Reporting Live: Expats, Media and Self-Identity
This morning I was sitting at my desk reading the news when an unconsidered thought popped into my head: What is global news going to look like when I leave? While that may seem like a strange question, it’s something that really made me think about America and its global standing.
Despite our claims of being the most powerful and significant nation in the world, we are geographically isolated. We are entirely separated from most powerhouse states, including all of Europe. This isolation doesn’t seem so important when you’re inside the boundaries of the 50 states because of our inflated sense of self, but I’m curious how long-term removal from the United States’ boundaries will impact not only how I react to U.S. and global news, but also how that news will be framed.
As an academic, I hope that I’ll be able to analyze these differences with a critical eye. As an explorer, I trust I’ll duly note the differences and revel in their seeming novelty. As a young graduate, I’m certain I’ll read and react with hungry anticipation. But what does this mean for my worldview?
The news frames conceptions not only of ourselves, but also the community around us. It is not only a critical outlet for political maneuvering, but also a tool for social control and promotion of collective consciousness. News, simply, is tailored for its audience, with every word meticulously chosen. Through framing, news outlets are able to determine what is deemed social progress and what is chaos; who is included with us and who is against us; how we should identify and how to react. These collective responses to the media help embolden our ties to one another and create an in-group that shares a common identity.
“Frames are organizing principles that are socially shared and persistent over time, that work symbolically to meaningfully structure the social world.”
Despite the fact that I have spent a significant time not inside the United States, my identity is still largely predicated on my “Americanness.” Good, bad, or ugly, this is an identity that will be tampered with after I relocate. After talking to numerous friends that have relocated, it seems that there are two options: that identity will either grow and strengthen, or it will weaken and begin to dissolve. Either way, a struggle on how to cope with an increased sense of American-self in a foreign land, or with the loss of a long-standing personality is imminent and unavoidable.
I’m curious, then, as to how my view on American politics and global positioning will change. I wonder how that will impact my identity as an American. I’m curious how that will collide with my identity as an expat. These are all questions that are swirling around my head as I prepare to disembark this fall. Until I arrive, though, the only thing I can do is wait, expect and prepare.
Let me know your personal struggles with news, media and identity below!
(Above quote taken from this amazing PDF of a book on News and Framing. If you’re interested in how the media shapes our self- and collective identity, click here!)