The MacBride Report - 25 Years Later, Vol. 12 - 2005, No. 3
The MacBride Report initiated a wide international debate not only within the professional circles but also amongst the broader public. This debate provoked a major political and ideological confrontation in which the opponents of the Report’s orientation endeavoured to disqualify the entire Report and particularly so its recommendations. Consequently, the entire work of UNESCO in the field of information and communication was heavily criticised and obstructed. The Introduction presents an insight into the work of the Commission by one of its active members, and key recommendations proposed by the MacBride Commission for future activities in the field of information and communication.
From “Many Voices, One World” to “ Many Worlds, One Voice”: Reflections on Current International Communication Realities in the Age of Globalization
Since its publication in October 1980 by UNESCO’s International Commission for the Study of Communication Problems, the MacBride Report has spawned heated discussions on issues relating to cross-border media flows, professional norms and ethics, communications technologies, and the role of media in social transformation. In this article, the writer argues that political, economic and cultural transformations in the global arena over the past 15 years have given rise to new realities that seem antithetical to the MacBride legacy of “many voices and one world.” It has been noted that growing U.S. domination of world political and economic developments has had adverse effects on a range of communication issues like diversity, cultural identity, sovereignty and the right to communicate. However, the writer draws on current globalisation literature to argue that while the world seems to be converging on a globalised American-style model of political, cultural and economic evolution, forces of indigenous cultural expressions embedded in non-Western communities will always make a difference in the emerging communication landscape.
“Missing links” in Communication Studies: Systemic Learnings and Forgetting in an “information society”
This paper is orientated towards a contextual reading of the MacBride Report. This suggests that the Report can be fruitfully read as “socially situated” (shaped by its essentially political rather than scholarly role) and it also implies attention to the many changes in the framework, structures and flows of international communication since 1980. The paper notes selective aspects of the concerns and orientations which informed the MacBride Report, particularly those addressing structural features of unequal resources and power in a post-colonial world which, in turn operate to shape communication inequalities. It finds such issues have been somewhat neglected or inadequately addressed, both in the communication studies field and in international policy discourses in more recent times. The paper describes certain recent developments in neighbouring fields which closely resonate with aspects of the earlier report – in particular, the growth or revival of interest in the concept of “imperialism.” Whilst imperialism has become something of a neglected (if not quite taboo) term in communication studies in recent times, it is now addressed more openly in other influential domains. This paper argues that re-engagement with this concept is now overdue and potentially fruitful for both the contemporary “academic” communications studies field and for the agenda of “policy” research issues.
The report of the MacBride Commission is credited to have brought information- and communication-related issues onto the global agenda and therefore occupies a prominent place in the history of international communication. After revisiting the New World Information and Communication Order (NWICO) debates closely associated with the MacBride Report, this article contends that, despite many advances in democratization of the media, some of the key criticisms in the report are as valid in 2005 as they were in 1980, when it was published. Focusing on the global South, the article argues that the globalisation, privatisation and marketisation of the media, exemplified by what it terms as “Murdochisation,” has undermined public discourse in a global media culture predicated on entertainment and infotainment.
UNESCO’s MacBride report attributes to communication a substantial role in matters of democratisation and peace and, thus, provides a firm foundation on which to build toward a better understanding of media as a resource for enriching democratic culture to resist war. Accordingly, this paper works at the intersection of media and messages to advance the argument that democratic peace-building communication is usefully thought of as a tactic, or set of re-humanizing tactics, of dissent exercised by citizens operating in media saturated settings to resist the dehumanizing caricatures propagated by war propaganda. The notion of web-watching as a creative use of alternative media to locate incipient peace-building metaphors is examined and briefly illustrated with reference to an emergent image of secular bomber as homeland defender.
The MacBride Report identified communication as a basic individual and collective right, and offered a range of recommendations to protect it. Among other things, the report highlighted the need to strengthen cultural identity, provide diversity of choice in media, reduce the commercialisation of communication, and remove obstacles to individuals’ participation. This paper, based on interviews with journalists, argues that in the case of British local journalism, a market logic works against the right to communicate. The increasing dominance of resource-poor, chain-owned weekly newspapers has encouraged the rise of an anti-political journalism. I look at the anti-political tendencies of UK local journalism by focusing on campaigns, editorials and letters to the editor – the opinionated journalism through which local newspapers may advance social change. I argue that journalism-on-the-cheap, as practiced in local papers, becomes a journalism of consensus; one which has the power to enhance community solidarity but cannot question the status quo.