Date: Wed, 8 Mar 1995 15:50:38 EST
Sender: Internationally-Oriented Computer-Assisted Reporting List <INTCAR-L@LISTSERV.AMERICAN.EDU>
Subject: New global info paradigm

Communication: Towards a New Global Information Paradigm

By Roberto Savio, Interpres s Service. 1 March, 1995.

ROME, Mar (IP S) - The creation of a new global information system is a matter that calls for urgent attention by communicators worldwide.

This need emerges from the fact that we are entering a new era, in which an entire set of ideas that have been fundamental over the last 50 years are being abandoned, or their influence radically reduced.

At the same time, new factors are bursting forcefully on the scene, impossible to understand if analysed in an isolated and incomplete fashion.

Ideas such as international cooperation or solidarity are rapidly losing ground, while development aid has drastically fallen off, from an annual average of 0.45 to 0.20 percent of Gross Domestic Product - an over 50 percent drop - among member countries of the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development.

A similar, although more moderate, tendency is occurring in the policies of the United Nations.

Issues from the South have also steadily been losing relevance in some areas of the North, and will be dealt with in a new fashion in upcoming years due to the enormous changes seen in recent times.

At the turn of the century, Latin America will include few recipients of development aid, as by then the majority of the region's countries will have a per capita income that will make them ineligible for such aid.

Indeed, several Asian countries have already joined the group of nations with an intermediate level of development.

Furthermore, the North has also been transformed.

This can be seen by a glance at the United States, a testing ground for the process of globalisation, where in the last 11 years, the middle class has shrunk 12 percent.

Of that 12 percent, one percent became wealthy - the United States today has more rich inhabitants than ever before - but 11 percent became poor, causing the number of U.S. inhabitants living in extreme poverty to rise to over 30 million.

Thus, the gap separating rich from poor is steadily widening, while in Europe a dramatic splintering of society can be seen, accompanied by political processes in which citizens participate less and less in the public life of their countries.

Even realism and logic have failed, demonstrated by the international community's incapacity to effectively intervene in Somalia or Bosnia.

The international community spent 940 million dollars to distribute 80 million dollars worth of food in Somalia, and virtually all development plans for that area are in a state of crisis.

On the other hand, the amount of capital in circulation is so high that it escapes the control of any government, made clear by the fact that Central Banks have gradually given up controlling currencies, concentrating instead on curbing inflation.

Growing globalisation thus steadily reduces the ability of the state to play a strong national role, while people become increasingly indifferent, and political parties are seen more and more as power machines.

However, globalisation must not be seen merely as a negative phenomenon, but rather as an indispensable process of adjustment, delayed far too long by the Cold War.

The growing adoption of global issues on a popular level must be pointed out, for example. People have begun to take on themes such as women's and environmental issues and human rights as global problems, above and beyond national realities.

New North-South alliances, substantially different from previously existing ones, are also emerging.

Today, the mechanisms of cooperation among civil society have a dynamism and strength lacking in official circles, which is regularly demonstrated in international conferences.

But international communication media fail to treat these complex and contradictory processes in their true dimension.

It is impossible for today's information network, which focuses basically on events, to provide a complete vision of what is happening in the world.

As long as this system favours only known factors - the state, capital, local elites - the analyses will remain incomplete and biassed.

It is not enough to have three, four or five correspondents; there is a need for extended, closely connected structures capable of reflecting broader tendencies and processes, as well as the full range of diverse actors that build those new realities.

This model of communication must be constructed now, with all eyes trained on the 21st century.

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