COM 224T: mass media & societY
Travel Course to Cuba
Mass media is all around us; it’s the music we listen to, the games we play, and videos we watch. What individuals don’t often realize is how great of an influence the media plays on society. On a global scale, various media markets alter opinions of different cultures as well as change the beliefs towards different topics whether the viewer is aware of it or not. Governments of different countries employ various media tactics to alter the perception of their citizens as well as foreigners. The United States is self-proclaimed for the constituted freedom of speech and of the press that allows its citizens the independence to express themselves without restraints. Comparatively, Cuba is a country that has functioned under communism for numerous years and have numerous governmental restrictions set in place to limit said freedoms that Americans have. However, both countries demonstrate different regulations and media tactics to persuade the citizens of each country that aren’t often advertised. Through the use of public relations the governments are able to alter the perceptions of the governments as a whole through propaganda campaigns and publicity events to win the support of its citizens. The journalistic tactics in the two countries demonstrate a varied freedom of speech depending on who is financing the media outlets. Finally, the legality of various freedoms of expressions vary between the two countries where the United States experiences a freedom of expression with numerous laws in place to protect the intellectual property where as in Cuba there are multiple restraints on the society on access to the internet and freedom of expression with little to no laws protecting creative property.
Since my recent visit to Cuba, There have been many differences between the two countries, (America and Cuba), that I have taken note of. Many of these simple differences that I have noticed I never thought would actually come up in my lifetime. The first of these differences is the difference and lack of advertising concepts between the two countries. The second of the differences that I noticed were the major differences between the use of public relations and how different they are between the two nations. Lastly, the final difference between the two nations is the difference between the freedom of speech and expression in the United States and the lack of these basic rights in Cuba. All of these differences between the two nations are only a mere insight of how similar and also how different the two nations, which are less than 200 miles from each other, truly are.
I never thought I would have the opportunity to travel to Cuba, and so grateful that I did. I have travelled to a lot of countries previously, but my trip to Cuba was definitely different. The trip to Cuba really opened my eyes to a lot of things. Cuba is a beautiful country, rich in culture. I loved Cuba for its uniqueness, creativity and welcoming spirit. The people are very welcoming, although, it maybe difficult to get around if you do not speak Spanish. Being in Cuba, is like time travelling back to the 1950s and it was great to experience what the 1950s would have been like. a lot of people do not know much about Cuba, due to the lack of technology and communications, but in my opinion the lack of communication is that is what makes Cuba, Cuba. Therefore, this paper will examine what it was like being in Cuba and comparing it to the rest of the world.
It is hard to image that Cuba is only 90 miles off the coast of Key West FLA when it felt like a world away. Going to Cuba was as though we stepped back in time or into a parallel universe with 50s cars driving around, lack of internet, and a government controlled state. Everything was so different, yet, people like Riko, our tour guide, made our transition into a foreign society a much more enjoyable, relatable, and understandable experience.
“First, there was fast pizza delivery. Then there was video on demand. Soon, there will be the ability to download songs from your favorite recording artists with a few clicks of a mouse.” -John Frederick Moore.
This quote stuck with me as I was scanning internet history and technological advances throughout the world. Cuba is really advanced in some places of their social culture but then in the realm of technology they are extremely behind the rest of the world, Yet, so we think. As an American, I laugh about the thought of downloading songs in my own home, and I have food delivered all the time but it is strange for me to think about a society that does not have this possibility at all. In America we live in a society that feasts on technological advances. Most the time we throw old technology away and disregard it, even if it is only a few years old. In Cuba this is the quite the opposite, and relatively surprising to see them recycle what we toss out.
Our trip to Cuba began on March 4, 2017. Looking out of the window as our plane touched down, the first thing I noticed were all of the old cars on the street below. When first arriving to Cuba, it almost felt very similar to Tampa but upon closer inspection it was vastly different. The air and the sun felt different. At the airport there were people everywhere speaking Spanish and the atmosphere felt nice. This was when we first met our tour guide Reiko, who worked with the local CIEE program. One of the first things you may notice about Cuba is that American currency is not used in any shape or form. That was one of the factors that helps you to remember that you’re in a completely different place than before. We left the airport and boarded a tour bus that would be one of our modes of transportation (besides walking of course). Reiko gave us a brief introduction and so did we and I think that helped to ease everyone's minds. I remember in the middle of all of this we stopped and he gave us a huge bottle of water. Here in America, safe drinkable water is available almost everywhere and having water becomes so important during the duration of this trip. That day we also met our host family and had a brief introduction session. We also took a tour of historic part of Cuba called old Havana. It was very unique in the sense that it had a feeling of being untouched by the outside world. All of the old cars helped the amplify that feeling I’m sure. We exchanged currency at the nearby hotel in which we were taxed quite a bit for. About 13 percent of our money was taken in taxes. They explained that wifi is not accessible everywhere and this began the journey to living without the internet. The day ended with a welcome dinner that had amazing food and it was a great start.
To describe my time in Cuba is like talking about El Salvador or any other Latin American Countries, but with its own uniqueness. Growing up in the United States, I was taught that Cuba, like any other communist country, was bad and everyone there was living miserably. Nevertheless, I was meet with an awakening surprise when I arrived to Cuba. To begin my critical analysis, I will descripe the media outlets that we visited in Cuba and in Tampa; This will allow for an in-depth analysis on how democracy (or lack of) effects mass media.
Most of the media companies in Cuba are state run. Many people believe that this means that they only publish information that is pro-Castro. This is not necessarily true. Most of them are able to publish whatever they would like. The only restriction is that they may not publish anything that may be considered anti-revolutionary. Much like in the United States, the radio station we visited, Radio Habana Cuba, was a station that varied in all sorts of media. It broadcasts information on both national and international news, ranging from sports, entertainment, and many more. It also attempts to broadcast to various demographics as they have a show in seven different languages, that are all constantly running. Since it is state run, they receive their primary source of income from the government itself. This is the same as Trabajadors, the newspaper company that we visited. Here they said that they keep to writing for the workers, the “trabajadores”. The sole purpose of all the articles is to inform the workers on information that may relate to them or may be beneficial to them. It was also said that the newspaper company could receive entries from readers to do a further investigation on certain things that may have a potential benefit to them.