Social Media’s Influence on the Oscar Pistorius Trial

The globalization of news media has created a need for real-time information in individuals throughout the world. With the instant updates on social media and blogs, people are constantly glued to their smartphones, tablets, and computers with a need to stay in the loop. This is currently peaking with the Oscar Pistorius trial where individuals throughout the world are craving real time information to find out what happens to him. Pistorius’ name is trending worldwide on Twitter and other social media sites while news outlets are making sure to cover him on television once (or more) every hour. 

A news article in Cape Argus from South Africa asks if social media, television, will have an impact on the outcome of the Pistorius trial. This is an interesting concept because it might be the first time that outside, nongovernmental officials are influencing the outcome of a legal proceeding. “Regular” individuals will make an impact and feel that they made a difference in the outcome. One can question if this could occur in the United States. However, you can also argue that the United States has a strong justice system where outside sources, other than rich corporations or government officials, cannot influence the results.

The results of this case might counter the results found by Robertson (2013) in her study related to the influence, or lack thereof, of social media in discussions on global television networks. Within her study, Robertson (2013) found that social media is not a significant player in media coverage for important news events. The news corporations serve as a gatekeeper between the conversations on social media and what they say to the general public. Therefore, they make sure to control the message in order to influence the audience.

Due to this, one could consider that these media corporations are fearful of Twitter and other social media outlets. If they sway the outcome of the Pistorius trial, they will move towards controlling the message and controlling the profits of the media corporations. In doing so, it decreases the profitability of these corporations and allows a mass amount of individuals to feel influential and able to make a difference. The outcome is not determined yet but we should all be watching the trial and its results very closely.

Advertisements

The Cruise Industry is Found to be Inauthentic

A news article by Global Travel Industry News discusses a study by Leeds Metropolitan University that studies corporate social responsibility in the cruise industry. The study goes into detail about how the industry is not going far enough to take care of the environment, the areas where they travel, and the entire society. The companies in this industry do not promote corporate social responsibility on their websites or any reports that they develop. In addition, the data that they report to public stakeholders do not include any positive results that occurred due to the efforts of the companies or sustainability initiatives from any particular efforts.

With that in mind, it is interesting to see the negative publicity against the entire industry due to the lack of authenticity of the companies within it. As discussed by Molleda and Roberts (2008), authenticity is an important asset in developing trust between an organization and its publics. The fact that the industry is not being authentic and honest with its publics is the main reason that this new study and all news displays negative traits for the industry and companies within it. In addition, many do not know if the industry is doing anything to support the environment or if they are just giving “lip service” to members of the public while still doing damage to the environment, animals, humans, etc.

Along with this, the limited reporting and lack of authenticity leads to a decreased economic value in the industry and companies within it. The lack of trust and authenticity does not give members of the public the sense that they can support them by going on trips in boats or donating funds for their efforts. Molleda and Roberts (2008) countered these initiatives by being more transparent and working hard to support the local economy, workers, society. The new Juan Valdez campaign increased the economic sustainability of Columbia and the coffee industry. While on this particular case, it is different because the reports do not show any economic sustainability because of the industry.

Sadly, this case shows that corporations are not progressing towards being authentic and concerned about developing trust with their publics and the entire society. There are some corporations who are fighting against this image to promote true corporate social responsibility. Companies like Chase Bank are promoting the social good and developing their community image locally and throughout the globe. However, I have not found any particular studies to discuss this particular impact or if the public finds them authentic or trustworthy. As we move forward, we should study the true authenticity of all corporations and industries.

Spiral of Silence Expanded in Malaysian Airlines Case

After the recent claim by Malaysian leadership that Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 allegedly crashed into the Indian Ocean, almost all of the families involved, along with the majority of Chinese residents, are blaming the leadership on how they handled every aspect of the disappearance. News reports from CNN, CBC News, and others are discussing the backlash and anger from the country of China, including their government, families involved, and residents who had nothing to do with the disappearance of the plane.

