Does global media exist? This question has come about more than a few times in some conferences I have attended recently. The question is more focused on the supply side of the equation whereby media houses are shown as flooding the audience at large with a filtered view of national and international events. These events, besides being supposedly chosen specifically, are also chiselled and polished to represent a certain angle of things. The more popular term for such a flooding is ‘propaganda’. However, the whole process is indeed a lot murkier than a simplified ‘propaganda’ branding.

The whole concept of global media is, in itself, a false premise because it is based on some assumptions. For example, the only way global media can exist is if there exists a global audience. Media , much like any business, works solely on the existence of demand. The audience demands news bites and analysis and those demanded are presented in the form of both raw and edited media packages. In line with that, it is safe to propagate that the two form a causal relationship whereby the demand generates the supply. While the other way round too applies in patches and niches, the whole concept is largely dependent on social and personal psychology, putting the consumer in the driver seat than the other way round.

If global media exists, it would hence assume an existence of a global audience. However, even in this time and age of aggressive globalisation, theorists and academics agree that the localization, or the rooting to local norms and traditions, is far from extinct. From tourists to immigrants to asylum seekers, all focus on aspects, be they directly or indirectly related to them, through the localized lens of biases and presumptions. These biases don’t have to be nationalist in nature and can and do include the underlying of cultural, ethnic and social contexts. With this in mind, can one really presume a world audience for a global media entity? Definitely not.

This is important for the Pakistani thought process. Too long have we been fixated on paranoia and conspiracy theories. Besides ignoring our personal and social shortfalls, we tend to blame the world at large for all the weaknesses that exist within us. Of course Pakistan is not a unique case. Many countries tend to do this. However, just being part of this clump has its problems.

Pakistan is not Russia and China, two economic and political giants who tend to fall in line with the same group Pakistan is unfortunately part of. These two tend to block away media avenues in order to present a surreal reality to the locals. This, as can be imagined, works for their systems. Russia continues to be an autocracy, failing to guarantee its citizens basic human rights. The Chinese too tend to obsess over a nationalist identity that is created and reaffirmed through rigorous social engineering and training. These countries hence completely annihilate the concept of global media by putting in stringent filters onto what is and can be viewed in their proximities. In order to justify their actions, they indulge in reverse propaganda, something fairly common in Pakistan. The said propaganda nurtures and cements hostility and awe against selected countries and ways of thinking. The two giants can and will indulge in such experiments because they can survive alone. Russia has been doing so even after the collapse of USSR. It continues to act as a separate entity with more ever increasing economic and political prowess via cunning interjections both directly or indirectly. China, with its remarkable engineering skills and ever cheap labour, has become an economic giant that continues to be a formidable challenge for economies world over. However, Pakistan with no such strengths ends up losing a lot in this vague game of role playing.

The most cited claim to such behaviours is manipulation by the global media . A majority believes that western powers tend to effect the way of thinking of a layman by influencing the information available to them. This is taken as an excuse by many to avoid the viewing or reading of international newspapers and media outlets. Somehow, the said exposure tends to be reductive in nature for this audience and is believed to do a lot more harm than gain. However, these outrageous claims are not restricted to international media alone. The local media stage too, as is claimed by a majority once again, has been infiltrated by the western powers in the form of media puppets. These anchors and analysts are said to be financed by the powers that be and work towards the demolition of the Pakistani social infrastructure.

They hence present the western agenda to the audience and hence need to be avoided if the country is to maintain a national identity.

Taking this back to the global media discussion, does this claim at all hold ground? By believing in such an ability, are we not falling into the trench of assumptions that I have already argued is unsustainable? Can, hence, everyone view a news bite in the same manner as the viewer or reader next to them? Of course not. How then, can we assume a social engineering through the media venues? Why then, do we feel vulnerable and affected? The country has much thinking to do before it starts believing in boogymans of its own making. The country has much to procrastinate.