Entrance of the BBC in London.

Cox Center Director Outlines Evaluation Research
In Meeting at BBC World Service Trust Group

Despite the expectation on the part of the media assistance community and many academics, the empirical evidence that media provide the information societies need to become democratic has not yet been assembled, Dr. Lee B. Becker said in a presentation before the BBC World Service Trust in April.

Researchers should conduct evaluation research to test whether the media contribute to democratization, Dr. Becker, director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research at the University of Georgia, told the April 11 gathering at the BBC offices in London.

Dr. Becker was invited to give the presentation to the approximately 30 assembled researchers and media trainers by the Research and Learning Group of the World Service Trust, which is the charitable arm of the British broadcast organization. The Trust also conducts training programs, and the Research and Learning Group is involved in evaluation of those initiatives.

Dr. Becker presented a theoretical model describing the possible types of influence media training programs can have on working journalists, the organizations for which they work, the media system and society. He also summarized research conducted by the Cox Center and other organizations on media’s contributions to democratic development.

The University of Georgia researcher also told the group new measures of media systems should be developed that focus particularly on whether the media are delivering the information citizens need to function in a democracy.

Dr. Becker also outlined strategies for measuring the impact of media assistant programs and suggested the use of research designs that allow for informative comparisons and for measures that pick up evidence of media effects.

The Cox Center, a unit of the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia, has conducted research on training programs for journalists both within the United States and in other countries.

During the visit to London, Dr. Becker also visited representatives of the Network Media Program at the Open Society Institute and the Institute for War and Peace Reporting. Both groups conduct training programs for journalists, and Dr. Becker discussed the work of the Cox Center with them.

Following the meeting in London, Dr. Becker traveled to Friedrichshafen, Germany, where he met with faculty and administrators of Zeppelin University to discuss future student and faculty exchanges.

Dr. Klaus Schoenbach, vice president for International Relations at Zeppelin, visited the Grady College in February to initiate discussion of these exchanges. That trip was organized by the Cox Center.

During the two-day trip, Drs. Schoenbach and Becker and others at Zeppelin discussed the parameters of any future exchanges and the steps that need to be taken to initiate them. The two universities were in the process of signing a memorandum of understanding at the time of the meeting.