Umair Haque / Bubblegeneration
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Design principles for 21st century companies, markets, and economies. Foreword by Gary Hamel. Coming January 4th. Pre-order at Amazon.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

International Trade

The Globe and Mail: Trading with the 'schoolyard bully'

Am I the only one who finds the US media's utter neglect of the trade crisis between US and Canada to be weird? I would've thought that a huge row making the front page in pretty well every major newspaper across the board in America's largest trading partner would deserve at least a few column inches. But then what do I know : I am just an ignorant Canuck outraged by the conduct of American trade policy.

As a strategist, I keep wondering about how I'd solve the problem of grabbing a share of the American citizen's attention minutes market for issues that are normally not seen as pertinent to their lives. It is easy to dismiss this issue with empty hand-wringing about the Ignorant American stereotypes, but it does not help the rest of the world because we end up paying a huge price for some US policies. Clearly, we're not US citizens so we're not going to have any franchise in the US electoral process but at the same time, US policies have enormous and disproportionate influence on our lives. As Kishore Mahbubani points out in The Age of innocence, "The curious paradox is that America has done more than any other country to change the world. Yet Americans are among the least prepared to cope with the world they have changed. Without intending to, America has entered the lives of most people on Earth."

I think that a lot of these idiotic policies get past the American people only as a result of the utter apathy of American media to delve upon the issues of international importance. As the latest issue of the Economist points out, in the entire year of 2004, "NBC's evening news show devoted just five minutes to the genocide in Darfur, CBS a mere three and ABC, thanks to Peter Jennings, 18. In contrast, they together devoted 130 minutes to the plight of Martha Stewart". Another example is the recent spate of bomb-blasts in Bangladesh. Hundreds of bombs going off in a volatile Islamic country was hardly deemed newsworthy in the US media.

An argument can be made that since the US media is doing only what is to be expected : they are serving exactly what their market needs. No demand, and hence no supply. At the same time, one can clearly see the need for exposure to important policy issues for a healthy debate in the US. This would then make the required media exposure to be a public good that needs to be funded by the tax payer. The recent PBS series "Foreign Exchange" by Fareed Zakaria is a case in point : Zakaria is an awesome choice as an articulate and intelligent policy pundit who would've found it hard to get this gig on CNN or CNBC.

I am still left wondering about what we as interested actors can do to participate better. There's gotta be a micromedia/peer production strategy to make this work.

-- Mahashunyam // 3:55 AM // 0 comments

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