The Washington Post's Anne Applebaum has an interesting column today noting that different countries will play the same news differently, and that news consumers will flock toward providers who reflect their own biases. This diversity seems to alarm her:
[I]n the world of globalized information, where just about any newspaper or television program in any language is available at the click of a mouse, this isn't supposed to happen anymore. Nowadays we're all supposed to know what everybody else is thinking, to have access to the same images and information, and some of us do. [?]
Strangest of all, the availability of alternative points of view doesn't appear to have mellowed anyone's prejudices—quite the contrary. Nowadays, we all live under the illusion that we are receiving many different types of information, but that we select only the most plausible.
Reading news from thousands of different sources hasn't mellowed anyone's prejudices? Think of how Baghdad blogger Salam Pax put a human face on the Iraqi people, and contrast that to the way Americans talked about Iranians in 1979 and 1980. And is it possible that some consumers—just like Applebaum!—are sophisticated enough to realize that even their favorite news sources have editorial slants? I think so. Here's the money shot:
The prophets of globalization once spoke of a seamless, borderless world, in which national differences would magically disappear. They were wrong.
Said "prophets"—who sound suspiciously like John Lennon—go unnamed. Meanwhile, some fans of globalization have noted that it has created vibrant cultural competition, as opposed to a world dancing to the exact same drummer. This is a good thing.