Volume 95, Issue 33

Wednesday, October 31, 2001
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UWO prof: West 'feasting' on Africa

Panicked masses seek salvation

The world at war

Big Brother set to watch over London

News Briefs

A/V kids vs. brainiac in debate

Halloween safe for sugar-crazed kids

A/V kids vs. brainiac in debate

By Erin Conway-Smith
Gazette Staff

An academic debate on globalization of the media sparked questions and discussion, though little actual debating, yesterday in the University Community Centre atrium.

Approximately 20 students attended the discussion between Nick Dyer-Witheford, a media, information and technoculture professor and Andrew Macklin, network co-ordinator for TV Western.

The debate was the second in a series of eight organized by University Students' Council academic programming commissioner Josh Morgan, as part of an initiative to increase academic participation outside the classroom.

Dyer-Witheford, who teaches courses on the political economy of information, discussed corporate global media as a "seriously skewed" system designed to meet the profit motive and not intended to foster social advancement

"The problem is a media system that is global technologically but not global socially," he said, citing the failure of global media to inform people of the world situation that led to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Macklin spoke from the perspective of a student planning to work in the globalized media field and brought questions to Dyer-Witheford about problems facing journalists as a result of an amalgamated media industry.

Macklin also raised concerns about how media can become more socially responsible.

The professional and ethical responsibility of journalists to provide unbiased coverage often comes into conflict with the profit-making motives of corporations, Dyer-Witheford said.

"Complete, in-depth news coverage is not immediately a profit-making venture," he said, pointing to alternative and independent media as an important option.

Dyer-Witheford also discussed several positive achievements of the corporate media system. For example, the extension of the media system has loosened the grip of corrupt governments and state censorship in nations like the former Soviet Union.

The global media system also distributes a culturally diverse variety of goods and entertainment commodities. Additionally, the technological infrastructure financed by corporate media, like the Internet, can be used by alternative news outlets.

"We can't lapse into self-congratulatory rhetoric about this media system," Dyer-Witheford warned. The motive of the corporate global media system is profit and is responsive to the affluent, not the impoverished, he said.

"Dr. Dyer-Witheford gave a great speech – it was hard to comeback with anything," Macklin said.

Dyer-Witheford applauded the USC for hosting debates in the public space of the atrium, which he said is a revival of one of the most important traditions of participatory democracy

"[Dyer-Witheford] is a professor of mine. I was really impressed with him – he had a really cohesive view of the media," said Ryan Carr, a third-year MIT student, adding Macklin also raised some interesting questions.

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