Mass Communication Questions
1a. What is international communication? Use three international media houses to explain what it is.
International communication is the exchange of ideas, knowledge and all sorts of information across international borders. International communication consists of the phenomenon of exchanging knowledge, ideas, and information and interaction of individual across the borders, between two or more countries. It is often used synonymously with global communication but in some instances international communication may not be as broad as global communication. International communication could be between government of different countries, businesses in different countries or people in different countries. The increasing effects and influences of globalization have made international communication more essential in today’s world.
b. Three international media houses that could be used to explain this are CNN, BBC, and Reuters. These are channels of international communication. They disseminate information across the world and the content of such information influence international businesses, relationships, governments and other activities. While answering the second part of this question you can use any international media house as example. Here we used two television/radio houses and one international news agency.
c. Masmoudi argued that there existed a flagrant quantitative imbalance between North and South created by the volume of news and information emanating from the developed world and intended for the developing countries and the volume of the flow in the opposite direction; How genuine in your own thinking is this argument? Use 3 relevant examples to buttress your answers.
First of all, the North and South here refer to the developed and developing nations. Once you understand this, it will be very easy for you to answer this question.
Masmoudi was simply saying that most of the reports carried by the international media are from and about the developed world, and that this high volume of stories about the western media are also meant for audience in the developing world. So if you’re watching CNN in Nigeria for instance, you end up seeing stories about developed nations more than what happens in Africa and other developing nations. That was what Masmoudi referred to as “flagrant quantitative imbalance.” The volume of flow in the opposite direction (from the developing countries to the Western world or from the South to the North) is very low. You have more stories about the North (Western or developed nations) in international media than stories about developing nations.
The argument is very genuine. Using three examples, CNN carries more stories about the developed world than about Africa or other developing nations. You can’t compare the volumes of reports about the North (Western world) in the international media to the volume of reports about the South (developing nations). Again, international news Agencies such as Reuters, AFP, and AP, all carry more stories about the North than that of the South. A third example you could give is the fact that newsbreaks in the Western world get more attention in the international media than newsbreaks in the South (developing nations), irrespective of the news value. There could be an outbreak of violence in an African nation which should get attention in the foreign media but the BBC might be more interested in reporting about the Royal Family is in disarray after Prince Harry and his wife, Meghan Markle decided to abandon their royal duties.
2a. What is the current state of world communication?
The current state of world communication is still skewed. This means that there is still imbalance in world communication between the North and the South (Western world and developing nations). Much of the information still flows from the developed nations (also called the center or the North) to the developing nations (also called the periphery of the South). This is basically due to advanced communication technologies which the Western world still control, making them dominate the information dissemination process through the world media such as CNN, BBC, Fox News, and such other cable news media, including newspapers and magazines, and other internet media. Quality of their programmes is still far better than the quality of programmes in the developing nations’ media. So the Western world still have much of the audience attention across the world.
b. Has the problems surrounding a free and balanced flow of information and how the needs of the developing countries link with the flow been solved? Or was it just a perception by the South?
No, the problem has not been solved. The imbalance still exists due to lack of technology, lack of quality problems and so on. The free and balanced flow of information would have projected the problems of the developing nations to the world but much of what we see on CNN, BBC, and other big media about Africa and other developing nations is negative news. It was not a perception of the West. The problems of imbalance still exist today.
c. How can the media become vehicles for educating public opinion about world problems?
First of all what is public opinion? Public opinion refers to the views and thinking of the majority of the people in the society on an issue. It consists of the collective opinion of the people of a society or state on an issue or problem. Public opinion could be very important in achieving goals in the society.
The media can be vehicles for shaping public opinion about world problems by disseminating accurate information about the problems and interpreting the problems for the audiences to understand how the problems affect them and implications of such problems to every facet of the society. Information is very crucial in public opinion formation. So what the media need to do is to constantly give accurate and detailed information upon which the public can base their opinions on specific issues. You should use examples to answer the question. For instance, the media can give accurate information about the coronavirus, how it spreads, preventive measures, symptoms and implications of the disease to the economy, politics, and other aspects of the society. With such information people can form a good opinion of the nature of coronavirus and what they can do to prevent contracting the disease.
