Dr. Becker with former student Fang Yang at the Spokane conference.

Scholars Meet in Spokane, Washington To Discuss Media Globalization Issues

Fifty-five media scholars from around the world gathered in Spokane, Washington, for two days in July to discuss issues surrounding the globalization of the mass media.

Included in the dialog was a consideration of the implications of the changes taking place in the media environment for the way the media cover international issues, for what audience members learn about politics and international affairs, and for the media themselves.

Points of view were varied, but most of those present expressed concern that the standardization associated with globalization may have negative effects on media behavior and ultimately on democracy itself.

The conference was organized by the Center for Global Media Studies at the Edward R. Murrow School of Communication at Washington State University.

Among those attending was Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia. Dr. Becker is a member of the executive board of the four-year-old Center for Global Media Studies.

Most of the scholars present came from the United States, but other countries represented included Canada, China, India, Nepal, Romania, and Spain.

Despite the efforts of the large telecommunications companies to extend their reach around the world, local public service television remains strong in many countries of the world, both James D. White from the University of Hawaii at Manoa and David Cox of Hawfinch Television in the United Kingdom told the group.

"Public service broadcasting isn't dead and its role isn't dead," Cox said. But both Cox and White expressed concern that many public service broadcasters have weakened their commitment to public affairs programming in deference to entertainment program that appeals to the largest audiences.

"The global media enterprise is better at monopolizing than leading," Dr. Everette Dennis from Fordham University's Graduate School of Business Administration told the group. "These industries don't do research and development. They don't do forecasting."

Dr. Dennis, who was honored at the conference for "Outstanding Contributions to the Study of Global Mass Communication," called on media scholars to fill some of the void by mapping the activities of media organizations, building data bases from that work, and developing collaborative research programs on the issues surrounding globalization.

Dr. Dennis is Felix E. Larkin Distinguished Professor of Communications and Media Management and Director of the Center for Communications at Fordham. He also is executive director of the International Longevity Center, an affiliate of the Mount Sinai School of Medicine.

Cox Center Director Becker, speaking in the closing conference session, noted the appeal of the U.S. model of journalism education around the world and said coalescence around a single approach to journalism training could be viewed as a type of globalization.

Dr. Becker hypothesized that the U.S. approach to journalism education is popular because it provides a mobile labor force suited to a commercial media system. He also indicated that media assistance programs supported by U.S. government and American foundations have increased awareness of U.S. training models abroad.

The Spokane conference was the first sponsored by the Center for Global Media Studies. It was held July 12 and 13 at the Ridpath Hotel in downtown Spokane.