Dr. Becker after dinner organized by students at King Saud University.

Cox Center Director Lectures at King Saud University, Meets with Journalists During Week in Saudi Arabia

Lectures on journalism education in the United States, including the accrediting process, visits to media organizations, and discussions of U.S. public opinion were all part of Dr. Lee B. Becker’s week-long visit to Saudi Arabia.

Dr. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia, was the guest of the Mass Communication Department of King Saud University in Riyadh, the Saudi capital.

About 30 faculty members of the department and other units of King Saud University heard Dr. Becker explain how accreditation of higher education works in the United States and give details of the operation of the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communications (ACEJMC).

The Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia is one of 109 journalism and mass communication programs in the United States accredited by ACEJMC. The Cox Center is a unit of the Grady College.

In a separate lecture attended by about 30 undergraduate students and faculty members, Dr. Becker summarized some of the key findings of the Annual Surveys of Journalism & Mass Communication, which are housed in the Cox Center and directed by Dr. Becker.

Dr. Becker told the students that the overwhelming majority of positions filed in the daily newspaper and television newsrooms in the United States are taken by graduates of journalism and mass communications programs.

These two lectures took place on March 24 and March 25 at King Saud University. The following day Dr. Becker met informally with faculty members in the Mass Communication Department to discuss possible future collaboration between the Grady College and the mass communication program at King Saud University. Among the activities discussed were student and faculty exchanges, teleconferencing for lectures, and joint research projects.

On March 31, Dr. Becker visited the College of Mass Communications at Al-Imam Muhammad Ibn Saud Islamic University, were he gave a brief overview of journalism education in the United States and answered questions from the 50 students and 10 faculty members in attendance.

Twenty-six Saudi and five Egyptian journalists heard Dr. Becker summarize research he presented at a conference in Egypt in January on U.S. public opinion regarding the ongoing war in Iraq. Dr. Becker told the group that the majority of the U.S. population is opposed to the war at the time of the talk and that there is little evidence that the campaign of the U.S. administration to gain support for the war in the months before the 2003 invasion had been successful.

During the course of his visit, Dr. Becker visited Al-Riyadh and Al-Jazirah, daily newspapers that serve the country from Riyadh, and the Saudi Research & Marketing Group, the publishers of several daily newspapers, including the English-language Arab News, and consumer and specialized magazines. He also visited the Arabian Printing and Publishing House, who contract prints newspapers, magazines and books.

In addition, Dr. Becker visited Saudi Arabia TV, where he toured the studios, met with journalists and managers, and was interviewed for a special half-hour program on Channel 2, which broadcasts in English.

Dr. Becker also was interviewed by journalists for Al-Jazirah newspaper about a variety of issues, including journalism education around the world, U.S. media coverage of international affairs, and U.S. public opinion about Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations.

“U.S. media coverage of most countries around the world is superficial,” Dr. Becker told Mohammed A. Al-Faisal from Al-Jazirah. Dr. Becker said the primary reason the U.S. media did not cover international affairs more completely was financial, since it costs a lot of money to station journalists abroad.

The students at King Saud University organized a dinner for Dr. Becker in one of their Homes following the lectures at the university.
“It was one of the highlights of my visit,” Dr. Becker said. “The students I met were so warm and so proud of their country and its traditions. It was true pleasure to get a chance to spend time with them.”

Dr. Ibrahim Al Beayeyz, chairman of the Mass Communication Department at King Saud University, invited Dr. Becker to Riyadh and organized the details of his visit.

“I am very indebted to Dr. Al Beayeyz for this opportunity to learn about Saudi Arabia and for his wonderful hospitality,” Dr. Becker said at the end of the visit. “I look forward to future collaboration with Dr. Al Beayeyz and his colleagues at King Saud.”