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Communication Theories in a Multicultural World

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Edited By Clifford G. Christians and Kaarle Nordenstreng

This volume is an up-to-date account of communication theories from around the world.
Authored by a group of eminent scholars, each chapter is a history and state-of-the-art description of the major issues in international communication theory.
While the book draws on an understanding of communication theory as a product of its socio-political and cultural context, and the challenges posed by that context, it also highlights each author’s lifetime effort to critique the existing trends in communication theory and bring out the very best in each multicultural context.
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18 Media Ethics in Transnational, Gender Inclusive, and Multicultural Terms

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Responsible media use and appropriate journalistic conduct have been debated in Western societies since the oldest known newspaper was published in Germany in 1609. But the press’s harm to society was not explicitly linked to ethical principles until the end of the nineteenth century. In her examination of journalistic standards in the United States, Hazel Dicken Garcia (1989) sees the 1890s as the transition from critiquing everyday procedures to reflection about the press based on ethical precepts. Scribner’s magazine in April 1896 applauded a French critic for finally getting beyond “short and most immediate views” and assessing journalism “philosophically” (Gorren, 1896, p. 507). As the press develops into an industrial structure during this period, and the first forays into journalism education appear, an intellectual concern about the press’s obligation takes root in a form basically unchanged until now.

Major new communication technologies between the telegraph in 1837 and wireless radio in 1899 gave birth to the modern international communication system as the twentieth century opened. The development of the submarine cable marked the zenith of the monopolistic power of the great electronic companies. Monopoly becomes a crucial issue for international communication henceforth, with regulation entangled by domestic and imperial interests.

As the media became a complex and diversified social institution, journalists identified themselves as an expert class pursuing specialized tasks. The North American press began understanding itself during the early twentieth century not ← 293 | 294 → as a political forum or socializing force, but as...

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