Monday, August 6, 2012

International Mass Media: July 23

By Lindsay Boyle

On Monday, July 23, the fifth International Mass Media summer course was held in Copeland Hall at the Ohio University campus. During each class, two SUSI scholars give a lecture about their own country’s media systems, journalism practices and political cultures. All of the lectures are streamed live through Ohio University distance learning and are available online to 35 students who are taking a summer class instructed by Dr. Brook Beshah.

The SUSI summer institute — in which scholars from all over the world come to the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism at OU to study journalism and media — is funded by an annual renewable grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Study of the U.S. Branch in the Office of Academic Exchange Programs.

Dr. Huei Lan Wang

Dr. Huei Lan Wang, the scholar from Taiwan, began her presentation with a personal background describing her education, work experience, academic memberships and research areas.

She then briefly introduced Nanhua University, where she is an assistant professor. It was established in 1996, includes five colleges and has sister schools in more than 20 countries.

Wang also briefly explained the history and demographics of Taiwan, which is officially known as the Republic of China. Although Taiwan spent more than 35 years of the 20th century under martial law, it now operates as a multi-party democracy. Its population is 23 million.

When martial law was instated in 1949, new newspapers were banned in Taiwan, Wang explained. However, martial was lifted in 1988, and since then, several laws have worked to increase the media’s freedom and to allow new media outlets to exist.

Media in Taiwan are affiliated with many different things, including the government, political parties, businesses and more. According to Wang, there are about 1,900 domestic news agencies. The biggest, Central News Agency, provides news in Chinese, English and Spanish, and has correspondents in 17 countries.

According to Wang, newspaper readership was at its highest in 1991, but is now around 40 percent. The top four papers in Taiwan are Liberty Times, Apple Daily, United Daily News and China Times.

SUSI scholars and staff listen as scholar Dr. Huei Lan Wang presents a lecture that is streamed live through OU distance learning, and is available online.

In Taiwan, there are more than 8,000 magazines that cover a wide variety of topics. However, Wang said books are less likely to succeed. They typically need to sell more than 5,000 copies to be profitable, but most do not sell more than 3,000.

Of the 171 existing radio stations in Taiwan, Wang said that 141 of them were established after 1993. Some stations, such as Radio Taiwan International, broadcast in more than 10 languages.

Wang explained that there are also many different television stations in Taiwan, a country that has the highest television penetration rate in the Asia-Pacific region. Television in Taiwan is expected to switch from analog to digital in the near future.

Taiwan is considered a leading e-society in Asia, according to Wang. Cell phone and Internet usage rates are high, and citizen journalism networks and social media websites are very popular. Overall, the country has a liberal stance on Internet regulation, and the media is, in general, free.

Wang described her experience presenting as “wonderful and unique,” and said she has really enjoyed listening to others’ presentations. She has especially enjoyed the discussions that come afterward because of the insightful questions that are asked.

“I have gained many different perspectives on other colleagues' thoughts, stimulating me to not only expand my knowledge about other countries' media structures, but also to treasure their rich and diverse cultures,” she said.

Prof. Karlyga Myssayeva

Professor Karlyga Myssayeva, the scholar from Kazakhstan, first spoke about her institution, Al-Farabi Kazakh National University. She then gave a brief overview of Kazakhstan, which is the ninth largest country in the world.

She explained that there are about 2,970 registered media in Kazakhstan. The majority are newspapers and magazines, while about 240 are electronic media such as TV channels and radio stations. In addition, there are about 2,400 foreign media outlets that distribute in the country, including the BBC, CNN, Deutsche Welle and Freedom Radio Station.

As far as ownership goes, Myssayeva said that about 75 percent of media are not government-owned. A combination of social associations, political parties and movements, and religious organizations own much of the media. According to Myssayeva, the media cover many different topics.

Of the nearly 1,300 periodicals published in Kazakhstan, Myssayeva said that most are printed in Kazakh, Russian or both, while about 130 are printed in various other languages.

Additionally, TV programs broadcast in up to 12 languages, and radio stations broadcast in six. Myssayeva explained that the government often provides financial support to mass media outlets owned by ethnic minorities. There are about 100 TV channels and radio stations total in Kazakhstan, as well as satellite TV stations such as Caspionet.

Myssayeva explained that there are many popular newspapers in Kazakhstan—some that are government-backed, others that are considered opposition papers, and some that are simply private. Those include Kazakhstanskava Pravda, Vremya, Zhas Alash, Karavan and more.

According to Myssayeva, the Internet in Kazakhstan is quickly developing, and there are thousands of Kazakh blogs. However, the most popular social website is Vkontakte, rather than Facebook, Twitter or YouTube.

SUSI scholar Dr. Aysha Abughazzi asks scholar Karlyga Myssayeva a question during her lecture that is streamed live through OU distance learning, and is available online.

In Kazakhstan, there are two primary news agencies: Kazinform and Interfax Kazakhstan. Additionally, Myssayeva said that more than 80 accredited representatives of foreign mass media from 20 countries reside in Kazakhstan. There are also more than 15 non-governmental organizations working to improve different aspects of media in Kazakhstan.

Shortly after gaining independence in the early 1990s, Myssayeva said that mass media actively progressed. However, toward the end of that decade, many popular, independent TV and radio stations that criticized the state authority were closed.

Now, Myssayeva said that media need to work on improving quality while keeping risks in mind. She said that many reporters and editors are interested in and willing to attend trainings and seminars. However, she also explained that the development of media in Kazakhstan greatly depends on the political situation in the country.

Though media in other countries act as governmental watchdogs, Myssayeva said that media in Kazakhstan are more likely to cover ongoing events rather than act as analysts who predict future developments. She pointed out that, according to both Freedom House and Reporters without Borders, Kazakhstan mass media is not free.

Myssayeva said she was excited but also sometimes uncomfortable during her presentation, because giving a presentation in English was not easy for her. However, she said that it turned out well, and that many people in the audience asked her questions.

She said that her experience with the course has been incredible. Because she teaches International Mass Media at her university, she is looking forward to having new material for her course next semester.

“From the International Mass Media class, I found that it is never too late to learn,” she said. “All of the technical and performance skills I've learned in the class will really pay off when I'm in Kazakhstan.”

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