Saturday, March 03, 2007

"The technical gadget that Americans are most in need of"

"THE TECHNICAL gadget that Americans are most in need of, it's been said, is a hearing aid. Too many of them are prone to lecture, hector, and otherwise pressure much of the rest of the world, in the far from touching belief that the American way is the only way" writes Professor Ramesh Thakur in today's Hindu. Professor Thakur, as many of you may know, is the Vice-Rector of the United Nations University (UNU) in Japan. The article reflects on the lack of interest of mainstream US media to give space to opinion from other parts of the world. He proposes a very interesting idea that might be able to address this problem:

why do the major newspapers (of India or the South) not organise a reciprocal exchange of columns — we will publish as many of your articles per month as you take of ours? Or do we share the westerners' implicit belief that what they have to say on any and every topic is important for the whole world to know; but what we have to say about our own affairs may perhaps be worth considering, but otherwise we should know our place and stay there?
I hope some editors take this up! However, there is an even deeper problem with respect to the mainstream media outlets in the West, especially Canada and North America. These societies have large disaporic populations, especially first generation immigrants who maintain strong linkages with their countries of origin. How many of these members of Canadian and American societies are visible in the media? With their own voices and perspectives? Their inclusion occurs along two trajectories. Either they are there simply as exihibits of diversity and multiculturalism. Or, their presence is in particular "enclaves" as in BBC's Asian Network or the various "ethnic" channels on television. Sure, they fulfil a need for those communities and provide a great (and ever explanding) market. But this is not a substitute for a fully inclusive and representative media in highly diverse and cosmopolitan societies. I wonder how we could solve this one..

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