The Media and Cultural Belonging

When you are traveling and you turn on the TV in your hotel what is the first channel you look for? For me, this is an easy brainer, its CNN. When I travel outside of the US or even within the US, I turn to CNN to bring me a sense of home and comfort. For others, when they travel, finding food from their own state or area brings them this same sense of comfort but for me, its watching CNN or reading the New York Times. At home, I constantly have CNN on in the background of whatever else I am doing. Therefore, when I am out of my own culture or comfort zone, watching CNN is something I can depend on to link me back to home and my daily routine.  Even when I lived in the Czech Republic for 4 months and I did not have a TV, I was able to stream and watch CNN from my computer, filing my gap of lost connection to home.

In the article “Media and the Reinvention of the Nation,” author Silvio Waisbord notes that the media has the ability nurture a sense of home, collectivity, and community linked to our nationhood to each of us (389). From watching CNN, reading an American newspaper, or going to see an American movie when I am living abroad allows me to feel like I am once again connected to back home. From living in an era where the media is part of my everyday life, when I loose it, I am out of my comfort zone. I am not saying that it is not nice to go a week or so without watching tv or reading the newspaper, but for me that that week is a week of escaping reality. Therefore, the media is a part of my reality and without it, I feel lost.

Waisbord takes this notion further by explaining that the media provides a cultural sense of something to hold onto in the world, hence, cultural belonging. This demonstrate the extreme power and impact that the media has on each of us. The sense of belonging and community is something that almost all humans strive for. I feel as though CNN has a power over me and that my day doesn’t seem fulfilled if I haven’t read the newspaper or watch a good amount of CNN. I am not sure if I am ok with this notion, that I depend on something so much to feel satisfied and connected, but I am happy that I can at least acknowledge it.

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2 Responses to The Media and Cultural Belonging

  1. jhenske says:

    I think it’s really interesting that you turn on CNN and pick up an American newspaper when you travel, because I do the opposite. Often my favorite part of a trip is sitting in a coffee shop reading the English version of the local newspaper. This is especially true in countries where the Media is censored. I was lucky enough to go to Egypt in 2007, and I still have articles from the paper there that were just too interesting to throw away. In China, reading about the successes in battling the smog in Beijing whilst looking out the hotel window unable to see the buildings across the street was similarly entertaining.

  2. qiong xie says:

    I think you made a very good point. Just like Weaver in his keynote address points out that one does not know his/her own culture so clearly until one left their own original country. I think that is true. So each one of us , when we travel abroad, while walking in the streets surrounded by people who talk the “foreign language” and even dress differently from us, then we might realize that what it means to be our own culture, since we can compare our culture with the foreign country while we temporarily stay.

    Also, your anecdote about watching CNN and reading New York Times is very interesting. To some degree, I also agree that “media can nurture a sense of home, collectivity, and community linked to our nationhood to each one of us”. I also want to say a foreigner can also be influenced by the local media. For example, I have been studying in US for four years, so for me, watching CNN and listen to NPR on my laptop, is also kind of routine. What I want to claim by using my personal story is media can influence people’s life and shape people’s world value, for better or worse!

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