Handbook of the Media in Asia

Article excerpt

[black square] Handbook of the Media in Asia. Shelton A. Gunaratne, ed. New Delhi: Sage Publications, 2000. 722 pp. $111.25 hbk.

Handbook of the Media in Asia, edited by Shelton A. Gunaratne, a professor of mass communication and a specialist in international communication at Minnesota State University Moorhead, is a more-than-700-page volume intended to cover all major aspects of mass media in twenty-five Asian countries or economies. Contributed by thirty-six scholars on mass media in Asia, this handbook comprises three major parts: South Asia (Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan, Sri Lanka), Southeast Asia (Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam), and East Asia (China, Hong Kong SAR, Macau SAR, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Mongolia, and Taiwan).

In each chapter, a concise overall profile (including geography, people, government and politics, and economy) of the country or economy under review and a detailed media profile (covering the history of the press and broadcasting, policy and legal framework, financial aspects, structure and organization, major media-related issues, and important statistics) are provided. The media profile is further divided into the press, broadcasting, and the new electronic media (such as the Internet and the online media). The information provided in the Handbook is authoritative, thorough, and consistent. Intext citations are carefully provided throughout the volume while a list of references is available at the end of each chapter.

To kick off this magnificent volume, Gunaratne presents an insightful twenty-nine-page "Overview" on the media in Asia. After a quick and clear operationalization of the concept "Asia," he addresses several important issues related to the media in this continent. He first reviews the issue of press freedom, from an Occidental point of view. Based on the annual Freedom House survey of press freedom worldwide, he reports the ranking results of the degrees of press freedom in those Asian countries and economies covered in the Handbook. By comparing them with some Western countries labeled with high degrees of press freedom, he puts the Asian countries or economies in a global perspective. Although it might be uncertain how accurate the numerical scores that the Freedom House survey assigned to individual countries or economies were, these scores added, at least, some "tangibility" to press freedom, a highly abstract and hard-to-measure concept.

In the next section of his Overview, Gunaratne focuses on the Asian values. This section is especially informative and truly thought provoking. …