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Global News Perspectives on the Information Age

Silvia, Tony, ed. Global News Perspectives on the Information Age. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. 2001. ISBN 0-8138-0256-3. 199 pages.

Reviewed by James Piecowye, College of Communication and Media Sciences, Zayed University, Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

This second edition of Global News edited by Tony Silvia and subtitled 'Perspectives on the Information Age' might have been more aptly subtitled 'Perspectives on CNN'. For this book Silvia has assembled a group of authors who unabashedly promote the case for understanding CNN, or at the very minimum, American media as a global news source. The mostly positive light CNN is painted in by Silvia and his colleagues is at the same time both the positive and negative aspects of this text.

The sixteen chapters in Global News are loosely grouped into four parts: Global News in the International Marketplace, Global News and Cultural Values, Global News and the Reporting Process, and Global News and the Future. Through these four parts a general portrait of CNN and how it positions itself within the global media marketplace is embarked upon.

The first two sections of this text are by far the strongest in attempting to ascertain what it is that facilitates American media's global penetration. Jonos Hovort in chapter four suggested that it might be the narrative genre which is employed by the American media which leads to a unified interpretation of a day's events that makes it so alluring to a global audience. The door to critical discussion is opened and then quickly closed when Hovort suggests that the technological prowess of American media institutions often leads to it being cast as near-perfect while in reality American journalism itself may not be nearly as advanced as the technology delivering it.

As a preliminary reader on the mindset behind American media this text is admirable and does begin to tease out some interesting ideas. Wolf Blitzer, the host of CNN's Late Edition, in the Foreword to the text suggests that indeed what this text is about is paying homage to CNN and the perceived impact it has had on the global media process. Silvia never really attempts to add to the current field of international communication, instead satisfying himself with making the case for CNN as the international standard for global media.

What is truly troubling about this text is the fact that it approaches the subject matter of global news and the information age without acknowledging the critical debate that has been taking place for several years. Ingrid Volkmer has argued, very convincingly, in her CNN News in the Global Sphere (1999), that universal communication targeting is actually on the decline and more realistically what is becoming the norm for today's media are particular political interests being propagated worldwide. In Global Communications, International Affairs in the Media 1945 (1997) Philip M. Taylor has suggested that the media itself has its own agenda and must be understood as an industry with its product being information. However Silvia's Global News would appear to be arguing the opposite case. Despite falling short on many fronts this text serves as a good sampler of the many issues confronting international news and global communication. Global News, edited by Tony Silvia and subtitled 'Perspectives on the Information Age,' might have been more aptly subtitled 'Perspectives on CNN'. For this book Silvia has assembled a group of authors who unabashedly promote the case for understanding CNN, or at the very minimum, American media as a global news source. The mostly positive light CNN is painted in by Silvia and his colleagues is at the same time both the positive and negative aspects of this text.

The sixteen chapters in Global News are loosely grouped into four parts: Global News in the International Marketplace, Global News and Cultural Values, Global News and the Reporting Process, and Global News and the Future. Through these four parts a general portrait of CNN and how it positions itself within the global media marketplace is embarked upon.

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