Cox Center Hosts Conference On Media And Public Sphere

Approximately 40 scholars attended the international conference on Media and the Public Sphere held Sept. 5 to 6 in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

The attendees were from China, Croatia, Egypt, France, the Philippines, Romania and the United States. Some of them are enrolled at present in U.S. doctoral journalism and mass communication programs.

Dr. Peter Gross, an expert on the media in East and Central Europe, gave one of the keynote addresses at the conference, and Dr. David Weaver, who has just completed a major study of journalists around the world, gave the second.

Dr. Gross is the director of the School of Journalism and Electronic Media at the University of Tennessee, located in Knoxville. Dr. Weaver is distinguished professor emeritus in the School of Journalism at Indiana University, in Bloomington.

Gross told the researchers that “Censorship and self-censorship have negatively impacted media in East and Central Europe before and after the fall of communism.”

“In theory and on paper, after more than 20 years after the end of the totalitarian regime, the countries in that part of the world have democratic institutions, but the reality is different,” Gross said.

Dr. Weaver said that studies of journalists in 31 countries indicate that the typical journalist is a fairly young, college-educated man who studied something other than journalism and “who came from dominant cultural groups in his country.”

Dr. Peiqin Chen, professor and vice dean of the International School of Journalism at Shanghai International Studies University, was among the scholars who presented papers. Dr. Chen, who also is director of Center for Global Public Opinion in China, gave an overview of Chinese social media and their influence in the country today.

The James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research, a unit of the Grady College, partnered with the Center for Research in Communication at the National University of Political Studies and Public Administration, Bucharest, Romania, and Institut de la Communication, University Lyon 2, France, in organizing the conference.

The previous conferences in this series were organized in Bucharest in 2011 and in Lyon in 2012.

Dr. Charles Davis, dean of the Grady College, Dr. Nicoleta Corbu, dean of the College of Communication and Public Relations in Romania, and Dr. Lee B. Becker, director of the Cox International Center, opened the conference by welcoming participants to the two-day event and to the University of Georgia.

Dr. Becker, Dr. Teresa K. Naab of the School of Music, Theater and Media in Hannover, Germany, Cynthia English, Gallup, U.S.A., and Dr. Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Cox International Center, gave one of the papers, focusing on the role of the media in combating corruption.

“At least some caution is in order when media leaders argue that increased media independence will result in significant decreases in corruption,” said Dr. Becker while presenting the findings of the paper. “If corruption is measured based on citizen assessments, the relationship appears to be quite limited.”

Other papers were presented on the visual framing of athletes online, agenda-setting in the 2012 U.S. Republican primaries, the effects of conflict news frames on political trust, and social cohesion after the Egyptian uprising.

The full title of the conference was Media and the Public Sphere: Examining the Challenges in the New Communication Landscape.

To view conference photos, please click here.