Istanbul, December 10, 2010
SPEECH OF ATHANSE PAPANDROPOULOS
INTERNATIONAL MEDIA SYMPOSIUM
On behalf of the Association
of European Journalists and its 3000 members all over Europe,
I beg leave to thank you for the extremely kind invitation in
this important Symposium. I’ m also very honored to be one
of the opening speakers in this great assembly of journalists,
politicians and important people who work in the information and
Both the AEJ and I agree that in fact the media world is rapidly
being transformed and information management thinking is racing
to keep pace. The result is a bewildering profusion of information
and communication theories, concepts and fashions that often replace
each other before they can become widely established. Attempting
to bring coherence to this fast-fusion of media ideas is potentially
dangerous. However, we believe it is possible to discern emerging
trends in the development of man media paradigms, defining paradigms
of means of understanding the world and the basis for informing
We believe that development of new ideas is essential for effectively
interpreting and intervening in contemporary journalists’
world. The increasing number of sophisticated paradigms makes
greater intellectual demands upon journalists but need to be understood
rather than ignored. This today makes the job of being a journalist
a great deal more complex and demanding than ever before, but
also makes journalism a more creative and exciting activity.
I fully agree with the spirit of the organization of this International
Media Symposium that changes as we live in our days and always
brings with it new questions to be answered. When the change in
question concerns the media, an object with a wide sphere of influence,
the topics to be discussed become all the more varied and sophisticated.
Globalization and the widespread use of advanced communication
technologies worldwide have shaken media traditions to the core.
Considerations about impartiality, objectivity and social welfare
to one side, even freedom of press has become a concept to be
“revaluated”. Any individual who enters the media
network now carries the identity of “information receiver”
as well as “information transmitter”. Both professional
roles and the limits of freedom have been redefined. This new
development is as surprising as it is exciting for our societies.
Understanding and answering the new questions requires, philosophically
speaking, a new paradigm. The concept of paradigm is at once ancient
and contemporary. Its name derives from the ancient Greek work
paradeigma. Classically, it meant model, framework, pattern or
example and this meaning survived to the present day. Different
concepts of management paradigms have been a the centre of critical
debate in recent years and the notion of changing paradigms captures
the flux of organizational transformation resulting form the surging
changes in the business environment.
It was an historian of science, Thomas Kuhn, who pioneered the
idea of changing paradigms in The Structure of Scientific Revolution
(1970). For Kuhn, science was characterized by the dominance of
succeeding paradigms as models of thinking or, as he put it, “a
constellation of concepts, values, perceptions and practices shared
by a community which forms a particular vision of reality that
is the way of community organizes itself”. A paradigm is
a systematic net of ideas and values, methods and problem fields,
as well as standard solutions that explain the world and inform
action. “It’s the way we see the world –not
in terms of our visual sense of sight, but in terms of perceiving,
Ever since it`s important to replace the certainties of ideologies
and value systems that were with industrialization over the last
century in a new era. It is not easy. Facts and transformations
are moving very fast. For instance, according to the BBC News,
as people find new ways to access news in a post-print world,
so the demand on those that deliver is changing and this new media
age could perhaps bring with it a better kind of journalism. Journalism
may be on the edge of a great new age.
How good have we been, honestly, at telling the truth to the powerful?
When a crisis blows up, or a problem of deep complexity has to
be confronted, few reporters have the specialist knowledge of
time to really confront government or a company. Further, the
daily competition for newness –always on to the nest story,
the next headline– means the media’s attention span
has been limited. Too rarely do we return to stories that have
“faded away” and ask, what happened next? Our appetite
for long-term campaigning and focus fritters away. Fast news has
had the same effect on our minds as fast food has had on our physiques.
The next media age may be differently configured. We may have
a group of very large “aggregators” bringing busy
people the most important new news of the day, rather as now,
but there will be fewer of them. But underneath that, we will
have large numbers of specialist news sites –for specific
companies and sectors, for different environmental issues, for
overseas crises –which bring together journalists, academics,
specialists, campaigners, professionals, lobbyists and so on.
