First week reflection

Hi all!

These are my questions for the beginning of the course, based on the readings.

1. How have political, economical, and cultural approaches of the media changed in the post Cold War era, after 9/11 and the New World Information Order?

2. If the radio used to be the means for mobilization of public opinion, is TV the actual vehicle for this purpose? Or is the internet and social media displacing traditional media? This questions is posed in the context of the “media wars”, so popular in different TV outlets. Are the same kinds of fights waged in the internet and the blogosphere? Are they less powerful because of the people’s liberty to choose what information to use in the netsphere, as opposed to a limited offer of programming on traditional media?

3. On the grounds of “democratizing information” and eliminating obstacles to the free flow of information, was independence in the media inadvertently lost? I bring this up because it is mentioned that the defense for a free platform of information was usually promulgated by the West, in its battle against those states favoring regulation of the media. Isn’t it ironic how these two opposing views were impersonated and represented by capitalism and socialism/communism, respectively?





Reflections: Historical Context

by Brinsly

The article noted  how messages were transmitted successfully by a line of shouting men strategically located at heights. It would have been good to know how often the messages arrived intact and not distorted by echoes and human understanding etc.

The SITE program pioneered by the Indian government was a good initiative aimed at making change happen in rural communities through the use of television. This program ran for just a year before coming to an end. Perhaps the program would have been more successful if it had been extended for a longer time period. This would have given more time for people to get used to the new ideas and apply them, especially parts of the target segment that were not allowed access to this information.

The article elucidated the dynamic nature of communication technologies. As the author traced the process, it was apparent how controls shifted from the British to the Americans, from cables to telephones.

The article also highlighted the activities of BBC such as its ability to present a stand in its news delivery. The BBC maintains this edge in news production as present day audiences continue to refer to this news source.

Reflection on The Historical Context Of International Communication

  1. I was intrigued by the United States’ hostile reaction to NWICO and wasn’t familiar with this episode in the Reagan era. Though the concern over a balanced flow of information and media freedom was understandable, it was startling to see how far the US pushed its aggressive, excessively patriotic agenda and how this antagonistic stance culminated in the US’s withdrawal from UNESCO.
  1. I have a longstanding interest in US-Cuba relations and it was interesting to read about the US’s zealous propaganda campaigns against Cuba, who has persistently remained out of reach in the US’s sphere of influence in Latin America. I am curious to know how effective the creation of Radio Marti and TV Marti was in influencing other Latin American countries and if they were decidedly persuaded to align (or continue to align) with the US.
  1. It was striking to see how much was spent on the Satellite Instructional Television Experiment (SITE) but yet the impact on the poor citizens was negligible. What are the key components of a successful behavior change campaign and what can be done to further engage the economically disadvantaged citizens who are being targeted?

Week #1 Reflection: The Historical Context of International Communication

Hello Colleagues, one great advantage – the only one, in fact – to sending my responses late is that I have the benefit of each of your responses and analysis.  Many fascinating points!  The themes and issues that gripped me are as follows:

The most prevalent theme of Thussu’s first chapter, The Historical Context of International Communication, presented itself to me as the State, Nation-State, and Empire’s grasp for dominance and power via communication technologies.  ‘Control,’ ‘dominate,’ ‘colonize,’ ‘take power over’ – these words were used every time a State-actor made use of new communication technologies.  Concerning the study of international communication from the perspective of U.S. Foreign Policy, it would be interesting to search for declassified statements on this theme; exploring the existence of records which may indicate how self-aware an acting U.S. administration was, internally, to what it communicated, and how the administration expected that to further U.S. political or ideological dominance.  Can we discover what internal or even private/secret goals an administration holds?  And how can we reliably confer this if it is not overtly stated?  What about other nations, especially nation-states which employ non-democratic regimes, where such governments are not traditionally held accountable for actions and there is little to no expectation from the public to receive reliable, current information from their government about what actions their government takes?

In the United States, classified material is usually declassified 30 years post-writing.  These newly-made-public documents are assembled into volumes dealing with eras and subjects by the Department of State Office of the Historian.  (  Incidentally, as much of the reading addressed the Cold War, almost two weeks ago The Office of the Historian published a new volume chronicling the Carter, Nixon-Ford, and Regan era Strategic Arms Limitation Talks (SALT I, 1969, and SALT II 1979 – not ratified due to Soviet invasion of Afghanistan) which took place between the U.S. and USSR regarding nuclear armament.

Related to the theme of State dominance, the chapter gave me the implicit impression that the Associated Press (AP) in the United States was (and perhaps is) used by the U.S. Government to disseminate information, and held a de facto monopoly on news, especially in acting as a (perhaps the) news source for smaller regional publications.  According to Wikipedia, the AP was always a news co-operative.  So rather than one localized juggernaut with local writers, many contributing writers across the continental U.S. composed its make-up.  While the AP maintains a relative monopoly in news media today (see quote below), I found no published indication that the AP had ever been a propagandist tool of the United States Government.

“As of 2005[update], the news collected by the AP is published and republished by more than 1,700 newspapers, in addition to more than 5,001 television and radio broadcasters. The photograph library of the AP consists of over 10 million images. The Associated Press operates 243 news bureaus and it serves at least 120 countries, with an international staff located worldwide.”


On the other side of the pond, the account of Reuters selling news space to the British Empire during World War I to disseminate speeches made by Empire officials led me to question what U.S. laws, if any, exist regulating ties between press reporting and the government.  How would these associations be monitored and quantified, and how could their effects be qualified?  In Reuters’ case during WWI, the sale of information dissemination services to the controlling body bought the British Empire support for their military campaign from otherwise neutral colonies and members of the Commonwealth.  I wondered if CNN, MSNBC and others do more or less the same thing when they live-stream speeches by the U.S. president and cabinet members – though of course, our government does not pay them directly, so far as the public is aware.