This case is interesting because it is displaying two different scenarios of what Lyons (2005) called the Spiral of Silence Theory. Within this theory, individuals will only publicly state their opinion if they believe that the majority of the public are going to agree with their opinion. On the other hand, they will stay silent if they believe that others will criticize or attack them for their perspective. In this particular case, one scenario is that residents are not going to publicly defend Malaysian Airlines or question the claims by residents who have families missing. It is understandable for individuals to feel concerned about sharing a differing opinion because we are dealing with the possible death of a large number of Chinese residents as well as residents from other countries. Therefore, we are not going to hear many arguments against the heated and emotional statements by the Chinese government and individuals who were personally affected by the disappearance.

However, there is also a different scenario that plays out in this case and it is the influence that social media plays on spreading the Spiral of Silence throughout the entire globe. These communication channels give all residents a voice to make statements and claims to strengthen the “popular” opinion against Malaysian Airlines and the Malaysian government. It gives individuals who are not personally invested in the story an opportunity to make a statement that others will find credible. The individual may not be personally invested because they either don’t live in China or Malaysia or don’t know any of the details.

Social media also gives anyone an outlet to shed light and negatively harm any individual who might come to the defense of Malaysian Airlines and how they handled the situation. For example, individuals can “out” this person throughout various channels (i.e., Facebook, YouTube, news outlets) and others will jump in to attack him/her. This will cause fear in other individuals who might want to step up in defense but are scared of personal and public attacks by others. Therefore, the Spiral of Silence would spread from the communities affected to every side of the globe due to the extremely public shame that comes along with having a different opinion than the majority.

Is CNN the Most Effective Communicator for the Malaysia Airlines Missing Flight Story?

The current and constant coverage of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 is getting out of hands, per several news reports. This week, Salon discussed the issues with the coverage and the complaints made by MSNBC reporters and Boston.com reported on the Twitter backlash due to the coverage. Even CNN itself reported on the constant coverage that lacks on the revelation of new facts or any relevant information. At one point, CNN displayed a flight simulator every half hour and gave various theories into what could have happened if they actually had any relevant information.

To many individuals, this might seem like a news company trying too hard to win ratings and gain worldwide viewers. However, based on prior research, one can assume that CNN producers created this form of coverage to engage its audience and give them a sense of understanding. As stated by Wessels, Anderson, Durrant, and Ellis (2012), producers form messages in a way to will make an audience feel connected to the story (p. 203). Therefore, this gives us an understanding as to why CNN covered this particular story from several different angles. In doing so, the producers ensure that they can attract the attention of individuals who might not be personally connected to the story.

Along with this, CNN’s use of a flight simulator can be described as a way to place viewers within the flight so that they could feel connected to the passengers. As described by Wessels et al. (2012), producers use imaging to decrease the distance between the viewer and the story (p. 202). By decreasing the distance, the producers can create a relationship between the viewer and the victims, participants, etc. Once the relationship occurs, the viewer may become emotionally connected to the story and they will continue to watch the program. This is interesting because the relationship might occur even if the program does not provide any relevant information or facts to help clarify the story or help the viewer come to a conclusion.

Through the processes described above, CNN develops what Wessels et al. describes as a socio-narratology because they form meanings in the missing flight story that a viewer cannot find in other networks. Therefore, the viewer will only come to CNN to watch its coverage because they know the anchors will continue to shape the meaning that is relatable to them. With this in mind, one can argue that CNN is actually doing an effective job of communicating with its audience even though it is not providing facts, relevant updates, or useful information.

Marinaleda: A Case Study for Micro-Regional Identity

A recent NPR article discussed a small town in Spain that is living in their own united bubble while the rest of the country lives under a different set of rules and regulations. Marinaleda is a small town in the south of Spain with a population of 2,700 residents. The article highlights its Mayor, Juan Manuel Sanchez Gordillo, and his efforts to decrease unemployment, fight capitalism, and the economic crisis affecting the region. Some of these efforts include, preventing multinational corporations from opening stores in the town, having residents take ownership in street cleaning procedures, and providing land and building materials for any resident who wants to build a house.

The article also discusses legal trouble for the mayor because he went into supermarkets and stole food to give to less fortunate residents. It goes on to discuss how the rest of the region has a higher unemployment rate, a higher level of general wealth inequality, and charges agricultural subsidies to other towns. These differences between the town and the rest of the region display two of Pries’ (2013) identities. The town of Marinaleda displays a micro-regional identity even though regions in and near Spain a structured in a macro-regional identity. As stated by Pries (2013), the micro-regional identity claims that some organizations display a shift to governmental structures autonomous from the State or regional government organizations.  

