San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Easy To Overstate Problems Of Measurement Of Media Freedom, Researcher Says

Researchers should be careful not to overstate the problems of measuring media freedom at the level of the nation state, University of Georgia’s Dr. Lee B. Becker told a group of scholars at the conference of the International Communication Association in late May.

“The objects can be anything, from ears of corn, to tweets, to individuals, to groups, to nation states,” Dr. Becker said. Measurement is problematic regardless of what is being studied, he said.

“In the end, the criteria we have for evaluating measures are the extent to which they produce consistent classifications, i.e., classifications that are absent random error, and the extent to which the classifications reflect the concept, i.e., are absent systematic error,” Dr. Becker told the group. “The starting point has to be a good conceptual definition. And the standards of evaluation are reliability and validity.”

Dr. Becker’s presentation was part of a panel on media and Internet freedom at the conference, held May 21 to 25 at the San Juan Caribe Hilton Hotel in Puerto Rico.

Dr. Becker is director of the James M. Cox Jr. Center for International Mass Communication Training and Research in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Georgia.

With Dr. Tudor Vlad, associate director of the Cox International Center, Dr. Becker has been evaluating measures of media freedom in a program of research going back more than 10 years.

The paper that Dr. Becker presented in San Juan was a summary of that research program.

The panel discussion was organized by Lea C. Hellmueller of Texas Tech University in the United States and included presentations by scholars from Egypt, Germany and South Africa.

Yusef Kalyango Jr. of Ohio University discussed his research on variations of the concept of media freedom across Africa.

The panel was sponsored by the Global Communication and Social Change Division of the International Communication Association.

For a copy of the paper, click here.