Conference attendees Patrick McConnell, Ann Hollifield, Carolina Acosta-Alzuru and Lee Becker.

Study Finds Journalism Trainers Experience Both Personal and Professional Growth

Journalists who participate in training and outreach programs internationally often learn a great deal about themselves as well as about the countries they visit and the people they meet. Learning about oneself is a more common outcome for those journalists early in their careers, while learning about the people and country is more common for the more senior journalists.

This conclusion comes from interviews with 33 American journalists who participated in the Knight International Press Fellowship Program from 1994 to 1998. The interviews were conducted as part of an evaluation of that program by Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia.

Dr. Becker presented the results of an analysis of the reactions of the journalistic trainers at the 23rd conference of the International Association for Media and Communication Research (IAMCR) in Barcelona, Spain, in July. Dr. Becker said the outcome of the research suggested that international training programs can offer an important learning experience for American journalists and serve as a way to help them gain knowledge about the operation of the media around the world as well as about their own professional and personal values.

Patrick McConnell, a doctoral student in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication and a research assistant in the Cox Center, co-authored the report with Dr. Becker and participated in the presentation. The Cox Center is a unit of the Grady College.

McConnell and Dr. Becker also presented a paper at the IAMCR conference on the role of the media in the democratization process. The researchers reviewed a variety of studies of the role the media played in the various stages of democratic development and concluded that there is amble evidence the media can play positive and negative roles.

McConnell and Dr. Becker hypothesized that the relationship between media and democratization can vary depending on the level of development in the country and the nature of media reform. The pair said they believe media training can play an important role in minimizing the negative impact of media excesses in the early stages of democratic development.

Florann Arts, Toshio Takeshita and Dr. Becker presented a third paper at the Barcelona conference summarizing research the team has done on audience interpretations of economic reporting in the media. The team concluded that audience members in The Netherlands, Japan and the U.S, are skeptical of media reporting of economic indicators, feeling such indicators do not represent the economic reality they confront.

Arts is a doctoral student at the Amsterdam School of Communication Research at the University of Amsterdam in The Netherlands. She spent the summer of 2000 as a visiting scholar in the Cox Center, where she and Dr. Becker collaborated on the research project. Takeshita is a professor of mass communication in the Department of Political Science at Meiji University in Tokyo.

The report on the impact of the international experience of journalism trainers was presented to the Professional Education Section of IAMCR. Aswin Punathambekar, formerly a research assistant in the Cox Center, also contributed.

The report on the media's role in democratization was presented to the Political Communication Section of the conference, while the report on audience responses to economic news was presented to the Audience and Reception Studies Section.

Two other Grady College faculty members also attended the Barcelona conference and presented reports on their research. Dr. Carolina Acosta-Alzuru presented results of a study of telenovelas in Venezuela, while Dr. C. Ann Hollifield presented findings of a study of the impact of telecommunications development in four rural communities in the United States.

The IAMCR conference, which was held July 21 to 26 at the Institute of Theater of the Barcelona Provincial Council, was attended by communication researchers from around the world. IAMCR has 2,300 members in 70 countries.

Click here to download a copy of the paper, "The Impact of Journalism Training on the Trainers," by Lee B. Becker, Patrick J. McConnell and Aswin Punathambekar (PDF).

Click here to download a copy of the paper, "The Role of the Media in Democratization," by Patrick J. McConnell and Lee B. Becker (PDF).

To obtain a copy of the paper, "Economic News and Perceptions of the Economy," by Florann A. Arts, Toshio Takeshita and Lee B. Becker, contact the first author at

To obtain a copy of the paper, "Tackling the Issues: Meaning-Making in a Telenovela," by Carolina Acosta-Alzuru, contact the author at

To obtain a copy of the paper, "Across the Digital Divide: A Study of Adoption of Telecommunications Technology in Four Rural Communities," by C. Ann Hollifield, contact the author at

Click here to download a copy of the paper, "Independent Journalism Training Initiatives: Their Impact on Journalists and Journalism Education," by Lee B. Becker and Wilson Lowrey, presented at the IAMCR meeting in Singapore in 2000 (PDF). The paper also reports on the evaluation of the Knight International Press Fellowship Program.