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Quote of the Week

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

"The public is organized and made effective by means of representatives who as guardians of custom, as legislators, as executives, judges, etc., care for its special interests by methods intended to regulate the conjoint actions of individuals and groups. Then and in so far as, association adds to itself political organization, and something which may be government comes into being: the public is a political state."

 

John Dewey 
The Public and its Problems (1927)

Introducing our Technical Briefs

Sina Odugbemi's picture

As many readers will know, CommGAP has developed a couple of training courses. We now run these courses in partnership with the World Bank Institute. A few years ago, we began to commission technical briefs on various aspects of communication and governance for use in the training courses. They are quick, hopefully accessible introductions to various key topics in communication, especially political communication. Each brief was written by an expert in the field although we have not attached the names of the writers, these being our corporate products. We have decided to share these briefs more broadly. Please feel free use them as appropriate. We would appreciate comments on them as well.

Speech and “Harmony” in China: An Experiment

Tom Jacobson's picture

In his book “When China Rules the World: The End of the Western World and the Birth of a new Global Order,” Martin Jacques argues that China is not only ascendant economically. It is also on a path to marginalize the West and change global conceptions of what is modernity. Does this include modern communication?

In mid-December I visited Wuhan, China, in Hubei Province where Wuhan University’s School of Journalism and Mass Media held a conference on Intercultural Communication and Journalism Ethics, attended by perhaps one hundred scholars mostly from China or greater China. I made a presentation there on the relevance of Habermas’s treatment of modernity for the analysis of Chinese culture. And then traveled to Chengdu, Sichuan Province, to deliver a lecture on comparative forms of political legitimacy and the role of communication in relation to each, at the Department of Literature and Journalism in Sichuan University.

Quote of the Week

Anne-Katrin Arnold's picture

"The material for opinion research - all sorts of opinions held by all sorts of population groups - is not already constituted as public opinion simply by becoming the object of politically relevant considerations, decisions, and measures. The feedback of group opinions...cannot close the gap between public opinion as a fiction of constitutional law and the social-psychological decomposition of its concept. A concept of public opinion that is historically meaningful, that normatively meets the requirements of the constitution of a social-welfare state, and that is theoretically clear and empirically identifiable can be grounded only in the structural transformation of the public sphere itself and in the dimensions of its development."
 

-- Jürgen Habermas (1969, The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, p. 244)

Half Mast or Half Full?: The News Media in the New Decade

Antonio Lambino's picture

The Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics, and Public Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School recently hosted an event entitled "How to Make Money in News: New Business Models for the 21st Century".  This reminded me of a Washington Post editorial by Michael Gerson contrastingly titled “Journalism’s slow, sad death”.  I came across the editorial a while back and decided to hold on to my copy, intending to reflect on some of Gerson’s points.  Chancing upon the Shorenstein Center event provided me with just the opportunity.

As I reread Gerson’s piece, the following point jumped out at me: “… the whole (news and information) system is based on a kind of intellectual theft.  Internet aggregators (who link to the news they don’t produce) and bloggers would have little time to collect or comment upon without the costly enterprise of newsgathering and investigative reporting.  The old-media dinosaurs remain the basis for the entire media food chain.  But newspapers are expected to provide their content free on the Internet.”

How Do I know That This Is True?

Sina Odugbemi's picture

For those who are in despair over the future of journalism and other forms of information intermediation in the new digital age, it is worth reading what Eric Schmidt,  the Chairman and CEO of Google , said to Fareed Zakaria  of CNN  on November 29, 2009:
 

"ZAKARIA: When you look forward, do you think -- when you look forward, what are the great moral issues that you think we will face with all this information, all this access? What should we be thinking about in terms of the conflicts, the tradeoffs?

Paying Zero for Public Services

Fumiko Nagano's picture

Imagine that you are an old lady from a poor household in a town in the outskirts of Chennai city, India. All you have wanted desperately for the last year and a half is to get a title in your name for the land you own, called patta. You need this land title to serve as a collateral for a bank loan you have been hoping to borrow to finance your granddaughter’s college education. But there has been a problem: the Revenue Department official responsible for giving out the patta has been asking you to pay a little fee for this service. That’s right, a bribe. But you are poor (you are officially assessed to be below the poverty line) and you do not have the money he wants. And the most absurd part about the scenario you find yourself in is that this is a public service that should be rendered to you free of charge in the first place. What would you do? You might conclude, as you have done for the last 1-1/2 years, that there isn’t much you can do…but wait, you just heard about a local NGO by the name of 5th Pillar and it just happened to give you a powerful ally: a zero rupee note.
 

Quote of the Week

Sina Odugbemi's picture

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

-- Passage from The Man in the Arena, the title of a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910.

 

The Art of Inquiry: Political Communication for the Holidays

Antonio Lambino's picture

It’s that time of year when people in many parts of the world are celebrating the holiday season.   Social calendars are full and gatherings with family, friends, and loved ones are in full swing.  For those of us who find ourselves in this flurry of social activity, what might the study of political communication have to offer?

It is a truism that we are not to talk religion or politics at the dinner table or gatherings of close-knit family and friends.  Findings from the study of political communication back this up.  As Diana Mutz (2006) poignantly discloses in her award-winning book entitled Hearing the Other Side: Deliberative versus Participatory Democracy,

Peace on Earth

Caroline Jaine's picture

I have just finished writing my New Year cards.  I have a troublesome gall bladder to thank for providing me with the opportunity to sit (very) still and reflect on the past year, scribble the names of those close and lick low-cholesterol envelopes.  I made my own cards this year – using a photograph I snapped of Baghdad’s green zone at dusk back in August.

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