In Journal: Trauma, democracy, foreign ownership and war

Articles published in the most recent issue of the Canadian Journal of Media Studies that may be of interest to the journalism community:

“Informed Mutual Support: Options on Violence and Trauma from the Perspective of the Journalist”, by Robert M. Frank and Ross Perigoe

The paper questions three ideologically bound components: that traumatic stress and post traumatic stress disorder can be addressed as if they are identical; that ‘assignment stress injury’ victims are composed largely of foreign correspondents; and that therapeutic intervention must be conducted by clinicians. An alternative modality of supporting some of the victims of assignment stress injury is suggested by applying lessons from the supportive environment of the now largely out-of-favor press club on the premise that journalists themselves are uniquely able to address the stresses of their colleagues. Journalists themselves need to be part of the healing process.

“Covering Democracy: The coverage of FPTP vs. MMP in the Ontario Referendum on Electoral Reform”, by George Hoff

The ballot box is central to democracy. On election day in Canada voters are exhorted to make their way to church halls, school rooms and community centres to take a sheet of paper with a list of names in alphabetical order, stand behind a u-shaped piece of cardboard and make an “x” beside the candidate of their choice. When the votes are counted the candidate with the most votes takes his or her seat in the legislature. In the past few years Canadians have begun to consider if this single member plurality system (SMP), also called “first-past-the-post”, is best suited to providing good governance. To engage the public in this debate, the mass media plays a critical role. How the media frames the electoral options for its readers, viewers and listeners, shapes the debate and ultimately impacts on the outcome. The way the media sets the agenda and the extent of the coverage will influence an electorate that is highly dependent on the media as it considers how to vote. Because referendums are rare in Canada, the role of the media is even more critical in informing voters about the issue.

‘Thwarting Foreign Ownership Limits: Policy Activism by CanWest Global Communications in Canada and Australia”, by Marc Edge

CanWest Global Communications is a Canadian media conglomerate controlled by a family of lawyers who have announced a goal of ranking among the world’s dominant media owners. In early 2007, the company engineered an innovative takeover of one of Canada’s largest media companies, Alliance Atlantis Communications. In partnership with U.S. investment banker Goldman Sachs, CanWest acquired 36 percent ownership of thirteen specialty television channels owned by Alliance Atlantis. Goldman Sachs acquired 64 percent ownership, a level well in excess of Canada’s foreign media ownership limits. The Alliance Atlantis takeover echoed CanWest’s modus operandi in Australia, where it had acquired majority ownership of Network TEN fifteen years earlier despite similar limits. An investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Authority allowed the arrangement in 1995, but similar deals were subsequently outlawed. A ten-year debate in Australia over lifting a cross-ownership restriction that prevented newspaper companies from holding broadcasting licences was finally resolved in 2006 with the abolition of not only cross ownership limits, but of foreign media ownership limits as well. As CanWest has long urged removal of foreign media ownership limits in Canada, and as a review of these limits was recently completed, the end result of its initiatives in both countries could be the same.

“Media, Politics and the Emergence of Democracy in Bangladesh”, by Abul Mansur Ahmed

The focus of this paper is on the nature and operation of laws and regulations in Bangladesh that have been used to limit press freedom from 1972 through 2003. The majority of the regulations have their origins during British colonial period 1857-1947. Through a legal and political analysis of the evolution and use of these laws and regulations by successive governments in Bangladesh, the study provides an important perspective on the struggle for democracy in that country. It is evident from the findings that political institutions in Bangladesh are fragile in absence of democratic political culture. The research reveals that the government is aware of the shortcomings in the regulations and laws relating to the press, but is not willing to offer genuine and comprehensive reforms.

“News of War in a Distant Land: The News Media and the Korean War”, by Andrew Fraser

This paper examines the arduous saga of the news reporters who covered the Korean War. The war was often presented to American audiences in terms that were generally uncritical of American actions. This can partly be traced to the fact that the onerous conditions in the field caused reporters to rely heavily on information from government sources. Beyond this, attitudes on the home front were being shaped by fears brought on by an intensifying Cold War and audiences desired a view of an America that was standing firm against the communist world. It is often pondered what influence the news media exerts over public opinion, however sometimes the most important question of all is what impact opinion on the home front exerts on the journalist.