In the twenty first century, the media has been transformed into a highly influential tool and segmented to aspects such as print, broadcast, film, outdoor and internet etc. The relationship between the media and construction of national identity is apparent with distinctive representation of nationalism in news coverage of politics, celebrations, tourism and country heritage (Leong, 2001).
National identity is the transmission of each generation’s legacy to the next and the enabling of the nation citizen to take pride and identification of the country (Stephan, 2009). A nation positive unique identity breeds patriotism which consequently result in loyalty when one can relate and acknowledge his country easily. Therefore the constructed national identity and culture forces us to acknowledge the artificiality of the nationality when the idea presented is too abstract to imagine and distant to identify.
Hence, with the help of media, the government employs concrete symbols to personify, reify and objectify the nation (Kertzer, 1988). Material objects such as flag, flower, food and products help to create a national identity and at the same time instill loyalty and belongings to the nation’s subjects by providing easily identified collectivity for the citizens. Such distinctive visual icons create a sense of belonging to the citizen and thus infuse and reinforce the national subject’s loyalty (Foster, 1991). Whereas images and symbols of explicit nationalism are constructive, what is more significant is the role of the news media in encouraging coherent recognition with the nation (Stephan, 2009).
This result in the nation being a commodity to be consumed when the government establishes culture related institutes to invent, promote or revive objects, images and act that are said to represent the nation. These commodities will be packaged and marketed via the media channel to local consumers to inculcate a sense of nationality united by the sharing of these cultural products (Foster, 1991). Commercial interest accelerated by new technologies of mass media dissemination place nation as a consumable commodity on a global scale.
Hence, as governments find construction of national identity and loyalty beneficially vital in the long term, they use media assistance to establish their status within the international community. Consequently, individual nations are compelled to dramatize conventionalized versions of their national images, asserting past glories and amplifying stereotypical differences (Wallis, 1994).
Construction of National Identity – Singapore
An example of an official nation building effort collaborated with the media, would be Singapore. In its attempts to build nation history and loyal national subject, Singapore ruling party manipulates media to perform techniques like persuasion and propaganda. The government-controlled media uses methods like repetition to shape the citizen perception and influence cognition to their advantage (W.J.Severin & J.W.Tankard, 1992). This is functional as frequent exposure of the idea increases liking and strengthen public beliefs on the high credibility of the source while preventing drop-off attitude over time (Hovland and Weiss, 1951). The media uses persuasive techniques like repetition to increase attraction on public attention and remembrance on government message.
However, as burnout may occur with overexposure of the media effort, moderation has to be practiced on the government usage of media to persuade the citizen minds and alternative means is to be sought (W.J.Severin & J.W.Tankard, 1992).
As economic growth used to be the basis of Singapore’s national identity, the government largely rejects other popular notions of national identity that contradicts the development plan such as the use of Singlish (Leong, 2001). However, when economic...