According to, the legal meaning of “freedom of speech, or of the press” as excerpted from the First Amendment to the Constitution draws no perceivable difference between civilians and the press, from a legal standpoint.  (See First National Bank of Boston vs. Bellotti, 1978.  That is to say – relations between ‘the press’ or any ‘member of the press’ and a member of government cannot be regulated any more than the relationship between a non-press civilian and member of government.   In 1978 the Supreme Court ruled that the rights of the freedom of press are inseparable from the rights of the freedom of speech, and that no special rights can be assigned to the press, because the court cannot define precisely who ‘the press’ is and are.

“Because the First Amendment was meant to guarantee freedom to express and communicate ideas, I can see no difference between the right of those who seek to disseminate ideas by way of a newspaper and those who give lectures or speeches and seek to enlarge the audience by publication and wide dissemination.” Chief Justice Warren E. Burger

Though this line of investigation did not really address the spirit of State-control and propaganda in my original question, I found this precedent set over 30 years ago fascinating in its implication – that no media source has any more right to disseminate information “in good faith” than any sole civilian.  Like others this week who reflected on the advent of social media and iReporter in mainstream news, I note that this new form of information gathering/’broadcast’ signifies what could be a cultural shift; or a natural evolution pushed by technology, and the democratic approach to hearing all voices.

If the last seminal moment in communication technology was the advent of the printing press, the advent of the internet, it seems, has become the next.

Tamikka M Forbes

Week 1 Reflection: The Historical Context of International Communication

After reading Daya Thussu’s “The Historical context of International Communication”, I found several factors regarding International communication to be very interesting and insightful.

  1. One of the first concepts Thussu provided suggest that communication has been always associated with power and bureaucracy since it first came out. As Thussu mentioned earlier, “from the Persian, Greek and Roman empires to the British, efficient networks of communication were essential for the imposition of imperial authority, as well as for the international trade and commerce on which they were based.”(Thussu, p.3) This concept has also been manifested by the appearance of the earliest “official media” – ti pao from T’ang dynasty as well as Ch’ing pao from Ching period in ancient China. In addition, it was interesting to see that the earliest news agencies were also connected with governmental and international affairs, as “..Havas, Wolff and Reuters, all of which were subsidized by their respective governments, controlled information markets in Europe and were looking beyond the continent to expand their operations.” (Thussu, p.9)
  2. After get to know about the rise of the three earliest news agencies, specifically knowing in 1870, the contract set ‘reserved territories’ for the three agencies, “each agency made its own separate contracts with national agencies or other subscribers within its own territory.” (Thussu, p.9) I am starting to curious if the ’reserved territories’ it’s essential as for the controlling of information? How is that going to corporate with integrated information?
  3. Another concept to be very insightful was Thussu started to mention the roles of several key mediums set as the platforms of propaganda. “VOA operated a global network of relay stations to propagate the ideal of ‘the American way of life’ to international listeners. The nodal points on this worldwide network linked to the control center in Washington, included Bangkok for South East Asia; Poto and Tinang in the Philippines for China….”(Thussu, p.19) It’s good to see the difference of the old forms compare to the international channels we hold right now, such as CNN international and CCTV international, to see how propaganda has changed over time.

– Anqi Hu

Thussau “Historical Context of IC” Response

1. I found it eye-opening how much thought and strategic effort has gone into international communication throughout the years. Does having strategic communication skills strengthen a nation or is a strong nation enabled to develop stronger communication skills than others ? Essentially I am asking what comes first.  For example, did Europe become a world power in part because of its ability to communicate and exchange effectively with neighboring countries or was it motivated to develop better communication technologies because of its power?

2. My second point is more of an observation than a question. I found it interesting how government and media are strongly linked. I appreciated how the article discussed the rise of Reuters and AP and demonstrated how they have become an integral part of how we are informed. Though their roles have subtly changed over the years those major news companies still remain ubiquitous.

3. A theme of the last portion of the article was the influence of propaganda. Thussau detailed how the promotion of values, national goals and political interests through media in the 20th century, specifically during the first and second World Wars,  could influence world decisions. While most of the examples used in the article are negative — and it is clear that the term “propaganda” has a negative connotation — I wonder how propaganda could be positive and honest. Is the promotion of political interests and national goals fundamentally aligned with dishonesty and tainted with negativity?

Assignment 1: Daya Thusu “The Historical Context of International Communication”


I had a couple of points and questions here about the ariticle “The Historical Context of International Communication”.

In the article at around page 7 it is mentioned that with the introduction of the private market during the 1800′s; the share of information expands quickly. Also, while the flow of information increased, the flow of more free free traded followed too and a deterioration of empire dominance also followed suite. Could we assume from these statements that maybe more private sector and smaller government intervention is best for better economic equality and basic freedoms?

I didn’t understand why on page 25 the author says, “In Latin America, an areas that has traditionally been regarded as the sphere of influence”. Why is this mentioned as such an important place of influence about other areas? Can someone explain this better?

During the case study on Reuters, I believe the author misstates capitalism when actually describing corporatism. In a true capitalistic market, the government does not add subsidies or interfere with the day to day business transactions and or give special interest in the form of subsidies or laws that are partial to certain groups. It was described in the article that subsidies where used often to help promote certain corporations above others.

Many Thanks,