Saturday, February 14, 2009

International and Inter-Cultural Communication and Media (Compulsory) JMC 506

Unit I
Culture of the world and Nations' communication system: Nature and scope of the study of International as well as intercultural communication and their relevancy as a discipline to the study of journalism and mass communication.

"...Through contact between different cultures via travel and trade, as well as war and colonialism. Such interactions have resulted in the transporting and implanting of ideas, religious beliefs, languages and economic and political systems, from one part of the world to another, by a variety of means that have evolved over millennia-from the oral, to being mediated by written language, sound or image.... International communication, then, is about sharing knowledge, ideas and beliefs among the various peoples of the world, and therefore it can be contributing factor in resolving global conflict and promoting mutual understanding among nations. However, more often channels of international communication have been used not for such lofty ideas but to promote the economic and political interests of the world's powerful nations, who control the means of global communication." (Thussu 3)

Communication is always caught up in cultural rules. Whenever an individual tries to communicate with another person, both of them share varying degrees of rules. The more rules they share, the easier the communication becomes. (Beatty & Takahashi, 2003, p. 25)

The communication act has been defined as having several parts (sender, message, channel, medium, context, and receiver). In human communication the matter is complicated by the fact that the entire act takes places in a cultural matrix. Senders and receivers, for example, are not just people, but specific people with various roles and statuses. These roles and statuses affect the ways in which messages can be and are interpreted.

'Intercultural communication is the exchange of cultural information between two groups of people with significantly different cultures…In other words, intercultural communication should focus on the exchange of information among two or more cultural systems embedded within a common environment that results in the reduction of uncertainty about the future behavior of the other system through an increase in understanding of the other social group.' ( Gudykunst & Mody 276)

Intercultural communication generally involves face-to-face communication between people from different national cultures. One major area of research is cross-cultural communication (i.e., the comparison of face-to-face communication across cultures; for example, comparing speech convergence in initial interactions in Japan and the United States).
Demands for intercultural communication skills are increasing as more and more businesses go global or international. People realize that there are barriers and limitations when entering a foreign territory. Without the help of intercultural communication one can unknowingly cause confusion and misunderstandings. For these intercultural businesses to breach the cultural barriers encountered when stepping into foreign grounds it is vital to fully understand the cultural differences that exist so as to prevent damaging business relations due to intercultural communication gaps.
There are many theories that set principles to help interpret the basis of intercultural communication. These theories help to iron out possible ripples of misunderstanding by giving a basic guideline on how to address situations. These guidelines help prevent clashes between different cultures groups caused by misperceptions.
The basic skills of intercultural communication are fundamentally general communication skills that can be used universally by all cultures and races. These skills are simply tweaked in a direction that takes the cultural limitation into consideration. An example of such communication skills in the intercultural environment is to listen without judging, repeat what you understand, confirm meanings, give suggestions and acknowledge a mutual understanding.
The main purpose of following such theories is to earn respect from others. Respect in all cultures in the world is a common language and by earning it through respecting other peoples culture and religion; the favor is returned.

International Communication includes the study of how communication between nation-states has been studied over the past 70 years (since 1930s).

International communication researchers studied how states used media to win on the world's battlefields. By the end of World War II, U.S. firms were expanding domestically and internationally.

Nature and scope of the study of International communication:

Unlike ICC, INC deals with the more macro-level information exchange between the nations." International communication (INC) is the study of heterophilous mass-mediated communication between two or more countries with differing backgrounds. The communicating countries may differ ideologically, culturally, in level of economic development, and in language. The primary unit of analysis in INC is the interaction of two or more societies/nations that are linked by mass media communication. So INC takes place at the societal level, as opposed to the interpersonal level, which distinguishes it from ICC. INC is a type of mass-mediated communication (i.e., few-to-many communication mediated by technologies such as radio, television and computer networks).

"Defined as 'communication that occurs across international borders' the analysis of international communication has been traditionally concerned with government-to-government information exchanges, in which a few powerful states dictated the communication agenda. Advances in communication and information technologies in the late twentieth century have greatly enhanced the scope of international communication-going beyond government-to-government and including business-to-business and people-to-people interactions at a global level and at speeds unimaginable even a decade ago.

