WHILE OFFICIALS and experts are still arguing about the real causes of what is now called the “Asian crisis,” one thing seems clear: There was lack of information that would have allowed officials, businesspeople and ordinary citizens to anticipate the crisis, understand its causes, and deal with its impacts.
How such paucity of information could exist in the so-called “Information Age” points to the contradictions in Southeast Asian societies. On one hand, the booming countries of the region had opened their economies to transnational capital flows, encouraged foreign investments and embarked on an ambitious path to growth based on integration into the global economy. On the other hand, in many of these countries, long reigning leaders have tried to keep their citizens on a tight leash, restricting freedom of expressionang flows of information that they think would threaten their regimes.
News in Distress looks at the problems facing the Southeast Asian media in this era of economic contagion, examining such issues as State control, the tyranny of anarchic media markets, and the challenges and opportunities brought about by democratizatyion, globalization and market deregulation on the region’s mass media.