The impact of international computer networks on news forms, distribution and access: Case studies in south-north and south-south flows of news
This dissertation assesses the impact of international computer networks on the size and nature of international news windows. It expands on theoretical frameworks of structural news flow, media gatekeepers, ideological state apparatuses, global civil society, and global journalism. It makes valuable contributions to mass communications research by focusing on an entity largely overlooked by the field: computer-mediated communications systems.
A content analysis was applied to 2,500 stories in a one-week sample of international news coverage drawn from print, radio, television, and online media from a Northern country (U.S.A.) and one from the South (Brazil). The study came up with three sets of findings.
First, online services enable individual users to access news in forms and types unavailable via traditional media, such as raw feeds of newswires, press releases, calls to activism, reports from non-media organizations, and news digests published on a regular, timely basis. Reportage on the online services constitutes a form of global and human journalism. Second, users had unfiltered access to news from a number of media and non-media organizations. Thus, subscribers of online services could bypass the gatekeepers of traditional media and access a news window which was larger (especially in coverage of the South), freer of domestic coverage constraints, and more pluralistic. But concerns also arose about intellectual property rights, authenticity of news sources, and ethical use of public forums.
Third, the online news material on these computer network services came from more news and information producing organizations based in the North (especially the U.S.) than in the South. The economic and infrastructural disparity between North and South leads to a domination of Northern information sources on such online services. Though these networking organizations, as compared to the traditional media, can better function as ideological apparatuses for international civil society, they largely reflect the views and ideology of Northern civil society.
This dissertation identifies recent technological developments like search engines, personalized news services, multimedia publishing, and the global growth of the Internet. The findings of the dissertation can apply to this newly emerging media landscape as well; promising directions for future research are identified.
0723: Information Systems