The article also states that Mayor Sanchez Gordillo is facing possible jail time for stealing food from a big chain supermarket. This shows that the big food chain and the other leaders in the region might be putting pressure on the mayor to conform to the rules and regulations of the region. As stated by Kim (2008), the pressure is a stress that will force the mayor and residents to adapt to capitalism. This means that the town will lose its identity that has made it an ideal location for its residents. With that in mind, we are left to wonder if deculturation and acculturation are beneficial for the town and its residents.

Bibliography

Kim, Y. Y. (2008). Intercultural personhood: Globalization and a way of being. International Journal of Intercultural Relations, 32, 359-368.

Pries, L. (2013). Ambiguities of global and transnational collective identities. Global Networks, 13(1), 22-40.

Unionized Efforts in Different Parts of the World

This week, The Huffington Post reported on a failed attempt to unionize workers at a Volkswagen production plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee. Volkswagen, a German company, has a “works council” model in Germany to represent its blue collar and salaried employees. They wanted to bring this model to the United States to have representation for their workers. However, under United States law, they cannot create the “works council” without labeling it as an independent union. This one requirement caused tension with local elected officials who were not enamored by the concept of unionized labor in their area. Therefore, they worked up a coup to defeat the unionizing efforts of the company and some employees.

As it relates to globalization, this is a significant development because it displays one way that the United States enforces its practices on other countries and corporations from those countries. As stated by Giddens (2000), the United States is leading the globalization efforts and strongly influencing the actions by others (p. 22). In this case, elected officials are enforcing their beliefs onto others by claiming that the “works council” union would harm the plant and all of its employees. Therefore, it influenced the opinion of employees even though they were open to the “works council” concept.

The article does not detail any awareness efforts by Volkswagen to display any distinctions between American unions and the German “works council” model. With that being said, the article discusses the beliefs of the employees based on the history of unionized efforts in other automotive industries. This includes concerns about the plant closing, decreasing wages, etc. This is similar to what Giddens (2000) calls “manufactured risks” (p. 44) because they are risks formed by the knowledge that the employees have about unions.

Since they don’t have knowledge about “workers council,” they only make their decisions based on the history of what they do know unions in the United States. Therefore, as described by Giddens (2000), the employees are instilling a “precautionary principle” (p. 50) because they do not have enough evidence to believe that a union would bring them benefits in their current employment. Therefore, they chose to stick with their traditions and stay without unionized support.

 

Bibliography

Giddens, A. (2000). Runaway world: How globalization is reshaping our lives. New York: Routledge.

 

Corporations Blocking New Media Application from Providing Services

Aereo is an application that lets you view and record live, over-the-air television programs over the internet from various types of devices (i.e., smartphone, HDTV, tablets) for just $8 per month in the New York area.  This is a great deal for people who do not want to spend hundreds of dollars for television service when they only watch seven to ten of the channels.  Even though this is a great concept for most people, a new report from VentureBeat suggests that multi-billion dollar companies are starting to target Aereo since it is a threat to their profit margin.  The National Football League (NFL) and Major League Baseball (MLB) collaborated with other broadcasting companies to request government intervention against Aereo for alleged copyright infringement.

This is an interesting development in technology because it shows the strength of open source software and technology entrepreneurs.  During the past few years, we’ve seen the success of websites such as Netflix and Hulu but these companies get funds from movie, cable, and broadcasting companies.  Aereo does not receive funds from any of these organizations.  Therefore, they are not bound by any agreement or restrictions due to receiving funds from the organizations.  This is a benefit to the consumer because we get to choose a provider that does not charge a ridiculous amount of money for programming.  Some individuals are not able to afford a monthly $17 charge for a DVR plus a $69 charge for cable service.  Therefore, an $8 charge for over-the-air viewing and recording service is beneficial to them.  As we move forward, we must advocate for more access to services like Aereo before they are revoked my multi-billion dollar corporations.