These will be where the expertise and longer-term attention span
will be found. They will pile the pressure onto the powerful and
keep asking the questions. And from time to time their work will
break upwards, to the aggregators (we need a better word) and
the global headlines. Or so I hope. There is the real chance of
a better kind of journalism in all this.
Under these circumstances, I think that the subject of the Symposium,
“Global versus Local”, will provide a fertile discussion
about hot topics and will help to clarify some of the questions
that have arisen as a result of the change that has occurred in
the media. Everybody involved in the media and information industries
knows that the spread of global communication technologies and
global media companies has helped create a world of globalized
culture. The global nature of the new communication networks means
that individuals can consume journalism made all over the world
and discuss it across national boundaries.
One result is that the intellectual property rights involved in
news are made more valuable. More important, journalism has become
a multidirectional force field, rather than the one-way street
of the traditional newspaper or television news bulletin. Also,
because the technology of news-making and distribution is much
cheaper and simpler, almost anyone can join the journalistic melee.
Today’s newsrooms are, essentially, collections of networked
personal computers. Today’s mobile phones can record and
transmit pictures, sound and text, turning them into primitive
television stations. The interplay between mobile phone traffic,
live television, and other news media around the September 11th
terrorist attacks on America provided a compelling illustration
of the way that contemporary political struggles interact with
private and public media.
It is now a routine for consumers to receive 200 or 300 television
channels, rather than three or four. Radio, rather than being
squashed by television, has entered a new and dramatic growth
phase, with radio services accessible by computer, digital television,
satellite and mobile telephone. Meanwhile, so-called “pod-casting”
has emerged as a technology allowing producers of “radio”
programs to share them as digital files with owners of devices
like the “I-pod”. Newspapers, although under pressure
for share of advertising markets and reader time, are today able
to print at low cost in multiple sites, rather than moving vast
quantities of newsprint by road or rail over large distances.
They too encounter global possibilities. Magazine titles, supremely
well-suited to targeting niches in increasingly fragmented media
markets, have also found new opportunities. No medium can target
readers across the whole social-demographic spectrum as effectively
In television, satellite communications and digital editing make
it possible for reporters to transmit stories more or less from
anywhere to anywhere, and for editors to process them rapidly
for broadcast or internet.
When I started as professional journalist, 44 years ago, the most
difficult part of the job was the length of the queue at the local
telex station. Today, news is multimedia, instant, global and
ubiquitous. But I think that the era of local journalism just
started. Global firms that sell only homogeneous content are less
likely to have an audience. For this reason, multinational companies
localize the content with where it will be broadcast in mind.
An example of this is MTV –although there is a recognizable
MTV content in Brazil the program is determined by local producers.
An example of the importance of local content is in the local
news and the public interest in local stories that will impact
their existence. CNN International is one example of a company
that recognizes the importance of localizing content. American
content has decreased from 70 percent in 1996 to 8 percent in
2007. The news media is not the only outlet where local global
content has an impact. Even on the internet, language serves as
one of the most important boundaries on Web surfing. In February
2001, Google reported that English accounted for 70 percent of
the languages used to access its site. By January 2002, English
accounted for 57 percent and was just over 50% in 2003. Global
Reach shows the diversity of language online.
On the internet companies offer geo-location services enabling
websites to determine the physical locations of individual users
to find the internet-access point nearest to a particular spot.
Google sponsored a contest, from which the creation of geographic
tags was invented. The inventor wrote software that added “geotags”
to pages based on the analysis of postal code and address. Homogenous
global content is not substitute for communication on a local
level as indicated by the direction that international news services
are taking. People are interested in the things that affect them
and hence will always be a call for local content in communication.
For all these reasons, as I already mentioned, we need a new information
and media paradigm.
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