From Publishers Weekly
Mapping the first large-scale shift away from Western media dominance since the advent of television, Seib (Headline Democracy
) argues that framing conflict in the Middle East as a clash of civilizations has outlived its polemical and practical uses. The book makes a convincing case that the rise of Al Jazeera—with its audience of 35 million—reflects how satellite television and the Internet create virtual communities that can significantly influence political policy. Seib cites the example of Hezbollah, a geopolitical group without easily definable territory, and suggests that Al Qaeda is similarly a virtual state existing through the combination of communication and political will. Information is no longer the province of a political elite, according to the author whose wide-ranging evidence includes a fascinating description of how news of the SARS outbreak in China first leaked via text message and in Internet chatrooms. The author also examines how the constant proliferation of perspectives on the Internet, for example, can both mitigate and exacerbate problems of assimilation. Seib constructs an imaginative, thorough and balanced assessment of how news—ever more a dialogue and less an event—is redistributing political power. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Beyond what was called the “CNN effect” 10 years ago, when news went global 24/7, Al Jazeera is producing its own effect, helping to promote an “unprecedented cohesion in the worldwide Muslim community.” It is part of the rising prominence of nontraditional non-Western media, seeping through the Internet, radio, and satellite television to deliver news in ways and from viewpoints that have not been widely heard. Seib, a journalism professor, examines how the new global media are developing and the long-range implications for global politics. Qatar-based Al Jazeera, along with other Islamic communications, is influencing everything from democratization to terrorism, even creating “virtual states” that are as much a danger and influence in the Middle East as actual states. Seib outlines the major players in the shifting media world as well as the informal bloggers in China and other nations who are bringing new perspectives to news coverage. This is a compelling look at how changes in communication are reshaping geopolitics. --Vanessa Bush