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Globalization of the Media: A Bicultural Woman's View.

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Introduction

Globalization of the Media: A Bicultural Woman's View Does globalization mean we're being conditioned into thinking only of CNN or Al Jazeera when disaster strikes and we need detailed news of an event? Yes, very likely, because many media in the Arab world fall short of the task of providing good, accurate, news that's to the point. Can we face globalization? Should we be part of it? What tools can we manipulate to our advantage? What role can women play in globalization of the media? Do they face obstacles? Doesn't it hurt us when foreign journalists report wrong information about us? Shouldn't we help them by making it easy to get the right information and not fall into the same trap of doing to them what they do to us? 1. NEED FOR UNDERSTANDING & BALANCED INFORMATION ON BOTH SIDES: We need more media that can understand our cultural backgrounds and societal needs on both sides of the cultural divide - i.e. those that strike a balance between accurate information and understanding of the story's background. All too often reporters are parachuted into a country to cover a hot story without having solid grounding in the subject. This applies to Arabs as well as Americans and Europeans. I've seen it happen in many countries and we need to rectify that. U.S. and European correspondents often arrive on Arab shores with no notion of what's happening in the country or the region, little or no knowledge of Arabic (or French) and expecting everyone to understand them in English, for example. Some don't do their homework and don't read about the background that led to recent conflicts, as if they exist in a vacuum. It's a major failure on their part. An American reporter I know was too scared to enter Tripoli (Lebanon) during one of the major firefights of the Lebanese civil war, took a taxi to the edge of the city, saw some exchanges from a distance, ran back to Beirut, filed the story with a Tripoli dateline and proceeded to detail the raging battle which he never really saw. ...read more.

Middle

"Empowering Arab & Muslim women is the key to eradicating terrorism at its source" was the headline of an article by Lebanese journalist Saad Mehio in The Daily Star Dec. 12, 2001. 4. RECOMMENDATIONS: With all that in mind, here are my recommendations for positive change: Women journalists should have facts ready at their fingertips, ask intelligent questions, be persistent without being obnoxious, show inconsistencies in what's being said and done, document everything, and be thorough. Arab women journalists need to learn American English fast and tune in to the nuances of official Washington before presuming to know how to cover the White House, State Department, Pentagon, Capitol Hill, etc. They also need to understand the intricacies of international finance and lending institutions if they're to cover the World Bank and IMF. They should be well versed in the language of international relations, treaties, history, geography, etc., before tackling the U.N. and its agencies. There's a lot of legwork involved. Have female economists available to speak on western business shows about their economic concerns and the common ground that exists between people from the Arab world and other parts of the world. It would strike a responsive chord. Have female engineers or physicists or doctors or lawyers available to appear on TV shows, radio programs, in print, etc., to explain how things work in Arab or Muslim countries. They would probably find more in common with their sisters in the west than differences. Above all, have articulate journalists and media experts available to answer questions about the media and other issues of concern across the cultural divide. Hollywood has enlisted former heavyweight boxing champ Mohammad Ali to help America's campaign abroad to show that the war it's launched isn't against Islam or the Arabs, but against terrorism. Why can't the Arabs enlist Omar Sharif and women stars who speak English well to do the same and address the western world to talk about the riches of the Arab world and Islam, and even Christianity in Arab countries? ...read more.

Conclusion

They don't travel extensively, they don't mix with all manner of people, and they don't even read English well enough to decipher American or British media. And yet they get paid for that. It's a disgrace. They should be dethroned. Analysis and good writing aren't done by remote control. They require involvement, getting down to the grassroots, digging for facts, and constantly communicating with people from all walks of life. We in the Arab world should also learn to handle bad news. In the West they create crisis centers to handle the flow of information in an emergency. We tend to cover up things. Why? We'd be more credible if we shared what we knew in a sober and rational way to help all those concerned, including ourselves. People will continue to stereotype Arabs and Muslims so long as Arabs and Muslims don't present their case in an effective way, away from stuffy official statements that most people don't believe anyway. We need substance. It's our job to change the negative image we have abroad. We have to bridge the cultural and media divide. Provocation won't get us anywhere. Communication will. To improve our image we need to clean up our own act, reform our methods, abide by media ethics, follow guidelines of good journalistic practice, promote transparency in our work, capitalize on our human assets, promote more women in the media to fill higher positions and provide balanced leadership. We need to coordinate better and should learn to share information among each other in a cooperative spirit. "Keep it simple and don't assume anything" are two basic rules I used to teach my journalism students. They're universal. Finally, always keep children in mind when creating a message. They're the most impressionable and valuable audience we have and they'll grow up to become tomorrow's leaders. ______ Magda Abu-Fadil, a 25-year veteran of international news organizations in Washington and the Middle East, is director of the Institute for Professional Journalists and of University Publications at the Lebanese American University. ### 1 ...read more.

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