Apart from nation-states, many non-state international actors are increasingly shaping international communication. The growing global importance of international non-governmental bodies-Public Interest Organization (PINGOs), such as Amnesty International, Greenpeace and the International Olympic Committee; Business Interest Organizations (BINGOs), such as GE, News Corporation and AT&T, and International Organizations (IGOs), such as the European Union, NATO, ASEAN-is indicative of this trend."(Thussu 1-2)

"International communication, then, is about sharing knowledge, ideas and beliefs among the various people of the world, and therefore it can be a contributing factor in resolving global conflict and promoting mutual understanding among nations. However, more often channels of international communication have been used not for such lofty ideals but to promote the economic and political interests of the world's powerful nations, who control the means of global communication." (Thussu 3-4)

International communication stimulated by WAR, TRADE, IMPERIALISM & INDUSTRIAL EXPANSION:

The rise of the global news agencies of the 20th century was made possible by technology (telegraph and radio-telephony) and stimulated by war, trade, imperialism and industrial expansion. (Mc Quail 219).

Example, how WAR stimulated international communication:

In 1896 William Randolph Hearst, a prominent newspaper publisher sent a photographer to Cuba to cover the possible outbreak of war against Spain. Historian Luther Mott reported that the cameraman replied with this telegram:

The publisher's reply was quick and to the point:

TECHNOLOGY (TV) paved the way for International communication:

Technology has certainly given a powerful push to the globalization of television. The arrival of television satellites in the late 1970s broke the principle of national sovereignty of broadcasting space and made it difficult and ultimately impossible to offer effective resistance to television transmission from outside the national territory.

The national character of early mass media was reinforced by the exclusiveness of language as well as by cultural and political factors.

Multinational Media OWNERSHIP & internationalization:

The foremost example of internationalization of media ownership, production and distribution is that of the popular music industry.

Examples of INTERNATIONL communication through MASS MEDIA, presented by Mc Quail (220):

• Direct transmission or distribution of media channels or complete publications from one country to audiences in other countries. This covers foreign sales of newspapers (sometimes in special editions) and books, certain satellite television channels, officially sponsored international radio broadcast services;
• Certain specifically international media, such as MTV Europe, CNN International, BBC World, TV Cinq, etc;
• Content items of many kinds (films, music, TV programmes, journalistic items, etc.) that are imported to make up part of domestic media output;
• Formats and genres of foreign origin that are adapted or remade to suit domestic audiences;
• International news items, whether about a foreign country or made in a foreign country, that appear in domestic media;
• Miscellaneous content such as sporting events, advertising and pictures that have a foreign reference or origin.

SCOPE of the study of International communication:

Studies of the mass system of a single nation and comparative studies of different mass media systems were precursors to the study of INC; however, the focus of INC, especially in the early decades of study, was often on the flows of information between and among nations. (Gudykunst & Mody 5)

CONSEQUENCE of International communication:

INC across borders may pose threats to national sovereignty and may represent media imperialism, the process through which one nation's culture is imposed on another country through mass media channels. (Gudykunst & Mody 5) Most of the issues surrounding global mass communication have a direct or indirect connection with the thesis of 'cultural imperialism', or the more limited notion of 'media imperialism'. Both concepts imply a deliberate attempt to dominate, invade or subvert the 'cultural space' of others and suggest a degree of coercion in the relationship. (Mc Quail 221)


Baran J. Stanley & Dennis K. Davis. Mass Communication Theory: Foundations, Ferment, and Future. Australia: Thomson Wadsworth, 2000.

Gudykunst, William B. & Bella Mody. Handbook of International and Cultural Communication. Thousand Oaks: Sage Publication 2002.

Thussu, Daya Kishan. International Communication: Continuity and Change. London: Arnold, 2000.

McQuail, Denis. McQuail's Mass Communication Theory. London: Sage Publication, 2000.