you relate to your personal experience and talk about it?

Analyze This Class 8

Tree of Cracow

The Tree of Cracow stands in the gardens of the Palais-Royal in the center of Paris. People used to gather at that place, talking about the Polish succession under the regime of Louis XV. The Cracow also stands for a public sphere, like the coffee shops, where people can talk about the public affairs and politics especially in the years when news releases are forbidden from dealing with these issues.