3. Following the submission of the report of the McBride Commission, at the 21st general conference session of UNESCO held in Belgrade in 1980, a resolution for the attainment of NWICO was passed, thereby formerly approving the demand. The resolution proposed had eleven (11) points in it. What are they? Discuss each one of the 11 resolutions proposed.
Here are the eleven (11) points in the resolution proposed for the attainment of NWICO (cited in Nordenstreng, 2010):
(i) elimination of the imbalances and inequalities which characterize the present situation;
Here the resolution was referring to the imbalance in flow of information from the North to the South through major international media; and the inequalities in the content of news about the western world and about developing nations.
(ii) elimination of the negative effects of certain monopolies, public or private, and excessive concentrations;
This refers to addressing the fact that so much bad news about African nations affects perception of these nations by the entire world. When for instance CNN reports primarily negative news about African nations, this scares investors away from such nations. This resolution is saying there should balanced coverage of developing nations to eliminate negative effects of bad news.
(iii) removal of the internal and external obstacles to a free flow and wider and better balanced dissemination of information and ideas;
Internal and external obstacles refer to tariffs, tax regimes, censorship and other laws and regulations that could prevent developing nations from having access to information technology that would facilitate balanced information flow. According to Damon (1986), developing nations contend that the developed nations retain an impermissive control of the information flow. As an example, they cite to the control exercised by the four major Western news agencies, which are responsible for approximately nine tenths of the news transmitted in the world. The developing nations’ approach, according to Damon (1986) set forth in the NWICO guidelines, is to exercise control of this information flow to achieve the desired balance of information from developed and developing nations. So the developing nations are saying that internal and external obstacles that prevent free flow and wider and better balanced information should be removed.
iv) plurality of sources and channels of information;
This says that media houses in the Western world should have several sources, including in the developing nations to ensure accuracy of facts and balanced coverage.
(v) freedom of the press and information;
This calls for the right for media houses to circulate opinions, information and ideas of all kinds without censorship, provided the ethics of the profession are observed.
(vi) the freedom of journalists and all professionals in the communication media, a freedom inseparable from responsibility;
This calls for the right of journalists to operate freely without fear of arrest by authorities, brutality or any other form of attack, while carrying out their responsibilities as journalists.
(vii) the capacity of developing countries to achieve improvement of their own situations,
notably by providing their own equipment, by training their personnel, by improving their infrastructures and by making their information and communications media suitable to their needs and aspirations;
(viii) the sincere will of developed countries to help them attain these objectives;
This says developed countries should also make efforts on their own to achieve the objectives stated here. They should be sincere in training personnel, acquiring technology and engaging in efforts to catch up with eh global trends in information flow; not just allowing corruption to prevent such achievements and sitting back to complain always.
(ix) respect for each people’s cultural identity and the right of each nation to inform the world public about its interests, its aspirations and its social and cultural values;
This suggests that contents of programmes should respect and recognize diverse cultures in the world and not just a situation where the Western world force their cultures down the throat of the rest of the world due to imbalance in information flow.
(x) respect for the right of all peoples to participate in international exchanges of information on the basis of equality, justice and mutual benefit;
The calls for inclusiveness in programme contents development to recognize the global village factor in information dissemination. This says information should not always come from the North to the South (vertical imbalance due to concentrated flow from top to bottom). Information should also flow from bottom to top (developing to developed nations).
(xi) respect for the right of the public, of ethnic and social groups and of individuals to have access to information sources and to participate actively in the communication process;
This also refers to plurality of sources, whereby the Western media engage sources from the developed world and the media in the developing nations also have access to sources in the Western developed societies, across ethnic and social groupings. No one ethnic or social grouping should dominate media content.