conflict & communication online, Vol. 4, No. 2, 2005
ISSN 1618-0747




Hackett, Robert A. & Zhao, Yuezhi (eds.), 2005. Democratizing Global Media: One World, Many Struggles. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers Inc.

Democratizing Global Media: One World, Many Struggles is a collection of essays addressing the processes of media globalization and media democratization. The book is a result of three years long research, which included more than one hundred participants, who met in Oxford, Vancouver and Budapest between 2002 and 2004. This extensive research was initiated by Toda Institute for Global Peace and Police Research and its director, Prof. Majid Tehranian. Finally, a demanding task of collecting, organizing, supervising and preparing this book for publishing was assigned to two distinguished scholars, Prof. Robert A. Hackett and Prof. Yuezhi Zhao from Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. Having been involved in the emerging movement of media democratization for the last couple of years, both Hackett and Zhao executed their roles of the project's coordinators with an utmost understanding of the topic and obvious determination to present its multifaceted nature not only to media experts, but also to potential media activists and even the general public.
Before presenting the book's main topics and ideas, it needs to be pointed out that Prof. Hackett's area of expertise matches the topic in its entirety because of his special involvement in the democratization of the North American media. On the other hand, the academic interest of Prof. Zhao is directed to the global political economy of the media with her particular research into the media development of the fastest growing world economy - her native China. As the editors openly suggest in the introductory essay, the subtitle One World, Many Struggles is a direct reference to the final document of the "first wave of media democratization" - Mac Bride's famous report, One World, Many Voices. This document sublimed an effort of Third World countries in the1980s to create a more equal global communication system formulated in the demand for the New World Information and Communication Order. It is noticeable that in the title of Hackett & Zhao's book, Democratizing Global Media, the word democratizing has a dual meaning. If taken as an adjective, it outlines the democratic potential of the global media, but, taken as a verb, it implies a necessity to make the global media more democratic.
Indeed, the necessity for a global media reform motivated the book's editors/contributors firstly, to draw the issues and challenges of the rapid development of the "market driven communication system on a global scale" (Hackett & Zhao in Ch. 1, Hafez in Ch. 7, O Siochru in Ch. 10, Hackett & McChesney in Ch. 11), and secondly, to offer some kind of theoretical and practical framework for building of the global media democratization movement (Hackett & Zhao in Ch.1, Hackett & McChesney in Ch. 11, O Siochru in Ch.14). In addition to these fundamental discussions, strong impacts of the media globalizations are audited on the national level.
Accordingly, the first section of the book addresses the examples of Eastern Europe's (Sparks), China's (Zhao), India's (Thomas), Latin America's (Protzel) and Africa's (Aginam) economic integration into the global neo-liberal "paradise". As Hackett points out, in the field of media, this "paradise" is built on four pillars of the market-liberal faith: concentration, conglomeration, convergence and commercialism (p. 225). Undoubtedly, these four Cs have defined the recent development of global media undermining the individual states' control/organization of their own national media systems.
In the second section of the book Democratizing Global Media: One World, Many Struggles, special attention is directed to the media dealing with two conflict sites and war-torn areas: Israel (Shinar) and Iraq (Oberg). Perspectives of replacing the CNN's propaganda model of media and the practice of "patriotic journalism" (aggressively implemented in the post- 9/11 world), with more responsible/accountable media and "peace journalism" are outlined in the third section of the book (Lynch & Mc Goldrick). In addition, one piece of this section (Srebreny) offers some insights into women's representation in the global media and the potentials of women's alternative networks.
In terms of developing potential for future success of media democratization activism on a global scale the most valuable chapter of the book is definitely Hackett & Zhao's introductory analysis of major issues, challenges and paradoxes of the media globalization/media democratization processes and their impact on the world political economy. As Hamelink (1995) suggests, "media democratization was commonly separated from the societal democratization"(Cited on p. 2), so the editors of the book have undertaken an effort to critically connect these two areas. By outlining six major dimensions of the actual media globalization: the dominance of transnational media corporations, the commercial model of media, the domination of Western-based TMCs, globalization of media effects, Western style media regulation and "globalization form below" (pp. 6-9) Hackett & Zhao clearly identify five potential targets and one strategy of the global media democratization movements. As the main agents of the movement these two critical media scholars and other contributors to the book Democratizing Global Media: One World, Many Struggles consider the following: global/national civil society organizations/coalitions, transnational NGOs dedicated to the genuine democratic development and existing anti-globalization movements. These social agents can be placed in the centre of the struggle for global media reform, which should be generated by four major fields of action: building independent media, finding openings for progressive messages in corporate media, media education and building coalitions for media reform (Hackett, p. 242).
Both Eastern European "negotiated revolutions" based on the wide coalition of civil society movements in 1989 and the cooperation between the indigenous Zapatista movement in Mexico and international anti-globalization movement in mid-1990s are examples of a successful media strategy in the process of political democratization. In the former communist countries of Eastern Europe, the key media factor in the political movements' actions were TV broadcastings (Romanian revolution, falling of the Berlin Wall), while in the case of Zapatista struggle it was the building of international support through the Internet. Certainly, these cases demonstrate that media could play an important role in societal change.
In conclusion, the book Democratizing Global Media: One World, Many Struggles is sending us a clear message that the time to reconsider global media development has come. In the interview exclusively conducted for the book, Robert McChesney accurately observes that U.S. media "has been instituted without public debate" (p. 226). Consequently, big media corporations, being products of that system, dominate the global communication today and complete McLuhan's prophecy of "the global village". Democratizing Global Media: One World, Many Struggles helps us to hear the "village's" church bell, which tolls for all of us who believe that advertising should not be the main content of the media.

Spasa Bosnjak

* Dedication. This review is dedicated to a memory of the assassinated Serbian Prime Minister, Dr. Zoran Djindjic, who was University of Konstanz's PhD graduate. His brilliance serves and always will as a lighthouse for all of us who are committed to bring democracy to Serbia.



On the author: Spasa Bosnjak, born 1962, studied Film & TV production at University of Belgrade. Graduated in 2005 in the School of Communication at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, Canada. His research interest is in Serbian media and their role in the process of transition/political democratization.

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